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SFA chief Ian Maxwell says August return is on the cards for Scottish football

© SNSSFA chief executive Ian Maxwell
SFA chief executive Ian Maxwell

SFA chief executive Ian Maxwell is adamant that Scottish football will be back in August.

And he claimed the ruling body will be able to help clubs with the cost of testing for coronavirus.

He said: “We have a meeting with the Scottish Government on Friday.

“We are looking at a three-stage plan, similar to the plan the Government announced.

“Our phased return will start with a return to training, move on to matches, and then have supporters allowed back into stadiums at some point.

“We have a four-to-six-week training schedule, which the medical group are working through.

“Those six weeks can be regardless of whenever the start date of a division is.

“The SPFL have said they would like to start the games in August and we can fit the plans we have for training around that timescale.

“I think it is likely we will see football in August.

“We’re seeing it in countries across Europe.

“I think it’s definitely achievable. But we have to make sure we’re giving the Government comfort we can do it in a manner that keeps players, staff and everyone in the game safe.”

Maxwell’s confidence that Scottish football will return in August will come as a boost to clubs and supporters.

Many, however, will see it as being surprisingly optimistic.

An alternative view is that games will not be possible before September at the earliest.

A number of clubs will have to recruit several new players and the cost of testing for coronavirus has been identified as a major obstacle.

Maxwell revealed that talks about finding a cheaper way of testing have been held and the SFA would be willing to help with the cost.

Reports had indicated that clubs could face a weekly bill of £4,500.

He said: “I don’t think it would be that. All things being equal, it could be less than half that now.

“I think we can help clubs.

“We had a meeting with colleagues from other sports and we been talking to a supplier of testing machines.

“There are different ways of testing. I understand that down south they take swabs that go to a lab and results come back the next day.

“There are also machines that can allow you to test players at the training pitch and have them back within an hour.

“I think it’s right the SFA have a role in making testing as affordable as possible.

“I’m in daily contact with UEFA and FIFA about the help they can give.

“FIFA have huge cash reserves and they have asked all of their member associations to give them an update on the likely financial impact of Covid.

“We’re expecting some news from them at the end of next month.”

Cash from FIFA could be a lifeline for many clubs.

There has been talk of some lower-league outfits being mothballed for a season.

The most-recent suggestion has been for the Championship to play an 18-game season, initially behind closed doors.

This is to be discussed at a meeting of the second-tier clubs tomorrow.

Ayr United chairman Lachlan Cameron believes some extra finance will have to be found to allow matches to take place behind closed doors.

He said: “Whatever it is to get playing again, let’s do it.

“But we can’t play behind closed doors unless we have some sort of financial package in place.

“The majority of the income in the Championship, and below, comes through the gates.

“If we don’t have that, we can’t possibly play without help from somewhere else.

“Whether that money comes from SPFL via UEFA or FIFA, or from the UK or Scottish Government, I don’t know.

“We can’t afford to pay the players the wages we normally do without income coming through the gates.

“If you try that, some clubs would revolt and not play, others would go into administration sooner than you might think.”