Elgin City chairman Graham Tatters has warned football behind closed doors would have a catastrophic effect on the Black and Whites – and on their fellow League 2 clubs.
Scottish football’s joint response group, chaired by SFA president Rod Petrie, has begun two-weekly discussion cycles aimed at finding a way to resume football following the coronavirus shutdown.
Among the sub-group discussions which have been held is the prospect of football behind closed doors, with the potential for “virtual season tickets” to be issued to allow supporters to watch live broadcasts of matches.
Elgin’s playing squad and management are on furlough, but the club would no longer be able to take advantage of the UK Government’s job retention scheme should football return before the scheme is scheduled to finish at the end of October.
Given the lack of revenue Elgin are able to generate without crowds at Borough Briggs, Tatters is vehemently opposed to the notion of playing behind closed doors.
He said: “I can’t believe there are people talking about playing behind closed doors – they haven’t got a clue how a football club in the lower echelons of the league runs if they think we can play behind closed doors.
“Once we take people out of furlough, that would be catastrophic.
“It’s OK in England, if Sky Sports are going to take the games they don’t have to pay back the hundreds of millions of pounds everybody keeps talking about.
“I can understand it from their point of view.
“From our point of view, it’s not so much having no crowd coming in – I think that’s about 10% of our turnover.
“It’s the fact we’d have no hospitality, social club or functions in the room upstairs.
“There’s a lot of other things that keep the club going, although spectators coming in also spend money in the bar and the likes.
“With social distancing at the game, people wouldn’t be able to come into the bar before or after the game. That’s where the problem lies.”
Tatters is hopeful the possibility of league reconstruction is now off the table for the foreseeable future, even though no formal proposal has yet to be tabled by the taskforce chaired by Hearts owner Ann Budge and Hamilton Accies vice-chairman Les Gray.
Premiership clubs had outlined their opposition to a reshuffle to the current league set-up in a meeting earlier this month, and Tatters is keen to draw a line under the issue.
Tatters added: “I’m hoping reconstruction talks have stopped now and that will be the end of that.
“Right from the very start I have believed we shouldn’t be talking about reconstruction in the situation we are in.
“I have said all along we should be looking at trying to make sure we have got some football clubs at the end of this.
“I’m hoping that’s that, but I don’t think that’s the end of the whole thing.
“I have got sympathy for everybody, but sympathy doesn’t keep my football club going.
“As a chairman of a football club that is a limited company, my major responsibility is to take care of Elgin City Football Club on behalf of the shareholders.”