Borders football clubs hoping for answers soon about fate of current seasons

Football clubs in the Borders remain in the dark for now about if or when their current seasons can resume following Scottish Government first minister Nicola Sturgeon’s announcement of plans this week to ease current coronavirus restrictions.

Wednesday, 24th February 2021, 6:51 pm
Hawick Royal Albert United's Albert Park remains closed for now, but the team are hoping to find out soon how long it will have to stay that way. Photo: Bill McBurnie

How lower league football will be affected wasn’t explained in the way forward outlined by Sturgeon during her statement to the Scottish Parliament yesterday, February 23, but teams such as Vale of Leithen, Gala Fairydean Rovers, Hawick Royal Albert United and Peebles Rovers are hoping for more clarity within the next few days.

The Scottish Football Association is due to issue an update by next Monday, March 1, on the suspension of games below Championship level in force since Monday, January 11, and clubs will be hoping to be given a better idea then of what the future holds.

The joint response group including representatives of the sport’s governing body is seeking details of the government’s plans first, however.

First minister Nicola Sturgeon at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh yesterday. (Photo by Fraser Bremner/pool/Getty Images)

It said: “The joint response group notes the first minister’s roadmap out of lockdown outlined at Holyrood.

“We await further clarification from ministers in the coming days on the implications for Scottish football at all levels, including leagues and clubs currently under the SFA suspension and the wider grass-roots game.

“We will provide a more detailed update when ministers outline the roadmap for affected areas of Scottish football.

“The group is committed to working with the government to ensure the national game is primed to return within the progressive easing timeline announced.”

Scottish Lowland Football League sides Gala and Vale haven’t kicked a ball competitively this year so far.

The Galashiels side’s last game was their Scottish Cup exit against Annan Athletic on Boxing Day and they last played in the league a week earlier away to Bo’ness United.

Their Innerleithen neighbours have been out of action even longer, last playing in the league on December 15 away to Motherwell’s Caledonian Braves.

Peebles last took to the pitch in the East of Scotland Football League’s first division conference B on November 28, winning 3-1 away at Glenrothes, and Hawick’s last game in the same division was on December 19, a 5-1 defeat away to Kinnoull.

Over in Berwickshire, Coldstream haven’t played in conference A since November 28 and Eyemouth United’s last game in conference B was on December 19.

The SFA’s last update, issued on February 9, was only to say that, following consultation with government officials, it was unable to give a return date for lower league games at that point.

It said at the time: “We will continue to speak with all parties in the meantime and will provide a further update by March 1. This date should not be seen as a proposed restart date. However, it should help provide some clarity to affected clubs to aid their planning over the short term.

“Whilst this is disappointing news, Scottish football will continue to play its part in assisting the Scottish Government’s efforts to reduce the prevalence of Covid-19 across the country.”