Kris Hunter believes the Highland League will feel the knock-on effect of coronavirus rule-breaking at the top level.
The Turriff United manager reckons breaches of Covid-19 restrictions by Aberdeen and Celtic players could delay the start of the Highland League campaign.
Although the Premiership clubs have been playing behind closed doors and honouring a lucrative new broadcast contract with Sky, games without supporters don’t appear to be an option further down the pyramid.
There is still a threat of suspension hanging over the top flight following the events of recent weeks and Haughs boss Hunter said: “I just think it’s going to be difficult for us now with what’s happened at Celtic and Aberdeen.
“It will have a knock-on effect on us all. If things have to stop at the top level then all the levels below have no chance.
“We’ve just got to hope that in the next couple of weeks that there are no more outbreaks and the rate of infection reduces.
“It’s different for the Premiership because they have TV money and other revenue.
“But for the divisions below that and particularly at our level we rely on sponsors, hospitality and fans coming through the gate.
“It’s going to be very difficult because as soon as we go back you need to start paying people again and you need to find that money.
“And if there isn’t a plan in place for clubs to be able to have crowds and hospitality then there won’t be any money coming in.
“If we are going to start we need to be clear that we can have people back in the crowds otherwise we’re going to find it very difficult.”
There are a wide range of issues to be considered before part-time football can begin.
These include players and coaches potentially having to travel to training and matches separately rather than together.
For Hunter, the biggest issue is ensuring clubs are not put at risk by trying to restart.
Aberdeen’s last three games have been postponed with two players testing positive for coronavirus and another six isolating, as have Celtic’s last two fixtures after Boli Bolingoli’s trip to Spain.
Hunter hopes things settle down in the Premiership to allow other divisions to start planning for when they can start.
He added: “There are so many things to think about and if we are going to start it needs to be right otherwise it will have a detrimental effect on clubs.
“Cashflow is key and if clubs haven’t got any cash coming in then it’s going to be very hard to survive, because even just now there will still be bills that clubs are having to pay.”