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Stephen Craigan

Everyone must chip in to ensure that all clubs make it through the coronavirus storm

Stephen Craigan


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Leading by example: Hearts captain Steven Naismith has agreed to take a 50% pay cut

Leading by example: Hearts captain Steven Naismith has agreed to take a 50% pay cut

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Leading by example: Hearts captain Steven Naismith has agreed to take a 50% pay cut

Football players dislike nothing more than not being able to fulfil their duties of simply playing the game. The current shutdown is taking plenty of them out of their comfort zone, as it's all new.

Like everyone else, they are in uncharted waters work-wise because being outside in the fresh air and honing their skills is part of their daily routine.

I've spoken to a few footballers over the past few weeks just to get a sense of what it's like and how they're feeling in these unprecedented times.

The uncertainty surrounding all walks of life makes for a worrying time and, with regards to some of the players I was in contact with, they're out of contract in May and it's adding to their anxiety. The not knowing is a daunting place to be and that's exactly where many are at the minute.

The overriding emotion I found is that they're missing the stimulation of being amongst team-mates. The buzz of the dressing room they have previously taken for granted won't be felt for some time.

A dressing room can be a tough, unforgiving place at times but on the flipside it can be the heartbeat of a football club when everyone is pulling in the same direction. They are getting a bit of cabin fever and missing the camaraderie.

Traditionally when players get downtime in the summer, or here in Scotland with a winter shutdown, there's an end date and a return date so players know what their time off is.

What that means is they can get a balance to their life with training and downtime. There is no time scale on this current pandemic as no one knows the long-term outlook, so again it's unnerving.

They are simply awaiting a text message or phone call from their managers to let them know when they can potentially resume the season.

Another issue for players is training alone and trying to replicate the intensity of a group session.

With some facilities rightly being closed down it's just another hurdle they have to overcome, finding somewhere safe to stay fit.

A bit of good news for players and clubs alike was announced on Thursday as the SPFL said they would bring forward payments to all senior clubs that weren't due for another few weeks.

This was certainly a welcome relief to many as clubs and supporters have started crowd funding pages just to stay afloat. These payments will take the pressure off short-term but the long-term is still clouded.

Hearts have already asked all the club's employees to take a 50% wage cut or leave the club and Aberdeen expressed their fears this week over how they will fill the huge hole of lost revenue.

Hearts captain Steven Naismith has pledged to accept a 50% pay cut in order to save jobs and help the club survive through the coronavirus crisis.

Manager Daniel Stendel, meanwhile, insists he will not pressurise any of his Hearts players to take a pay cut but hopes others will follow Naismith's lead

I can only imagine how smaller clubs must be feeling if prestigious ones like Hearts and Aberdeen are already feeling the heat.

I fear these clubs speaking out could be just the tip of the iceberg as Scottish football braces itself for a tough summer ahead.

Celtic and Rangers may just be immune to the financial troubles and if they are then they will be in the minority.

Over the coming weeks and months, everyone will have to play their part, from players to supporters to directors, to ensure that when football does come back, we have the full allocation of 42 clubs that we have just now.

I can't help but think that when we do get our football back the stands will be packed and people will appreciate their club more than ever.

Remember this will all come to an end at some point, and please stay safe.

Belfast Telegraph