Coronavirus: Scottish football fund a 'drop in the ocean', says MP Ian Murray

By Heather DewarBBC Scotland
Scottish football is facing an indefinite closure during the coronavirus outbreak
Scottish football is facing an indefinite closure during the coronavirus outbreak

The £1.5m shared by the Scottish football authorities among clubs is just a "drop in the ocean" for what is needed, says MP Ian Murray.

The money, originally due at the end of the year, has been distributed to help stem the financial effects of the coronavirus outbreak.

However, Labour's Murray says more will be needed during a lengthy crisis.

"There isn't enough resourcing in Scottish football to sustain it through this crisis," he told BBC Scotland.

"When you shine a light on Scottish football it's quite clear it has no sustainable resourcing, it isn't bringing in sustainable resourcing, and that needs to be looked at.

"£1.5 million is a drop in the ocean in terms of what you would require to keep clubs going through a lengthy crisis."

Senior Scottish football figures are to scrutinise the government's Coronavirus White Paper before deciding on next steps in dealing with the pandemic.

However, Murray believes clubs will eventually find themselves in a situation where government intervention is necessary to avoid going out of business.

"I would expect that over the next few months, as an end date begins to become clearer, that the government will need to come in and support the clubs either individually or as a whole," he said.

"You can't envisage a situation where half of Scotland's clubs, just to grab a figure out of the air, decide to close up and can no longer operate.

"The preserving of jobs and household incomes is hugely important, and alongside preserving them, the government really have to try and find a way of supporting clubs to ensure they continue to exist."

'Hearts taking right steps'

In an attempt to deal with the financial impact of football's shutdown, Hearts have asked players and staff to take a 50% wage cut.

Murray, former chair of the Foundation of Hearts, says the club are right to take this action - and many clubs may need to follow suit.

"It's really important that people realise this is about trying to make sure the club survives," he said.

"There will be businesses all over the country that will be looking at these kind of measures. I think it's the right thing to do.

"People being asked to take these reductions will find this difficult - they have families and rent and mortgages, but the overall thing is to try and preserve as many jobs as possible, and that when we come out of the end of the crisis businesses, sectors, and our football clubs survive."

Ann Budge
Murray has warned against Hearts and chairman Ann Budge moving to fan ownership during a period of "uncertainty"

Hearts are set to transition to a majority fan ownership, with chairman Ann Budge handing over her 75.1% stake.

Murray has cautioned that fan-owned clubs are ill-equipped to deal with the current situation though.

"One of the big problems we have with fan ownership is that when you do have a significant crisis that hits the industry, how do you respond if you don't have someone to dip their hands in their pockets?

"I don't think anybody would think it would be wise to go through a major transition to fan ownership at this time of significant uncertainty.

"Ann Budge was always going to stay on during this process. A bit of continuity is required to get us through this uncertain period."