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Scottish football suspended until further notice due to coronavirus

Scottish football has announced an immediate suspension, with all games – including Sunday’s Old Firm derby – postponed until “further notice”.

The Scottish Football Association and Scottish Professional Football League’s joint response group have decided to call a halt to action in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

Rangers were due to stage champions-elect Celtic but the Ibrox clash has now been shelved.

Friday night’s meeting between Motherwell and Aberdeen plus four other top-flight fixtures across the weekend also face being re-arranged.

The Championship showdown between Queen of the South and Ayr is also off, along with the rest of the lower league card.

In a statement, the joint response group said it had been decided to suspend “all domestic professional and grassroots football under the jurisdiction of the Scottish FA until further notice”.

It added: “The Scottish FA and SPFL will continue to liaise with governments and UEFA in relation to domestic, European and International fixtures in the coming days and more information will be communicated at the appropriate time.

“The Scottish FA Board made its decision in the interests of the health and safety of players, match officials, staff, supporters and the general public.”

SFA chief executive Ian Maxwell said: “Since the guidance outlined by governments last night we have been engaged in extensive dialogue to clarify the position and implications of that guidance for Scottish football.

A capacity 50,000-strong crowd was expected at Ibrox on Sunday

A capacity 50,000-strong crowd was expected at Ibrox on Sunday (Ian Rutherford/PA)

“Today’s announcement is made in the interests of public health but, equally, the health and safety of players, match officials, and staff across the game. This is of paramount importance as the country enters the ‘delay’ phase of the coronavirus pandemic.

“It is also why the Scottish FA is compelled to ensure that the suspension is cascaded through the non-professional and grassroots games until further notice.”

His SPFL counterpart Neil Doncaster added: “As everyone knows, this is a fast-moving and unprecedented situation for the entire country.

“We have been in intensive and detailed discussions since last night and have also been taking on board the experience of our counterparts in England and across Europe.

“As a result, the board of the SPFL has agreed this morning that all league fixtures this weekend and next midweek will be postponed until further notice.

Scottish FA chief Executive Ian Maxwell (left) and SPFL chief Executive Neil Doncaster (right) have announced a suspension of all football in Scotland

Scottish FA chief Executive Ian Maxwell (left) and SPFL chief Executive Neil Doncaster (right) have announced a suspension of all football in Scotland (Jeff Holmes/PA)

“The health and safety of fans, players and officials is absolutely paramount. We have not yet had any confirmed cases of coronavirus amongst players in Scotland, but, given the nature of this outbreak, it seems only a matter of time.

“We realise that many people will be bitterly disappointed, and we would obviously prefer to be in a position where we can continue as normal, but that’s neither realistic nor possible.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced on Thursday that the Scottish Government was advising that events attracting crowds of more than 500 people should be cancelled as of Monday.

Rangers’ trip to Germany for the second leg of their Europa League last 16 clash with Bayer Leverkusen has already been postponed by Uefa.