The lower leagues could receive some clarity today regarding the potential for the season to be restarted.
Football below the Championship has been in cold storage since the SFA suspended it on January 11.
Possible returns to action since then have been blocked by the Scottish Government and, despite hopes that an update may be given yesterday on the prospect of football returning at lower levels by the government and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, it wasn’t mentioned.
However, it is understood the SFA and SPFL’s Joint Response Group (JRG) have been continuing to hold talks with the Scottish Government and that the JRG is set to meet with League One and Two clubs today, which could shed some light on when, or if, the 2020-21 campaign can resume.
It is also believed that meetings with those further down the pyramid are also scheduled for the coming days.
The JRG released a statement yesterday, which read: “The Joint Response Group notes the First Minister’s road map out of lockdown outlined at Holyrood today.
“We await further clarification from ministers in the coming days on the implications for Scottish football at all levels, including leagues and clubs currently under the Scottish FA suspension and the wider grassroots game.
“We will provide a more detailed update when ministers outline the road map for affected areas of Scottish football.
“The JRG is committed to working with government to ensure the national game is primed to return within the ‘progressive easing’ timeline announced today.”
When the suspension of football below the second tier was extended until the end of the month on February 9, the SFA said the next update on the situation would be on March 1, but it appears a fresh update could be issued before next Monday.
Following the shutdown of lower league football last month, all 20 League One and Two clubs came together to form a working group in a bid to help find a way to restart.
The third and fourth tier sides produced a return to playing document, which was submitted to the SFA last month, with discussions taking place with SFA chief executive Ian Maxwell about the clubs’ proposals.
They had hoped for a return to training on February 15 with matches resuming on March 2, which they felt would have provided the scope to complete their 27-game campaigns.
The clubs pledged to conduct weekly Covid-19 testing on personnel involved until at least the end of March, as well as implementing individual travel to training and games for players and coaches – with the exception of those who can’t travel alone – and cutting down on the number of people allowed to attend games.
Although the League One and Two clubs’ timeline for restarting has passed, they have remained cautiously optimistic about the possibility of completing the season – potentially with a reduced number of fixtures – if they can restart training and potentially games in mid-March.
If they can’t resume come the middle of next month, it appears increasingly unlikely the campaign will be played to a finish.
For the Highland League, the potential restart picture is even less clear.
It is understood the division’s administration is set to be involved in a series of meetings to take stock of the current situation in the coming days.
Although the league season has been reduced to 15 games, no club has played more than three fixtures thus far.
To restart the Highland League may potentially require greater concessions to be granted by the JRG and Scottish Government than Leagues One and Two with coronavirus testing, something that has previously been ruled out by clubs because of the costs involved.
The same applies further down the pyramid in the Junior ranks.