Lower league suspension extended by SFA as Scottish Cup kept on hold

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The SFA have announced the suspension of football below the Championship will continue until February 14 at the earliest.

Leagues One and Two, alongside the Women’s Premier League, had been placed into a three-week shutdown from January 11 after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tightened Covid-19 restrictions.

The latest update from the Scottish government – including schools remaining shut – keeps nationwide restrictions in place until the middle of February, with football’s governing body following suit.

Image Credit – The Times

While not a surprise, it comes as another blow to the League One and Two clubs who had presented their ‘Route to Playing Again’ manifesto to get games started again from March.

While the Highland and Lowland Leagues, North Caledonian League and Scottish Junior leagues in the East, South and West will also remain in limbo.

The SFA say they will offer an update on Wednesday, February 10 with the hope that a routemap to football return will be available.

The Scottish Cup will also be put on hold after third round fixtures due this weekend were scrapped and the fourth round weekend on February 20 freed up for league fixtures.

The SFA statement read: “Given that current lockdown measures implemented by the First Minister will now remain in place across Scotland until at least the middle of February, the existing temporary suspension of football will be extended until midnight on Sunday, 14 February. 

“This affects leagues with predominantly part-time clubs – although a number of full-time clubs have been affected.

“The Scottish FA will continue to work with those affected to develop league and division- specific plans for a return to training and playing, including adequate training and conditioning time.

“Those circumstances vary across our game and will be kept under constant review with any restart of the game likely to happen on a progressive basis. A further update will be communicated by Wednesday, 10 February.

“The Scottish Cup Fourth Round fixtures scheduled for 20 February will not now go ahead, and all ties will be rescheduled and information communicated in due course.

“Consequently, Saturday, 20 February can be released as a fixture date for league matches.

“The Scottish FA will continue to work with Scottish Professional Football League colleagues to accommodate the dislocated Scottish Cup fixtures when it is deemed safe and practical to do so.”

image credit – The Herald

SFA President, Rod Petrie, added: “The conversations we have had with representatives from the clubs and leagues affected by the temporary suspension have been hugely beneficial. We have been able to further communicate the rationale behind the decision in the midst of an ongoing pandemic whilst also hearing at first hand the most important issues facing clubs and leagues at each level of the game.

“We have also been greatly encouraged by the sense of togetherness shown by the clubs and the robustness with which protocols and measures have been implemented in the interests of player and staff safety within football.  

“A number of initiatives have been suggested which may help to make the eventual return to playing efficient without compromising safety.

“The decision to extend the suspension is necessary given the Scottish Government’s own extension of existing lockdown measures. Football will play its part to support the collective effort to reduce the spread of the new variants of the COVID-19 virus.

“We are grateful for the input of all groups involved in our online discussions this week and we will continue to liaise ahead of our next public update on February 10th.” 

Feature image credit: Twitter + The Herald

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