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Concern over finances

Maxwell calls for test crowds as SFA faces £6m hit

Ian Maxwell: facing a revenue loss without fans (pic: SNS Group)

Scottish football is looking at a £6 million shortfall in income if fans are not allowed into the national stadium.

SFA chief executive Ian Maxwell wants the government to allow some spectators to attend the four Scottish Cup semi-finals and four internationals.

It is poised to lose out on up to £3 million by playing the cup matches behind closed doors and a similar amount if fans are shut out of the national team’s games, including the Nations League opener against Israel in September.

Maxwell wants the Israel match to be a test event for reintroducing mass gatherings. There is a Euro 2020 play-off the following month, also against the Israelis.

Steve Clarke’s side face Slovakia and the Czech Republic in October before the Scottish Cup ties involving Celtic against Aberdeen and Hearts against Hibs on 31 October and 1 November, with the final on 20 December.

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Maxwell said: “If we don’t get spectators into the upcoming internationals or the Scottish Cup matches, it will be a revenue loss of around £3 million (each).

“That’s the worse case scenario, with no spectators at all at any of those games.

“The conversations we are having with the government, talking about a gradual return of spectators, would reduce that. However, those are the kind of numbers we are looking at.

“I don’t think we can be confident what the capacity for matches at Hampden will be, because there are so many unknowns. No one can give us any clarity.

We’ve got a fantastic national stadium and we want to use that for all our big showpiece matches

– Ian Maxwell, SFA

“You could set out a plan which saw you get close to full capacity but if there is a second spike, you don’t know.

“We really just need to work as hard as we can with the government to make sure we can accommodate as many spectators as it is safe to do so.”

The SFA has rejected an offer from the Scottish Rugby Union to use Murrayfield to host the Edinburgh derby clash in the last four.

Maxwell added: “We’ve got a fantastic national stadium and we want to use that for all our big showpiece matches. That Hearts-Hibs semi final will definitely be one of them, so we wanted to keep it at Hampden.

“It has always been our intention to play the tournament to a finish and while the impact of COVID-19 has dramatically altered the schedule, we are confident the final will be a unique and memorable showpiece during the Christmas holidays.”

Maxwell said that despite the inevitable reduction in income this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the SFA will endeavour to maintain the percentage of their revenue which is distributed to clubs going into 2021.

“In 2019, the turnover was £37.9m, and we managed to distribute £11.25m to the clubs, so just under a third of our income went back out to members which we’re delighted to do,” he said.

“Everybody is aware of the financial challenges of every business in terms of 2020 and what those numbers look like, only time will tell.



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