Peterhead General Manager Martin Johnston, who was one of the Working Group of 5 who liaised with the SPFL on behalf of the League 1 and 2 clubs was clearly delighted that a conclusion had been made.
“First and foremost, and for the sake of clarity this was a Working Group and not a Steering Committee as indicated in the SPFL statement earlier this week. The group served only as a conduit between the 20 member clubs and the SPFL and proposals put forward were based on the information ptovided by the clubs and not the Working Group themselves. We represented the needs of the clubs only and returned to them with any queries raised by the SPFL. All proposals were presented as a collective on behalf of the 20 clubs at all times.
It’s been a long and rocky road, and the outcome is the end result of countless hours of Zoom meetings at all hours of the day (and night) with my four colleagues since January, and in recent weeks the JRG and the SPFL. One good thing that has come out of this loud and clear is that the SPFL1 & 2 clubs have stood together from day one, I haven’t seen this level of solidarity in my time since joining Peterhead FC. The clubs were aggrieved (quite rightly) that they were not consulted prior to the suspension of lower league football, and many of us felt that we were the ‘fall guys’ for events elsewhere.
As the days and weeks went on and each hurdle was negotiated, it would have been easy to throw in the towel, but if anything it made us more resilient and determined to have our voice heard… as one united group of 20 clubs.
As the restart of the season loomed nearer and nearer I did at times think that we would find ourselves ‘timed out.’ Because clubs wanted a 22 game season, an extension quite frankly would have been an easy resolve, however, the SPFL made it loud and clear that the Championship clubs would not support this, which for me was very disappointing. Asking team 9 in the Championship to await League 1 to conclude by a further week would be no different than the time the Championship club has to await the Premiership to conclude. Some would argue that the Championship is guilty of double standards. Unfortunately, we were not afforded the luxury of an explanation on what basis the Championship clubs reached that consensus. The Working Group laboured that particular issue right up until yesterday when we were informed that a longer extension would not receive the backing of the SPFL Board.
However, the League 1 & 2 clubs have all resolved to get back to football and get the games played knowing full well of the impact that a heavy fixture schedule will have on the clubs, players and associated staff. We are just delighted to be coming back and I for one will be looking forward to debating events that occur on the field of play rather than off it!”