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Footy in furlough

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By Euan Maxwell
Footy in furlough

STAFF and players of Queen of the South and Annan Athletic have been furloughed until further notice.

The decision comes after the uncertainty about the future of the domestic league seasons due to the coronavirus outbreak. Queens chairman Billy Hewitson said: “We have been given no indication of when football will return – all we can do is follow Government guidelines. At the moment that is 13 weeks which takes us to the middle of June, but there is no guarantee what will happen after that. For now all our staff and players have been furloughed until further notice.”

Annan chairman Philip Jones also confirmed the Galabank side had furloughed their staff and players this month after paying full wages in March. Meanwhile, the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) are letting Annan Athletic and Queen of the South — along with the other 40 SPFL teams — decide on the future of the game in Scotland due to all the leagues being suspended due to the virus.

The SPFL have recommended that clubs approve the immediate termination of the current season for the Championship, League One and League Two, without the remaining fixtures in the league being played. All play-off competitions would be cancelled and the final season placings would be determined by the number of points per game earned by each club in the matches they have played. The SPFL board plans also contain a commitment to consult on league re-structuring in time for season 2020-21. To pass, the vote would require 75 per cent of clubs to vote in favour.

Clubs have until 5 pm on Friday to cast their vote. If approved, Queen of the South would maintain their Championship status for another season as they sit in the relegation play-off position, while Annan Athletic would spend a 13th consecutive season in League Two as they sit in seventh place and are ten points adrift of the play-off places with nine matches to play. A Dumfries and Galloway derby would await Annan next season as this decision would see Stranraer get relegated to League Two as they are bottom of League One and eight points adrift of Forfar Athletic.

Mr Hewitson said: “It’s a difficult situation and there will be winners and losers. Clubs are offering different options but I think the SPFL board have done as good a job as they can. I think we have reached the stage where the majority of clubs will want the season finished so they can get the balance of the money they are owed. The money can’t be paid until the leagues finished and clubs need to start planning for the future.”

Mr Jones has confirmed that Annan would be supporting the SPFL proposal. He added: “It’s the only real sensible way forward and we’d receive about £12,000 of prize money, which would be vital for us to survive. “The solution draws an end to the season and we can look forward with contracts. It gives us a bit of clarity.”


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