THE secretary of Crossgates Primrose has admitted playing football without crowds has been "hard going" for the non-league club.

Kevan McArthur, who believes the right decision was made to bring the campaign to a halt in January, said that beginning the season with no money coming in through the gates will have had a significant impact on clubs throughout the senior pyramid.

In January, the Scottish Football Association, via the Joint Response Group (JRG) – which also consists of the SPFL – imposed a temporary suspension on all football – including the Scottish Cup – beneath the SPFL Championship.

Initially set to last for three weeks, the stoppage was implemented on January 11 and was subsequently extended again until February 14, and then to March 1, when the governing body had said they would provide a further update.

A roadmap to ease COVID-19 restrictions was announced last week by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and, following that, the SFA on Monday said that "a series of discussions have taken place via video conference with all leagues affected by the suspension, to establish the measures and protocols under which each might resume their competitions", information that "has been shared with the Scottish Government and, while it has been positively received, we await a final decision from ministers".

That means clubs are no clearer as to a way forward and, speaking to Press Sport after the suspension kicked in, McArthur – whose Primrose team have played just 11 games in the 18-team East of Scotland League, Premier Division – said: "I think the right decision was made, without a doubt.

"I think when they made the decision, it was at the right time, and it's just an open case whether we get started back. If it's deemed that it's null and void or it's points-per-game, we'll just have to go with it.

"Certainly, from our side, there's no issues at all – people's health matters more."

When asked about the financial implications of playing without crowds, he replied: "That's huge. It was mooted that it was about £13,000 (of grants) for clubs at our level and I think that was the Scottish Government and the lottery that was going to be doing that.

"Every club, even further up the tree, rely heavily, if not totally, on crowds coming in, the revenue through the gates, the revenue through your sponsorship, through your hospitality, your merchandise. So, yeah, it is pretty hard going.

"We've got a small committee and the protocols and everything we have to go through is hard, hard work. We had to do a lot of work on our changing facilities to make sure they were passed by the SFA to give people access, taking temperatures, two-metre distancing – and that's before you kick a ball.

"It takes the edge away a wee bit from enjoying the football. We don't have a huge committee so I can understand bigger clubs would manage it quite easily but it was quite stressful trying to get everything ready."

First-team manager Alan Campbell said that he expects clubs in the league to have the chance to state their view on what happens to the season if football remains suspended.

Last year, the leagues were settled on a points-per-game basis, and he added: "The good thing about our league is they've always respected the clubs and given them a vote.

"All league matters, whether it's new teams coming into the set-up or different rule changes, they've always given the teams a vote on it.

"If they do that again, and there's a bit of transparency there, the clubs will decide, ultimately, what happens."

Meanwhile, the club has announced that club captain Scott Lawrie has extended his contract at Humbug Park for another year.