Lack of fans 'could be catastrophic' for Scottish clubs without government aid, warns JRG

Scottish Premiership games have been played in empty stadiums since early August
Scottish Premiership games have been played in empty stadiums since early August

The SPFL and SFA Joint Response Group has welcomed a Scottish government request for "urgent discussions" with Downing Street on aid for sport.

Sports minister Joe FitzPatrick has contacted his UK equivalent seeking talks "regarding a package of financial recovery, accessible to Scotland".

A rise in coronavirus cases means test events are on hold, with a phased return of supporters delayed.

And governing bodies are braced for no spectators throughout the winter.

A JRG statement said that the prolonged loss of gate receipts "could be catastrophic for many of our clubs".

It added: "The game in Scotland depends on ticket revenue far more than the vast majority of professional leagues across Europe."

Livingston manager Gary Holt says all clubs "need" help.

"We need people in the government or whoever it can be to come on board and help support the clubs," he said.

"It's great that we have football back but we now want fans inside the stadium but it's got to be in the right vein. It's got to be in the safest environment possible."

Scottish FA president Rod Petrie, who chairs the JRG, said: "We understand the challenges and decisions facing the Scottish government and society as a whole and Scottish football will continue to play its part in helping the country overcome the pandemic.

"It is also incumbent on us to safeguard the futures of our football clubs, whilst at the same time respecting and adhering to public health guidelines."

SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster added: "We are engaging with the Scottish government to underline the existential threat to many of our clubs, and to the huge community, economic and sporting benefits they deliver, if this grave situation continues without meaningful public financial support."

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