Scottish football chief: August return ‘likely’

Last Updated: 23/05/20 5:47pm

The return of football is being planned for August, says Ian Maxwell
The return of football is being planned for August, says Ian Maxwell

Scottish Football Association chief executive Ian Maxwell believes a return to action in August is likely, but a government health official says “there is still quite a long way to go” before competitive sport can return.

Some previous predictions from within the Scottish football authorities had signalled September or October as a realistic return date, but Maxwell is optimistic ahead of a meeting with the Government on Friday.

“I think it is likely that we will see football in August,” Maxwell said on BBC Radio Scotland’s Sportsround.

“We are seeing it in countries across Europe. I think it is definitely achievable, the plans we are putting in place are comprehensive.

Maxwell has held the post of SFA chief executive for two years
Maxwell has held the post of SFA chief executive for two years

“We have to make sure we are giving Government comfort that we can do it in a manner that keeps the players, the staff, everybody involved in the game safe, and I’m sure we can do that.”

But in a separate interview conducted on Saturday, the Scottish Government’s national clinical director Jason Leitch warned that professional sport will have to go through a number of stages before a return to competitive action.

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Sky Sports News’ Charles Paterson delivers an update after the end of the Scottish Premiership season, which saw Celtic crowned champions and Hearts relegated
Sky Sports News’ Charles Paterson delivers an update after the end of the Scottish Premiership season, which saw Celtic crowned champions and Hearts relegated

A detailed route out of lockdown was published last week which stated that sports such as golf, angling and bowls would start to come back from May 28 with a return of professional sport to come in phase two.

With the restrictions currently reviewed every three weeks that timeline has given sports fans hopes but Leitch warned that no dates had been attached to the phases.

“In phase two, when we say professional sports could return, what we mean there is that each of the big sports in particular, the Olympic sports and rugby and football, we have been in conversation with them already,” he said on BBC Radio Scotland’s Off The Ball.

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Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon warned last month there will be no return of large scale gatherings ‘any time soon’ in Scotland and says there is doubt football matches could return behind closed doors
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon warned last month there will be no return of large scale gatherings ‘any time soon’ in Scotland and says there is doubt football matches could return behind closed doors

“They have five/six-step plans about what it will mean to come back, starting with individual training outside, then group training outside, and it ramps up.

“We would expect that process to begin to happen in phase two, so that’s still quite a long way from a competitive professional game, which would be at the end of those five steps for each of those sports.

“And that’s when you would begin to think about phase three, could you have for instance a closed-door event, or could you have a small crowd to a golf event, or could you have a socially-distanced crowd to a tennis event? We will have to answer those questions as and when we reach those moments.”

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Source : Sky Sports