New SPFL statement gives an insight into next chapter of Scottish football response

By John McGinley

May 14, 2020

The Joint Response Group responsible for tackling Scottish football’s reaction to the ongoing public health crisis has released a statement today, via the official SPFL website.

The group, set up in partnership between the SPFL and Scottish FA, has tasked six sub-groups with discussing and exploring options regarding the phased return of football in the country.

As we reported last month, four Celtic staff members are part of these discussions across five of the sub-groups.

The SPFL statement lists discussion topics and next steps for all the groups, with the Joint Response Group chair Rod Petrie saying: “I would like to thank the sub groups for the dutiful way in which they have embraced the challenges and responsibilities placed before them in finding a viable plan to restart Scottish football.

“At this juncture I would also like to acknowledge the clear guidance and pragmatic approach from the Scottish Government which anchor our plans in reality, and are based on sound medical advice and expertise.

“Naturally, we all wish to see football return as quickly as possible but we must continue to adhere to the guidance of the Chief Medical Officer whilst using the power of football to convey messages that will keep people safe and at home.

“The work of the sub groups is summarised below and shows the breadth and depth of work being undertaken to ensure a smooth and safe return at the appropriate time.”

Some of the topics discussed included ‘virtual season tickets’ and the setting up of neutral regional hubs for lower league teams to use.

The Scottish Daily Mail reports “the concept of restarting lower league games before smaller socially-distanced crowds at multiple football clubs in the communities of Dundee, Fife, Inverness and Aberdeenshire is under consideration”.

This hybrid way of returning to action would first be employed in leagues that rely most on ticket income, to begin with, and not the Scottish Premiership.

Hampden stadium / (Photo by Andy Buchanan/AFP via Getty Images)

With new TV deals kicking in soon across multiple competitions there will be a desire from all parties to fulfil obligations.

That’s especially true in the wake of warnings from football finance experts that clubs could suffer insolvency events during the coming period.

Right now there are no further details on the virtual season ticket concept but that will be of real interest to Celtic fans who will be keen to see Neil Lennon’s side push for a tenth successive league title.

Hopefully we hear more about that in the coming days and weeks.