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Nairn chairman Donald Matheson says playing in Scottish Cup could be a struggle for Highland League sides

Nairn County chairman Donald Matheson.
Nairn County chairman Donald Matheson.

Nairn County chairman Donald Matheson insists he is in the dark about how a return to Scottish Cup action will take place.

His club are due to face Montrose in the second round on March 23, but Matheson has been given little indication of how it can be facilitated.

All seven Highland League clubs must undertake weekly rounds of PCR testing prior to games, placing onerous financial demands on them without any external help. It also comes while their own league is in cold storage.

Any financial incentive of participating in the Scottish Cup is out of the window due to those costs, according to Matheson, with clubs instead playing for the prestige of progressing.

Clubs are also not able to resume training if a full round of negative testing is not returned.

“Every minute we’re losing, that’s training that could be done,” said Matheson. “I don’t know if we’re going to run out of time.

“We can’t use training facilities as the government has shut them all. We’re between a rock and a hard place at the moment. It blind-sided us when it come out of the blue on Tuesday morning.

“We’re trying to figure out what to do and how we can do it. It’s still up in the air. We still don’t know what’s happening with the league starting.”

The seven Highland League clubs – Brora Rangers, Nairn, Keith, Huntly, Fraserburgh, Formartine and Buckie Thistle – had agreed at a league management committee meeting on Monday they would play bounce games against one another, prior to the Scottish Cup ties.

Nairn County and Brora Rangers, two of the Highland League sides left in the Scottish Cup.

But the escalating financial costs, particularly if any games are postponed and require a further round of testing before they can be played, will concern many.

“Before a ball is kicked you’re making a loss,” added Matheson. “The incentive to play the game is the Scottish Cup; you’ve got the chance to play a team higher up and potentially play a Highland League team in the next round.

“There’s potential for a Highland League team to get into the last-16, which would be fantastic. Teams might just have to bite the bullet.

“We don’t know yet if players want to take the risk and play. I was quite surprised when they said we couldn’t play the league, but can play the Scottish Cup.”

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