When he reflects on the past year Scotland’s longest serving manager Jim McInally believes it has been an embarrassing period for the national game.
It’s a year to the day since football in Scotland was first suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic.
What followed were arguments over ending the 2019-20, the decisive vote going missing during the ballot on ending last campaign, failed attempts at reconstruction which led to relegations and a courtroom battle, numerous attempts to try to bring fans back and the controversial suspension of football below the Championship.
Looking back on it all, Peterhead boss McInally said: “I think in a football sense it’s been pretty embarrassing.
“I don’t think anybody could ever have been prepared for what has happened in the last year.
“But on a scale of one to 10 in terms of dealing with it, with 10 being the worst, I’d say Scottish football would be 10 for how it’s dealt with it.
“It’s been embarrassing from the bodies – the SFA and SPFL – to the clubs.
“There’s been a real lack of unity and the phrase sporting integrity has been used so many times in the last year and I’ve still not seen any.
“Talk is cheap and at the end of the day the whole situation has been dominated by self-interest and people looking after their clubs, which I can understand to a certain extent.
“But I think it went too far, especially with the relegations that happened, they should never have happened in the circumstances.
“You couldn’t really make it up what’s gone on, it’s all been a bit bizarre.”
As a result of the infighting over the last 12 months, McInally admits his primary has been ensuring Peterhead survived.
He added: “From the outset last year I said the one thing that was important was that the club survives and it looks like we’re going to be OK.
“A long time ago now I just went down the route of trying to make sure we were OK.
“Even in the last few weeks with all the back to football stuff I said to the chairman that whatever happens we’ve just got to bat for our own team.
“For all the goodwill we gave out last where we didn’t think there should be relegation or anybody worse off, at the end of the day they were ready to relegate us (despite finishing eighth in League One, as part of a controversial reconstruction proposal).
“It’s just a case now of making sure that we’re OK and that’s how it’s got to be.”
Even a year on and with Leagues One and Two set to resume their seasons next weekend McInally is disappointed by things currently happening in Scottish football.
He feels player welfare has been overlooked with players unable to shower after training or games, despite now being tested for Covid-19.
McInally was also disappointed by the lack of explanation by the SFA for shutting the lower leagues down in January.
He said: “League One and Two clubs formed a group to get us back playing again, but really they should have been asking questions of why we were discriminated against by the SFA.
“Even now I think questions should still be asked of the SFA why we didn’t have the option to continue with testing like the Championship did.
“Since then the working group then served up a back to football proposal.
“This week watching the players train in a storm and having to travel back down the road soaking you feel for them.
“I had to laugh at one of the statements where it said they did consider player welfare – well I don’t think players’ welfare has ever been taken into consideration.
“The players don’t care because they just want to get back and play football and selfishly players and coaches to get out of the house and go training or a game will put up with anything.
“The players are desperate to play and you don’t want to take that away from them, but don’t kid me on about considering players’ welfare.”