SPFL Board Meeting – Testing, Board Powers and Five substitutes

Jul 26, 2020

Update Following Today’s SPFL Board Meeting


Following a confirmed positive test from a member of coaching staff at St Mirren, Neil Doncaster, chief executive of the SPFL said: “Scottish football is acutely aware of how vital it is that everyone adheres strictly to the various restrictions and testing regimes which are designed to protect our game.

“There can be no complacency, but we are heartened by the rigorous way that clubs, players and officials have responded to Covid-19 since March.

”With such regular testing being carried out by SPFL clubs, it is inevitable that several players or coaching staff will have tested positive. This has happened, as it has also happened in leagues around the world. What is vital is that clubs manage those very few confirmed positive tests such that the virus does not spread. So far, the rigorous work that our clubs have carried out has ensured that this is the case.

“We continue to work with the health authorities and the Scottish Government and are looking forward with confidence to the resumption of matches next weekend.”

SPFL Board powers

On 16 March 2020, Scottish Government regulations were put in place prohibiting all football.  It was only on 29 June that contact training was allowed to resume. SPFL Clubs voted to curtail Season 2019/20 for the Championship, League 1 and League 2, with the SPFL Board being given the express power to curtail the Premiership.  This express power was exercised on 18 May, following agreement by all Premiership clubs that Season 2019/20 needed to be brought to an end.

Several SPFL Clubs requested that the SPFL Board bring forward a resolution, which would give the Board the express power to manage Covid-19 related disruption during Season 2020/21, without the need to seek Rule amendments approved by Clubs.  Accordingly, a written resolution was circulated to all Clubs, but this did not attract sufficient support to pass.  Following a discussion at this morning’s SPFL Board meeting, the Board have agreed to move forward in line with the clear will of the Clubs.  As a result, the existing Rules will remain in place for Season 2020/21, unless any member decides that it wishes to bring forward their own resolution in this area.

Neil Doncaster, chief executive of the SPFL said: “As a members’ organisation, it is vital that the Board listen to the voice of our member clubs.”

Use of five subs for 2020/21

The use of five substitutes in Betfred and Challenge Cup matches during the 2020/21 season has been formally approved. The decision follows a temporary amendment to Law 3 made by the International Football Association Board (IFAB).

The SPFL Board has also recommended that the use of up to five substitutes be adopted by the Scottish Premiership. Whether or not to accept this recommendation is now a decision for Premiership clubs and will go to a vote. Approval from 75% or more of Premiership clubs will be required.

Given that the Scottish Premiership is due to return on August 1, a resolution will be circulated to top flight clubs first. Clubs in the Scottish Championship, Scottish League One and Scottish League Two clubs will be offered the same option in due course.

Neil Doncaster, chief executive of the SPFL, said: “With a more compressed fixture calendar than we are used to, the Board approved the use of five substitutes in our cup competitions primarily out of a concern for player welfare. With teams expected to play more frequently and with shorter periods for recovery, the use of additional players in matches will help clubs spread the load throughout the season.

“It is also hoped that this amendment will assist player development, allowing more young players to get experience of competitive senior football during the 2020/21 season.

“The proposal will now go to Premiership clubs to vote on. A resolution to this effect will be circulated to the Scottish Premiership clubs shortly.”