Pars chairman in stark warning about 'catastrophic' impact of Covid-19 on football

Dunfermline chairman Ross McArthur has warned of "catastrophic" consequences for Scottish football if clubs do not receive any further financial support.

The Pars kick off their Championship season tomorrow at home to Inverness - but no fans will be allowed into the stadium.

There is currently no definite date for supporters to return to games.

In a statement on the club's official website, McArthur said: "I feel it is important to start by highlighting to our fans the extremely difficult landscape we are now operating in.

"The challenges we, as a football club, are facing during this period were always going to be unprecedented, but the continued ban on supporters being allowed into stadiums for the foreseeable months, is now causing grave concern across the whole of Scottish football.

"Walk-up fans account for at least 40% of our income in a normal season, and our other revenue streams are already reduced and/or uncertain.

"As a club, we are totally respectful of the difficult job our politicians and their scientific and health advisers have at present, balancing public health with economic viability, but is still incumbent on the board of DAFC, as custodians of our club, to put our case forward, in an honest and coherent manner.

"Without some form of central government support for Scottish football, which many other industry sectors have enjoyed, the consequences for our national game could be catastrophic.

"We sincerely hope that Scottish football’s place in our society will be understood and respected, and that its voice will be listened to, as we simply do not have anything like the resources that clubs have south of the border, in the top four divisions.

"The clubs in the National League in England are similar to the majority of clubs in Scotland, and they recently received targeted government support.

"We are not advocating that professional football in Scotland should be treated more generously than other business sectors - we are just looking for parity.

"Football players have, for good reason, fairly unique contracts of employment which mean that, for football clubs, reducing employees’ hours is simply not practical, therefore any central government support in the form of the new job support scheme is not relevant to a professional sports business.

"We have now incurred, or are fully committed to, all of our fixed costs for the coming season, but on the eve of the new league campaign, we have absolutely no idea, and no way of predicting, when our single biggest revenue stream might start. SPFL clubs are more vulnerable now, than at any time during lockdown.

"We are more than just professional sports businesses, we are each a focal point in our local community. Many in the local area identify very closely with their club: our matches are occasions when family and friends regularly see one another; a great many non-football, community activities are centred round clubs - such as our schools engagement programme, and our initiatives to support dementia, mental health and fight obesity, all of which are hugely important at this time.

"As chairman of my football club, I certainly don’t want to sit in an empty stadium for any prolonged period, as that is not football as I know it. The last three games have been hard for me.

"We are only fulfilling fixtures when that is the environment. Football is a spectator sport - how many potential supporters might be lost to our national game through this period?

"As a football club we have spent a great deal of time, effort and money to be in a position to return to training and to get East End Park ready, to play games behind closed doors, in an extremely safe and controlled manner.

"There are so many anomalies within the economy at present, brought about by the sector by sector advice, support, regulations and restrictions, but we are confident that we could adhere to all of the current government guidelines and still safely accommodate a significant percentage of supporters within our stadium, something which appears to be recognised elsewhere in Europe.

"We totally appreciate the return of spectators to stadiums, at this particular moment in time, is not realistic but some form of sector support for Scottish football, fully recognising how our unique industry operates (hugely reliant on income streams relating to supporters and hospitality) is absolutely critical.

"However, it is important to acknowledge once again the outstanding philanthropic act of James Anderson, whose kindness and generosity, has provided welcome support to every single SPFL club. It is truly humbling to see the further support that he and another benefactor have now provided via the SPFL Trust. Thank you, Mr Anderson."

Nicola Sturgeon says talks are ongoing with Westminster about a support package for club.

Kingdom FM asked for the first minister's views at today's briefing - you can view her response in the video above.

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