FALKIRK, SCOTLAND - NOVEMBER 29: Bongani Zungu of Rangers and Callumn Morrison of Falkirk battle for the ball during the Betfred Cup match between Falkirk and Rangers FC at Falkirk Community Stadium on November 29, 2020 in Falkirk, Scotland. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Lower League return date confirmed

4 mins read

Scottish League One and League Two clubs will return to action on Saturday March 20, following a consultation with all 20 affected clubs.

This gives teams two weeks to get back to full fitness before competitive games start up again. The Scottish Cup will also restart, on March 23.

The news comes after First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, gave the green light for lower league clubs to return to training and playing, earlier this week.

Scottish League One and League Two, as well as the Scottish Women’s Premier League One, and the Scottish Cup, were therefore removed from suspension. However, clubs in leagues such as the Lowland and Highland league continue with the Covid-enforced break in play.

There were fears that League One and League Two clubs were content to null and void the season, but a joint statement from all 20 clubs has confirmed that this was not the case.

The statement says: “With the enforced suspension of our leagues finally over, our focus is now on returning to play. There has been a lot of damaging speculation and misinformation about our two leagues and our direction of travel.

“Today, as a united group of 20 clubs, we have advised the SPFL that we plan to resume our season on March 20, with an immediate return to training this week while complying with the testing regime.”

However, uncertainty remains about the length of the season, with clubs preferring the 22 game option, and the SPFL preferring 18.

“The SPFL’s preference is for us to complete an 18 game season and we understand why – it is the easiest option, with potentially less pressure on the fixture schedule and no need to make any changes to the length of the season.

“However, the consensus amongst the 20 clubs is that a 22 game league season is the preference, with a split in each league after 18 games, followed by four further games. It allows a competitive end to the season that our fans are keen to see and we want to participate in. We received money to test and to allow us to keep playing and that is what we want to do, not just run down the clock to the end of the season.

“We are now calling on the SPFL to do everything in their power to work with us to overcome the perceived obstacles of a 22 game season, which all have solutions, and hope they will respond accordingly. We must achieve a workable solution for clubs, players and fans by having a season of an appropriate length, even if that means the SPFL making some concessions to accommodate that in what has been another challenging season for clubs.”

A spokesperson for the SPFL said: “We warmly welcomed the announcement by Scottish Government that League 1 and 2 clubs are permitted to return to play and share the desire of all 20 clubs, their players and fans for a return to league fixtures as soon as possible.

“Since the suspension was announced in January, we have been working with League 1 and 2 clubs on the various fixturing options. Everyone is keen to see the smoothest possible end to league season in all four divisions of the SPFL and, as part of that process, the SPFL Board will now consider the request from League 1 and League 2 clubs to extend the dates of the league season and the play-offs.”

A decision is expected in the coming days over the length of the remainder of the season.

Featured Image: Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

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4th Year Journalism Studies and Politics Student at Stirling University. Sports Editor. Bylines in Brig Newspaper and The Oban Times

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