Scottish Leagues 1 & 2 and SWPL 1 can train again but must test for games

Firhill pitch
Partick Thistle are among the clubs who have been waiting for a return date

There is an "absolute desire" among League 1 and 2 club to play as many games as possible this season, says Stenhousemuir chairman Iain McMenemy.

First minister Nicola Sturgeon has given the go-ahead for the bottom two tiers and SWPL 1 to return, with players to be tested before games.

All levels below the Championship were suspended in January amid rising Covid-19 cases.

"We hope to back playing games within a couple of weeks," said McMenemy.

"There is no prescribed timetable of training before we play competitive games. It's really down to football to make that decision ourselves."

League 1 and 2 clubs met on Tuesday to discuss a restart plan in the wake of the first minister's announcement.

With less than half of the 27-game campaign played so far, a 22-match compromise - with a split after 18 - is reportedly being considered.

McMenemy says "every option" is being reviewed and, amid claims some teams would prefer the season to be cancelled, he is "is absolutely confident every club will get back to playing".

Speaking to Good Morning Scotland, McMenemy, who sits on the lower leagues' pandemic working group, added: "I think there's close to zero chance of the season being scrapped.

"We've had money from government and [benefactor] James Anderson and that will be used to make sure we have full testing in place."

Revised dates for fixtures are yet to be confirmed. The suspension remains in place for SWPL 2 and leagues below League 2 in the SPFL, but revised Scottish Cup dates have been announced and the first minister confirmed Highland League teams would be allowed to fulfil their ties.

However, their league campaign - plus those of the SWPL 2, Lowland League, East, West and South of Scotland Leagues, Scottish Junior FA Leagues, and the North Caledonian League - remains on hold.

And, speaking at her Tuesday briefing, Ms Sturgeon added that she hoped the news "will be welcomed by football fans across the country".

Meanwhile, a proposal submitted by Scottish Women's Football to use cash from Fifa's Covid-19 relief fund to restart SWPL1 is being discussed.

Scottish FA president Rod Petrie commented: "There remain significant numbers unable to return to play. We will continue to work with the Scottish government to ensure they are able to as soon as it is safe to do so."

'An awful lot of issues to sort out' - analysis

Partick Thistle manager Ian McCall on Sportsound

I'd like to think the SPFL will have produced one, two three different types of fixture lists for a certain amount of games to see if we can do something and play this.

It's not ideal in any way. There's an awful lot of issues still to sort out. The story's got a wee bit to run yet, in my opinion.

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