SPFL Agree Reduced 2020/21 Season

SPFL reduced season

Next season will see a reduced season, with fewer games across the majority of Scotland’s Professional Football League (SPFL).

The Scottish Premier League (SPL) is unaffected and they will run a 39-game season as usual. However, the other three divisions will operate on a 27-game fixture list.

The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic is the reason for the fewer fixtures next season.

SPFL Agree Reduced 2020/21 Season

Fewer SPFL Fixtures in 2020/21

The three Scottish divisions will consist of 10 teams as usual. However, instead of playing each other four times during the season, teams will now only face each other over three games.

The SPL is set to begin their 2020/21 season on August 1st 2020. While the other three tiers will commence their new season on October 17th 2020.

This means that teams will have at least one less home match next season. Normally, this would mean a loss of revenue to the clubs. However, due to COVID-19 laws, fans are currently barred from attending sporting fixtures. Had their season commenced on August 1st, like the SPL, then this would have been costly to lower league clubs.

By October 17th, it is hoped that spectators will again be allowed inside professional sporting arenas. It is for this reason that the lower-tier clubs have majority voted for a reduced 2020/21 season.

Clubs Could Play Earlier

It is possible that clubs from the lower three divisions could be in action sooner than October 17th. Prior to the league season starting, they will be invited to participate in the Scottish League Cup.

Normally, the initial group stages of the Scottish League Cup take place in July. Next season, they will begin in October although the group format could differ. Lower leagues clubs have been given permission to opt-out from the competition.

SPFL secretary Iain Blair confirmed to BBC Scotland: “What we did not want to do was force clubs to play football when it wasn’t beneficial for them to do so.

“We just wanted to say to them ‘look, if you don’t take part, it doesn’t mean you’re going to get no money from it’.”

This likely means that cubs could receive at least a proportion of their appearance money, even if they do not participate in the cup.

Meanwhile, yesterday, the SPL announced their fixture list for the 2020/21 season. This was not without controversy, as currently, Dundee United expect to be in next season’s SPL. However, should Hearts win their case to overturn their relegation, then the Edinburgh club will take United’s place. This will lead to Dundee United remaining in the Scottish Championship, thereby facing a different set of fixtures.

If Dundee United’s promotion to the SPL is finally confirmed, then they will start the season at home to St. Johnstone.

No Plan B

Former Hearts Chairman Leslie Deans believes that the SPFL should have waited before announcing the 2020/21 fixtures.

Deans, who spoke to The Scotsman, said: “You could argue that the SPFL should not be publishing the fixtures on Monday.

“That is their choice to do so – so be it. One would have thought the sensible thing to do would be to publish two fixture lists – plan A and plan B.”

This would have been a far better approach, although the two lists could have caused confusion among fans of all 12 clubs. For now, it is innocent supporters of Hearts and Dundee United who left bewildered.

One set of fans will be left disappointed by a season in the Scottish Championship rather than the SPL. However, it could be several weeks, before we find out which ones.

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