Uk news Barry Ferguson issues Betfred Cup 'cry for help' MetiNews.Com
MetiNews.Com - The Rangers legend is desperate to take part in the competition but knows cash-strapped clubs will struggle to afford coronavirus testing.
Breaking News ! Kelty Hearts boss Barry Ferguson has pleaded with the SPFL not to force cash strapped clubs all over the country into being priced out of playing in this season’s Betfred Cup. Record Sport revealed how emergency plans could be rushed through Hampden’s sixth floor this week, demanding lower league clubs stump up for twice weekly Covid-19 testing if they are facing top flight opposition in the group stages which begin in less than three weeks’ time. And league chief Neil Doncaster doubled down on those concerns last night when he issued a grim warning to all top flight clubs of more waves of Covid-19 chaos to come following outbreaks at Hamilton and St Mirren. Former Scotland and Rangers captain Ferguson - whose Lowland League outfit have been drawn against both St Johnstone and Dundee United - fears the move could have catastrophic financial consequences for on dozens of hard up clubs, pushing some of them to the brink as they struggle to cope with the coronavirus lockdown. He predicts that it may also plunge the entire Betfred Cup competition into chaos if some of them decide to withdraw from it completely rather than place themselves in further peril. Kelty manager Barry Ferguson (Image: SNS) And he has urged the game’s top brass to consider handing all eight top flight clubs involved in the First Round free passes straight into the knock-out stages to avoid the potential for carnage. Speaking exclusively to Record Sport Ferguson said: “This is not just a cry for help from Kelty. Other clubs need help too. “In normal circumstances, the idea of handing eight Premiership clubs a bye, would be ridiculous. “But these are not normal circumstances and we need to think outside of the box to make it as fair for all clubs as possible. “My players have earned the right to play in the Betfred. They want to test themselves at this level just as much as I do as a manager. “But there’s a very real chance we will have to withdraw from the competition as we can’t spend money that the club doesn’t have - and there are plenty of others in the same boat. All we’re asking is for common sense to prevail before it’s too late. “It’s a huge concern. I would like to think no-one will go under but they are going to be stretched to the limit. There has to be a more sensible way. “We will have to wait for the decision on Friday before we decide if Kelty can play any part in the competition. But we won’t be the only club having to make that decision and it’s not too late for the people in charge to have a re-think. “As things stand they are asking clubs like ours and many others to spend money that we simply don’t have.” Ferguson’s part timers are due to make history when they face a visit from St Johnstone on October 6 - before making a trip to Tannadice the following midweek. But his club is now preparing to hold crisis talks if the new measures are rubber-stamped by the SPFL board on Friday. Crisis hit Accies were given a boost when football’s Joint Response Group confirmed that the rest of Brian Rice’s squad will be able to return to the club this morning, with only four members of his squad ordered to stay in self isolation. But they won’t be given the green light from government health experts to resume training ahead of this weekend’s top flight clash with Kilmarnock until a new batch of swabs have been carried out this morning.
. Doncaster said: “Given the current incidence of the virus in the community, we are likely to see more and more positive tests for Covid- 19 amongst Premiership teams. “This situation once again emphasises the importance of our current testing regime in reducing the likelihood of the virus spreading unchecked through Premiership first team squads, and in increasing the chances of us being able to complete season 2020/21.” But while Doncaster fears a mass breakout could bring the entire Scottish season to a halt, Ferguson has urged the chief executive to .consider a radical 11th hour overhaul of the Betfred set-up. Ferguson went on: “Public health has to be the first priority. This virus has killed people and football has a responsibility to do all that it can to stick to the government’s guidelines and keep the country safe. “The issue here is that everyone at Kelty has been doing exactly that. We have bent over backwards to do everything that’s been asked of us and we have no issues with that. I know clubs all over Scotland from the Championship down have been working hard to do the same. “The problem is we could now be penalised because we have two Premiership clubs in our group who have to adhere to stricter protocols in terms of testing. “If I was in Dundee United’s or St Johnstone shoes, I wouldn’t want my players to be forced out of their bubbles. I totally get where they are coming from. “But there has to be a way to get this competition up and running without forcing teams to consider withdrawing before they’ve kicked a ball.
“I realise how important it is for the SPFL to play the competition because of sponsorship and TV money. That income is vital for every club in the country. “So let’s bang our heads together and come up with a better way before the competition becomes a farce with clubs having to forfeit games or pull out all together. “If the eight Premiership clubs were given a bye into the second round I don’t think anyone would complain. “Unless there is a re-think my club is going to be faced with a horrible decision of whether or not we can afford to take part. “We have been told we’ll need to use our prize money to pay for the tests but that money has already been swallowed up by our budget for the season.”
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Kelty and Highland League champions Brora Rangers are both now facing the same dilemma - having already been denied the chance for promotion into the big leagues by the health pandemic. Ferguson added: “Both of us also missed out on the financial donations from James Anderson which have helped the other clubs through the crisis. “So now we are being asked to take a hit financially three times in a matter of months by circumstances completely outwith out control. “I don’t think anyone could put their hand on their heart and say that that’s even close to being fair.”
Source = MetiNews.Com