Rod Houston optimistic campaign can be completed after pause
Highland League secretary Rod Houston wasn’t surprised by the decision to suspend football outwith the Premiership and Championship – but is confident the 2020-21 campaign can be completed.
With the increase in Covid-19 infections in Scotland the decision was taken by the SFA and the Scottish Government to pause football below the country’s top two tiers.
It means the Highland League will be in cold storage until the beginning of next month at the earliest.
Houston said: “This news really doesn’t come as a surprise, there were increasing signs over the weekend that the game was heading to this conclusion.
“I feel it is better that the decision is made at national levels rather than local levels because it takes all the potential elements of self-interest or differences of opinion within an association out of the equation.
“It allows us all to move forward as a unit now.
“I feel for the army of volunteers that have put a huge amount of work into getting grounds ready and getting football going again.
“The fact we have to pause is one of these things where existential circumstances have snookered us, so be it.”
The shortened Highland League season only kicked off on November 28.
But Houston is confident the campaign – where sides will only play 15 league games – can be completed.
He says the procedures clubs have already put in place to deal with coronavirus will help in that regard.
Houston added: “Those arrangements that have been made are robust and will help no end in getting the thing going again when the time comes and will enable us to complete the season.
“Although there have been quite a few postponements recently, the fixture backlog is not as grim as it has been in recent years and is nothing that can’t be dealt with within the timescale and that’s what we’ll seek to do.
“We do have time and it goes back to the decision the league made last summer to decide the championship would consist with one round of fixtures.
“We have Strathspey Thistle who have been really unlucky and haven’t played a league game yet, they’ve got 15 to play and we’ve got a chunk of the spring in which to get them played.
“There have been years when we’ve had more games to play at this time when the weather has been poor.
“It’s not an unprecedented scale of catch-up, it’s definitely manageable and doable.”
The decision to suspend football below the Premiership and Championship was taken before the Highland League’s league management committee meeting last night about whether to continue playing or take a pause.
Although the big decision had already been made the virtual meeting still went ahead with plenty for the division’s clubs to discuss.
Houston said: “There was still other business to be discussed and it gives us a first opportunity to gather and assess the ramifications so we were not going to waste the opportunity to do that.”