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Scottish football closed down amid coronavirus crisis; Inverness Caley Thistle and Highland League affected

By Alasdair Fraser

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Football shutdown.
Football shutdown.

SCOTTISH football is in indefinite shutdown amid the coronavirus crisis, leaving Inverness Caley Thistle, Ross County and the Highland League without matches this weekend.

All local grassroots football under SFA control is also cancelled.

The Scottish Football Association has announced that tomorrow’s matches and those next weekend were postponed.

The national body’s joint response group held an emergency meeting at Hampden park where the decision was made.

It embraces all domestic professional and youth football under the SFA’s jurisdiction “until further notice”, the authority said.

The first match hit is tonight’s Premiership match between Motherwell and Aberdeen, along with the Championship match between Queen of the South and Ayr United.

Caley Thistle were due to visit Arbroath in the Championship, while Ross County were set to host Hamilton Accies in the Premiership.

The Scottish FA and Scottish Professional Football League say they will continue to liaise with governments and UEFA in relation to domestic, European and International fixtures in coming days.

The SFA says it made the decision in the interests of the health and safety of players, match officials, staff, supporters and the general public.

Scottish FA chief executive Ian Maxwell said: “Since the guidance outlined by governments last night, we have been engaged in extensive dialogue to clarify the position and implications of that guidance for Scottish football.

“Today’s announcement is made in the interests of public health but, equally, the health and safety of players, match officials, and staff across the game.

“This is of paramount importance as the country enters the ‘delay’ phase of the coronavirus pandemic.

“It is also why the Scottish FA is compelled to ensure that the suspension is cascaded through the non-professional and grassroots games until further notice.”

SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster said: “As everyone knows, this is a fast-moving and unprecedented situation for the entire country.

“We have been in intensive and detailed discussions since last night and have also been taking on board the experience of our counterparts in England and across Europe.

“As a result, the board of the SPFL has agreed this morning that all league fixtures this weekend and next midweek will be postponed until further notice.

“The health and safety of fans, players and officials is absolutely paramount. We have not yet had any confirmed cases of Coronavirus amongst players in Scotland, but, given the nature of this outbreak, it seems only a matter of time.

“We realise that many people will be bitterly disappointed, and we would obviously prefer to be in a position where we can continue as normal, but that’s neither realistic nor possible.”

A Highland League spokesman said: "In accordance with this morning's Scottish FA directive, all football due to be played under the auspices of the Highland League is suspended until further notice.

"This takes immediate effect, starting with this weekend's matches."

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