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Nairn County chairman Donald Matheson confident reduced Highland League season can be played to finish

Nairn County chairman Donald Matheson at Station Park.
Nairn County chairman Donald Matheson at Station Park.

Nairn County chairman Donald Matheson feels the reduced Highland League schedule will give the campaign a fighting chance of being played to a finish.

Highland League matches were yesterday suspended for at least three weeks until the end of January due to Covid-19, with only the Premiership and Championship continuing in the meantime.

With the start of the Highland League season having been delayed until November, the clubs agreed to only play each other once in a shortened 15-game campaign.

Matheson feels that decision has proven to be a wise one following the latest announcement from Scottish football’s joint response group.

He said: “I’m glad we went for the 15 match season, which has now worked out to the benefit of everybody.

“If it has to get played in a hurry we could play Saturday to Wednesday, so in the space of eight games you could have three games.

“If we did that for five weeks, that would be all the games done.

“There is the Highland League Cup and the Scottish Cup, but it’s still manageable.

“It will give the league secretary another headache – I feel sorry for Rod in that respect.

“Needs must, and the health of players, management and everyone else is more important than the game at the moment.

We will move it on from that once we get the go-ahead to get back playing, and then it will be a quick run.”

Ronnie Sharp’s men had been due to host Montrose in the second round of the Scottish Cup tomorrow night, with the competition having also been suspended until next month.

County faced Covid-19 disruption earlier in the campaign when a person associated with the club tested positive, which forced the first team squad to self-isolate and caused the postponement of two league fixtures.

Matheson says Nairn’s playing squad and management were keen to proceed with the campaign but he insists he was prepared for the decision to pause the campaign.

He added: “It has always been a possibility. When we went into lockdown we got our professional sports exemption to continue, but we were under a different set of rules the last time.

“The boys have been very careful and looking after themselves, as some of them are out working.

“In a way it wasn’t unexpected. I spoke to the manager on Saturday who was quite happy to keep playing, and as far as he knew most of the boys were happy to continue.

“There was no onus on the players, if they didn’t want to play it would not have been an issue.

“The main thing the SFA were thinking about was the cross-country travelling.

“I’m disappointed we can’t get the game on this Wednesday. It would have been nice to have a team up from the higher leagues with the chance to play Fraserburgh in the next round, but we will have to wait for that.”

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