The Joint Response Group has held initial discussions regarding the implications for Scottish football following yesterday’s announcement that the return of supporters has been postponed and, consequently, that no further fan pilot events will be considered until the national outlook for COVID-19 improves significantly.
The Minister for Public Health, Sport and Wellbeing, Joe FitzPatrick MSP, has confirmed to us that he has written to the UK Minister for Sport and Civil Society seeking urgent discussions regarding a package of financial recovery for sport, accessible to Scotland.
The Minister also expressed the gratitude of the Scottish Government for the efforts that Scottish football has made in playing its part in the national effort to tackle the pandemic.
The JRG would like to put on record our thanks to all clubs who have played their part by adhering to the strictest measures to combat COVID-19, despite the enormous financial toll it has inflicted on them.
The game in Scotland depends on ticket revenue far more than the vast majority of professional leagues across Europe. We usually see over five million supporters per season attending Scottish league matches - with 43% of all revenue generated via gate receipts.
The prospect of that vital income being lost for the majority of the season – far less in its entirety – could be catastrophic for many of our clubs. We are committed to working with government to avert that crisis.
Rod Petrie, Scottish FA President and chair of the JRG, said: “We understand the challenges and decisions facing the Scottish Government and society as a whole and Scottish football will continue to play its part in helping the country overcome the pandemic.
“It is also incumbent on us to safeguard the futures of our football clubs, whilst at the same time respecting and adhering to public health guidelines. We welcome the correspondence from Scottish Government to the UK Minister for Sport and Civil Society and hope for a positive outcome for the national game and Scottish sport as whole.”
Neil Doncaster, CEO of the SPFL, commented: “We are engaging with the Scottish Government to underline the existential threat to many of our clubs, and to the huge community, economic and sporting benefits they deliver, if this grave situation continues without meaningful public financial support. We therefore welcome the intervention of the Scottish Government in seeking urgent discussions with the UK Government about a package of financial recovery for Scottish sport.”