Scottish football postponed over coronavirus

The Scottish football season has been suspended until further notice over fears about coronavirus, the SPFL has confirmed.

SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster said it was “neither realistic nor possible” to continue with games.

The postponements begin with Friday’s Premiership match between Motherwell and Aberdeen, and Queen of the South against Ayr United in the Championship.

Sunday’s Old Firm derby at Ibrox will also not be played.

The second leg of Rangers’ Europa League last 16 clash with Bayer Leverkusen was earlier postponed by Uefa.

The SPFL has acted after the UK government escalated its response and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon had advised events of more than 500 people should be cancelled.

Scottish FA chief executive Ian Maxwell said: “Today’s announcement is made in the interests of public health but, equally, the health and safety of players, match officials, and staff across the game. This is of paramount importance as the country enters the ‘delay’ phase of the coronavirus pandemic.

“It is also why the Scottish FA is compelled to ensure that the suspension is cascaded through the non-professional and grassroots games until further notice.”

SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster had previously warned of “dire financial consequences” for clubs if matches were to take place without fans.

Scottish clubs rely heavily on ticket sales, with Uefa’s latest benchmark report revealing that 43% of the Scottish top flight’s revenue was made up of gate receipts in 2018.

And the league body warned clubs earlier this week that there were no cash reserves to help them in the event of matches taking place without spectators.

Clubs were encouraged to examine their insurance arrangements and that “Every single penny of income from sponsorships, broadcast deals and cup revenue is already paid to the clubs as fees.”

One Premiership club told BBC Scotland earlier this week they would be forced to rely on the goodwill of fans to not demand refunds should they not be permitted to attended games.

The spread of the virus has gradually escalated measures across Europe, with games postponed and played without spectators.

Uefa is meeting on Tuesday to discuss its response to the outbreak, and discussions will cover all domestic and European competitions, including Euro 2020.

BBC News

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