Highland League start likely to be delayed as chances of fans returning to grounds fall
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Highland League secretary Rod Houston admits the competition is unlikely to begin as planned next month.
Fixtures for the first three rounds of matches were released last weekend, with Scottish Cup games and ground availabilities preventing a schedule being drawn up for further down the line.
The league was supposed to kick off on Saturday, October 17, but announcements made this week already make that date unlikely.
Starting the new campaign was dependent on fans being allowed into grounds to provide much-needed income for clubs, but Nicola Sturgeon confirmed on Tuesday that was unlikely by the start of next month.
So Houston says that will have a knock on effect on when the Highland League can begin, with the new start date likely to be at least a couple of weeks later than intended.
“The fact that the First Minister said that the phased return of spectators from October 5 is unlikely has significant ramifications,” Houston explained.
“We had hoped to get under way on October 17, but that was predicated on being in phase four with spectators returning.
“If that’s unlikely, it’s difficult to see how it would change in 12 days. We’re waiting for clarification from the Scottish FA, I presume their joint-response group will provide us with some clarification quite soon.
“The bottom line is that the league decided some weeks ago that they didn’t want to return without spectators because they need a revenue stream to deal with the costs of matches and travel to away game.
“No Highland League club has got any revenue stream to speak of right now. Matchday revenue is absolutely critical.”