Monday 11th January, 2021 at 6:42pm
Partick Thistle wants to put on record its support for any measures the Scottish Government puts in place to stop the spread of Covid-19. In the current pandemic, the priority must be on saving lives and protecting the NHS.
But for us as a club, today’s news that all football below the Championship has been shut down is the culmination of a series of circumstances that we, as a board, foretold last April and have fought to avoid ever since.
Once demoted, we fought for a restructure of leagues to allow us, as an ambitious full-time club, to continue playing if football was stopped again. If that had happened, we would still be playing today.
At the season start, the SPFL made it clear that clubs who were unable to play at any point would be penalised. Yet here we are, prepared to play but unable to do so as we are in a league of predominantly part-time clubs. We saw this coming, we raised it – why didn’t the SPFL listen?
We warned last week that the football authorities’ distribution of monies, which penalised Thistle by £350k, could come back to bite us if games were stopped. Less than a week later, here we are without the financial cushion other full-time clubs have been given. We are already looking at furloughing staff and players which is an awful step for a professional club to have to take and could impact our ability to compete when football returns.
The SFA President referenced “notable exceptions” by way of acknowledging that today’s decision may suit part-time teams but not the full-time teams in the leagues being shut down. It’s surely not good enough to recognise that unfairness and simply turn away?
The final straw is the impact that this may have during the transfer window. This may be a three week break but that takes us to the end of the window. Players want to play and uncertainty is not the basis for a move. Where’s the sporting integrity if, once the game restarts, we haven’t been able to strengthen the team to help achieve our aim of promotion?
Partick Thistle’s experience should serve as a lesson to clubs who thought we should take a hit for football with the demotion and suck it up. But it’s now gone way beyond that, enough is enough.
All we want is to be given the same opportunity to play as other full-time clubs. But, once again, we are being pushed to the edge and left to wonder whether anyone in any position of authority in Scottish football will do something to help other than simply issue warm but empty words.