Scotland’s Euro play-offs will not happen in June despite Uefa’s current plans for that to be the case.
The Tartan Army could have been gearing up for the biggest game in a generation tonight.
Had we not been in the grip of the coronavirus crisis, Scotland could have beaten Israel and been facing either Serbia or Norway in the Euro play-offs final. However, that would only have been if they managed to see off Israel.
Those games, like every sport, have fallen by the wayside during the current pandemic.
There is the hope that Scotland will contest the play-offs in June – but it seems to be only hope.
The world would have to be in a far different place from where it is now for Scotland’s Euro play-off to go ahead.
You might wish for the games to go ahead as scheduled, but realistically when you listen to all the experts on the current situation it seems highly unlikely.
There are no real statistics suggesting we will be able to play games even domestically by that time, let alone trying to get travel restrictions lifted to play internationals.
I believe in due course the Euro play-offs will be put back to a more realistic date.
Ultimately, they should be rescheduled for a time when players are at their full fitness and sharpness.
Players will all have programmes to keep themselves fit during the crisis.
However, there is much more to it than that as they will need a period of time, almost like a pre-season, to get properly conditioned.
There is plenty of time to fit the play-offs in.
I know administrators are always moaning about not being able to find dates in the calendar to rearrange matches.
However, now it’s the organisers who have to come to the fore and put all their effort into making sensible rearrangements.
It was the right decision to put back the Euro finals from this summer to June 11 to July 11 next year.
There is the breathing space of a year now that the Euros have been postponed until 2021.
This is Scotland’s best opportunity in two decades to reach a major final, so hopefully the authorities will allow proper time to prepare for the play-offs when eventually rescheduled.
The play-offs are a fantastic route to qualify for next summer’s Euros.
As a nation we have to embrace this opportunity that has been given to us when it eventually comes around.
Hopefully, Scotland grab that opportunity because unfortunately in the last two decades we have become masters of finding ways not to qualify for major tournament finals.
There have been a couple of generations now of Scottish footballers who have lost that opportunity to play in a major championship.
I have been at two World Cups and know just how important playing at that level is.
You can look back at the end of your career at those fantastic occasions where the best players in the world are on show.
That is something every player will ultimately aspire to and Scotland have it within their own grasp to get to the finals.
They have their destiny in their own hands.
We want the current Scotland squad to enjoy that and for the nation to have the Euro finals to look forward t o next summer – to have that opportunity to watch their team participate in a major finals for the first time since the World Cup in France in 1998.
Once you actually qualify for the finals to progress from the group stages into the knock-out phase has also become a bit easier these days.
It is all there for Scotland and let’s hope the national squad can take advantage of it.
The hope is also that the authorities are sensible about when these very important Euro qualification games are played by Scotland and the other nations.