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Wednesday February 21, 2024

UEFA warning leaves Scottish clubs in limbo

By AFP
April 05, 2020

LONDON: UEFA’s ultimatum to national leagues that a failure to complete the football season could lead to exclusion from European competition has left the continent’s less wealthy leagues, like Scotland, in limbo.

Scottish clubs were due to meet by video-conference on Friday with the possibility of following the Belgian league’s recommendation to call their season to an end amid the uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

That meeting has now been pushed back to next week as Scottish clubs scramble just to survive in the months to come with matches indefinitely suspended on public health grounds. Meagre television rights deals, in particular in comparison to the English Premier League across the border, have seen Scotland slide down the food chain of European football.

The existing broadcast contract for the Scottish Premiership is reportedly worth a total of just 21 million pounds ($22.7 million) annually. Clubs can therefore little afford to miss out on European competition, with even those who do not participate eligible for solidarity payments from UEFA.

“Since participation in UEFA club competitions is determined by the sporting result achieved at the end of a full domestic competition, a premature termination would cast doubts about the fulfilment of such condition,” UE­FA said in a joint letter with the European Clubs Asso­ciation and European Leagues.

Many Scottish clubs had been keen for the season to be called as it stands — with Celtic crowned champions — so that prize money could be handed out to solve a cash-flow crisis. A proposal for league reconstruction wher­eby two teams are promoted and no side relegated from the top four leagues would also mitigate the damage and any potential legal challenges.

Instead, as so often, Scottish clubs have had to turn to their fanbases for support.