Peterhead manager Jim McInally believes the warnings about the future of Scottish football aren’t being taken seriously enough by the Scottish Government.
With all four divisions of the SPFL kicking off behind closed doors and no guarantees about the return of supporters to stadiums any time soon, there are serious concerns about how long clubs can survive for.
A hoped for financial support package has yet to materialise and Blue Toon boss McInally believes the country’s decision-makers need to show they are aware of the dangers facing football.
Following Covid-19 outbreaks at the likes of St Mirren, when asked at the weekend about the prospect of the season being cut short, National Clinical Director Jason Leitch said: “I think the season itself we should be able to get to the end if people continue to follow the rules within clubs.”
However, McInally says the financial problems facing clubs because of behind-closed-door football is a major threat to this season.
He said: “So is he (Leitch) saying follow the rules and go bankrupt? That’s basically it.
“Without a financial package or financial support of some kind we won’t get there.
“Unless players to decide to play for no money, but there’s a lot who wouldn’t be able to do that.
“If he thinks we can finish the season by following the Covid rules without getting any financial support from somewhere that tells you that the Scottish Government aren’t taking all the warnings that have come from guys like (Aberdeen chairman) Dave Cormack very seriously.
“It’s a naïve way to look at things, but it doesn’t surprise me.
“It doesn’t fill you with hope. There’s more good news coming about vaccines and I think that’s the only hope you’ve got that things will ease off a bit if people start receiving a vaccine.”
McInally believes there is a lack of understanding about how critical supporters coming through the turnstiles and matchday hospitality is to clubs at all levels of Scottish football.
Support has been made available to teams as a result of benefactor James Anderson’s multi-million pound donation, however, this money can only be used by clubs for work within the community.
McInally added: “How can any business run without income? I don’t get the lack of understanding about the situation we’re in.
“On Saturday after the game you’re standing chatting and you think ‘what are we doing?’
“There’s nobody in the club, there was no supporters away home disappointed because we’d been beat, it just doesn’t feel right.
“I respect the times that we’re in, but I don’t see how we can keep going on like this because it’s ridiculous.
“Our normal matchday hospitality was between 150 and 200 usually, if we could even get 60 or 70 in that would make a big difference.
“That’s looking at the business side of it, but it’s not just that it’s about fans getting out of the house on a Saturday.
“They make money available for community trust work (by clubs) and we can’t do anything in the community right now, it’s all very strange.”
Professor Leitch and the government have indicated that smaller crowds may be allowed to return in the lower leagues first, while there have been indications the government’s new tiered system could allow fans to return in some parts of the country.
However, no timescale has been set out as to when that might be possible and McInally. said: “I think they’ve got to say that because there’s no excuse for the smaller clubs not having crowds back.
“I saw an FA Cup game on Monday night Bishop’s Stortford playing St Albans and there was a crowd there and you think ‘why can’t we have that?’”