Scottish football: How has coronavirus changed transfers?

By Keir MurrayBBC Scotland
Jonny Hayes
Aberdeen signed Jonny Hayes at the end of June, the player "making a financial sacrifice" to return to Pittodrie

Not knowing when the window opens, WhatsApp videos, threadbare squads and being tighter than two coats of paint.

Scottish football has been given formal permission to begin the Premiership season on 1 August, but ambiguity and uncertainty surrounds the buying and selling of players.

From an international without a club, to a chief executive needing another 14 players, BBC Scotland speaks to those waiting for the transfer window to open in the coming days.

'Nobody sends you a video of a bad player'

Hearts manager Robbie Neilson

I'm not 100% sure what is happening with the window. I think it opened for a few days, then it will close again, then it will try to tie in with the English window. But I think it will cause us problems, because we'll close and the English window will stay open.

The whole balance has changed. There are loads of players available because of the finances and there are very few clubs who are willing to bring them in, so your bargaining position now is a lot stronger. I think it will be like this for this window, possibly the next one.

These days you get videos sent on WhatsApp. I've yet to see an agent sending us a bad player. You have to do your homework.

Livingston manager Gary Holt: Covid-19 crisis gives clubs bargaining power

'Club didn't know when the window opens'

Football agent Jon McLeish

Confusion reigns. In the Premiership, I had one club last week saying they can't sign anyone because they don't know when the window is going to open, and another saying they're ready to sign players right now.

There's an overlap with the windows, with the current season still going in most of the leagues. So that's tricky for a club to even know when to start a contract. They don't want to start spending money when they don't have to. It's a precarious situation, but I am seeing signs of improvement.

The Premiership is coming back in a couple of weeks, but the lads in the leagues below won't start back until October and the youth players don't even know when they're back. That's tough to cope with.

From the mental aspect, wage deferrals or wage cuts, not knowing if they are going to find a club or moving clubs, it's very unsettling. I guess my job is ramped up in these times, to keep speaking to players to check on them to see how things are.

'I'm tighter than two coats of paint'

Scotland & former Kilmarnock defender Stephen O'Donnell

I'd made the decision that I wasn't wanting to stay at Kilmarnock. I was wanting to try something new and see what a new chapter would bring. I didn't expect it to bring coronavirus, but having made the decision, you have to stand by it.

I'm just sitting tight and waiting for my agent to come back with something that interests me and him. The English market is beginning to pick up. The Scottish one, you see some movement, which is great for me that clubs are starting to sign out-of-contract players.

I'm pretty relaxed about it. I'm fortunate. I've looked after the money I've earned pretty well - I'm tighter than two coats of paint.

I've got in the back of my head the Scotland squad [for the Nations League matches in early September]. I'd like to have a club before then but sadly this virus might curtail that.

Stephen O'Donnell
Stephen O'Donnell chose to leave Kilmarnock where his form had earned him 11 Scotland caps

'We have a core of seven or eight players'

Morton chief executive David MacKinnon

The key thing is operating a break-even budget. Last season we had one of the lowest budgets in the Championship and we'd taken several hundred thousand off it.

If we are facing the worst-case scenario, whereby there are no fans coming through the turnstiles until 2021, the budget we had last year would need to be cut even further. If we don't get it right, it could put the future of the club in jeopardy and we won't allow that to happen.

We furloughed our players until the end of May and then extended that to the end of July. We took the decision that the situation was unfair on players and we didn't want to add to their stress.

I think the players are realistic about the situation. We have a core of seven or eight and would look to add 12-14 more, but because of the uncertainty we have to balance things very finely.

The SFA and the SPFL are looking into extending the transfer window for Championship, League One and League Two clubs. They are also looking at increasing the number of loan players from four to six, and to extending the period when you can sign players on loan.

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