Highland League still playing a waiting game

Rod Houston says the Highland League has not had any indication when the 2020-21 season may be able to resume.

Football in Scotland below the Championship was suspended for the rest of the month by the SFA and Scottish Government on January 11.

Although lockdown restrictions across Scotland have been extended until the middle of February, there has been no update on the potential return of lower league football.

Highland League secretary Houston understands the reasons for that and says the division is playing a waiting game at present when it comes to planning for a possible resumption.

He said: “At the moment we are playing a waiting game and, once we’ve got a sense of when we might get back, we’ll look at how we structure the calendar and take it from there.

“At the minute we’re getting no indication whatsoever of when or when it might not be, we’re in limbo at the moment.

“But that’s understandable because the bottom line is we’re in the middle of the worst pandemic for at least century.

“All sorts of ways of life are being disrupted and lots of families have got concerns about people shielding and other risks.

“So at the minute, as much as football gives people an interest beyond that and is a point of conversation, at the minute there is absolutely nothing to suggest football will be back very quickly.

“No matter how frustrating it is, we simply have to sit and wait and I’ll admit I don’t find that very easy – but that’s what we have to do.”

Houston hopes when a restart to this season is possible that clubs have time to prepare properly for getting back in action.

With seven Highland League sides still involved in the Scottish Cup, Houston ideally hopes they will be able to play some league fixtures ahead of those important ties.

He added: “We’re hoping we get some kind of warning as to when it might be so that clubs get the chance to some kind of preparation and get some football played before have their Scottish Cup ties.

“It’s quite complex with the number of things to be considered, but until the numbers nationally change, or show enough of a sustained downward turn, then I don’t think a return to football is top of the agenda.”

Houston is readying himself to reconfigure the fixture programme, dependent on when lower league football gets the green light to resume.

With the 2020-21 league campaign consisting of 15 games, there is the scope to complete the season.

Houston said: “Until we know when we can start and things like play-off dates are arranged then we’ll work through a programme which gives clubs the best chance of getting through the league programme.

“The thing is we have got the spring and spring is coming. This is the worst time of the year in terms of weather.

“Frankly losing the Saturdays we’ve lost just now is not very different from what it would be in many other years and we just have to wait and see where we’re at.”

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