Unfortunately this update is with regards to a new shutdown for our football club
As most will be aware, all football below the Scottish Championship level has been suspended by the Scottish FA Joint Response Group (JRG). This includes the Stenhousemuir men’s first team and all other teams within the structures that flow underneath. The younger age groups in our community programme are still able to train, and the club will remain in contact with parents to make them aware of any changing arrangements.
News of the suspension is disappointing. There is no evidence to suggest that football clubs are responsible for spreading the virus between clubs or into other communities. The positive test rate amongst players has been no greater than the rest of society. If there was evidence to suggest that football clubs were a source of wider virus spread then of course action would need to be taken, but there isn’t.
Whilst this decision is disappointing, we will do all we can to keep the players ready for a resumption of football when we are allowed to do so once again. The suspension places further strain on our club, will limit the ability of our staff to carry out their duties, and it has significant potential to interrupt our ability to do business in the transfer window.
As many people will have heard, we found out about the suspension from the Scottish FA/SPFL when we were sent a copy of a press release addressed to the media. There had been no consultation with clubs, no warning and no support offered. We find this deeply disappointing.
As has also now been widely reported, there was a scheduled SPFL General Meeting of Members held on Wednesday 13th January where clubs expected to be able to discuss this critical development. To clarify the timeline, this meeting was just 48 hours after the decision to suspend clubs was announced in the media. I am bitterly disappointed to confirm the reports in the press that the SPFL refused to allow any discussion between clubs on this topic, and any other issues in that meeting. Club representatives had their microphones muted and the only communication accepted was where clubs could email questions to the secretary, who would in turn email them to the Chairman and he would read them out. At no point were clubs allowed to speak. I made a number of requests to speak, and they were all refused.
So faced with the news of this imposed suspension of football, our own league body refused clubs the opportunity to discuss this at our own Members General Meeting. For the record, we have been represented at every league meeting held, and this censured format has never been used before. I very much doubt that I need to say much more on this as many football club supporters will be outraged at hearing this, but sadly not surprised. Fans own our game, they are the biggest stakeholders in our clubs. Silencing the club voices who are in place to represent fans, in arguably the worst crisis Scottish football has faced, is an affront to supporters everywhere.
We will continue to raise concerns on this matter, just as we will do everything in our control to work towards getting our game back. Football fans deserve better than this from our league bodies – change is needed, reform must be put on the agenda at some point soon. We will campaign for change and we hope that other clubs and supporter groups will too.