The latest Joint Response Group update issued by the SFA is evidence that the Scottish authorities are working with the Premier League amid the global health pandemic.
The Scottish Sun reported earlier in the week that SPFL chief, Neil Doncaster, would be briefed on the outcome of an emergency meeting of all 20 Premier League clubs, before himself holding meetings with all Scottish league sides on Thursday afternoon.
It was little surprise then, that when the Joint Response Group update was released on Thursday evening [Scottishfa.co.uk], that Scotland fell in line with the English game, by confirming the suspension of all football until at least 30th April.
It’s apparent at this stage that the SFA are taking a lead from the Premier League in an effort to create some sort of pan-UK response to the current crisis.
There are differences to the tone of the statements, though.
While the English authorities spoke positively about finding ways to complete the 2019/20 campaign [Premierleague.com], their Scottish counterparts acknowledged the helpfulness of UEFA’s call to push back Euro 2020 but hinted that more football was unlikely this season.
The concept of Scotland taking on Israel in a European Championships playoff in June is described as ‘ambitious’, while the 30th April guideline looks a token gesture more than anything else.
In stating that ‘the medical advice is that we will not have reached the peak of the coronavirus epidemic in this country by then and the escalating measures which restrict the ability to play football matches will likely remain in force’, it’s hinted that the footballing standstill will continue well beyond the current parameters of the suspension.
In sum, then, there seems little optimism on the part of the Scottish authorities that Rangers or any other Scottish club will return to action before the season is out.
By falling in line with the Premier League’s response, the SFA want to keep the option of finishing the campaign open, but there’s a sense it’ll be a long time before it’s safe enough to have a packed Ibrox hosting a Scottish Premiership fixture again.