Financial crisis looming

Football facing ‘null and void’ call as virus grips sport

Emerson Hyndman missed a good chance for Hibs late in the game

Football finances are under strain

The Scottish Professional Football League is facing a call to declare the current campaign null and void as clubs become embroiled in a contracts crisis.

One Scottish club is demanding the season be resumed in the summer, or prize money and titles are awarded based on current positions.

“Perhaps prize money can be split on the basis of the current table. But the league should be ruled void and we start next season as we commenced this one,” a source told the Press Association.

UEFA, which last week suspended the Champions League and Europa League, has invited representatives of all 55 of its member associations to attend a meeting tomorrow via video conference to discuss the response to the coronavirus crisis. 

It appears inevitable the European Championship, scheduled to be staged in 12 countries in June and July, will be moved to 2021, creating a potential window for domestic leagues and cup competitions to be finished.

The English Premier League is planning to resume on 4 April, but sources are admitting that now looks unlikely with the virus not expected to peak for at least 10 weeks.

Sky Sports have won the rights to the Scottish Premiership in a new five-year deal

Sky and BT have already paid for TV rights

A lengthy suspension will create issues for sponsors and the playing squads with many players out of contract in the summer. Legally, players’ contracts end on 30 June.

Sky and BT have already paid their TV money to English Premier League clubs, but they could both say they want their money back proportionally if the season is not completed.

One football expert said: “If games get pushed back to July what do clubs do? Do they need to offer temporary contract extensions so they can fulfil the games? Or do they have to fill the squad with youth players because legally they can’t use the out-of-contract players?

“It also disrupts the whole financial and business model of a club. A club will know year on year that the bulk of their money comes in from season ticket sales around now. But a lot of fans will hold off because they don’t know what is happening this season. That creates uncertainty.”

However, there are also reports of some fans buying tickets for next season as a gesture of support for their clubs.

Celtic currently lead the Premiership table by 13 points and manager Neil Lennon has already suggested his team should be declared champions if the season ends now.

Hearts, who were four points adrift at the bottom of the Premiership with eight games remaining when football was suspended on 13 March, have indicated they may take legal action if they are relegated.

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