THE chairman of Alloa Athletic believes fans can socially distance in football grounds - as he warned some teams could be under threat. 

Mike Mulraney has admitted he is deeply frustrated by a recent U-turn which saw the brakes put on the return of supporters to the Recs. 

Mulraney, who is also vice president of the Scottish Football Association and a member of the Joint Response Group, is sure clubs could accommodate fans inside stadiums while offering a healthy, bio-secure environment.

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He said: “We find we are one of the only sectors of the economy where we cannot do what other sectors can do: have customers. 

“Scottish football is in the unbelievable position where our income stream has been turned off.

“It’s like being allowed to open your pub while being told you cannot allow anyone in. Scottish football must be one of the few industries that has to continue to trade, while having no customers.

“It is foolhardy for anyone to think that clubs in Scottish football are not at risk. 

“Any industry that is being asked to trade, when the cash taps have been turned off, is going to be in big trouble.”

Mulraney added in an interview with The Times: “It’s a matter of days since we had test events for fans, so it was reasonable, I think, for our clubs to have a realistic expectation that we would be getting fans back into games.

“You’ve got cinemas opening up, and restaurants opening up. In fact, fans are allowed to go and watch a football game indoors on a screen.

“I’m not in the business of saying to government: ‘you must help football’. 

“But Scottish football, of all the football environments in Europe, faces an incredible challenge in being told that we cannot have fans in grounds. 

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“Scottish football is a fan-critical sport. That’s what we are. Fans coming to games is key to our sport’s economy.

“I believe we can socially distance in football. I think we could reasonably allow people back into grounds. But, right now, we cannot allow fans back into our grounds and that is an existential threat to our game.

“I’m not saying the government is wrong — they have to make their decisions.

“But I think it is reasonable for Scottish football to say: ‘We are caught in a special set of circumstances here and we are probably going to need help. If we don’t get help our clubs are going to be in real trouble.’” 

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Alloa remain in a better position than most, debt free and with a relatively low wage budget, according to their most recent accounts. 

“By the nature of our industry, clubs make financial commitments to their players that we cannot break,” Mulraney added. “It’s not like having a pub where you can take on some staff, but if it gets tough you can say to them, ‘I’m sorry, I can’t give you a shift this week’. We make a financial commitment to our players: that is the reality.” 

If you would like to contact Clackmannanshire and Dunblane MSP Keith Brown to share your support for a return of fans to football grounds, you can do so here: 

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