Shotts gaffer John McKeown admits teams are starting to face up to the prospect that the West of Scotland League may not start up until next year.

While the game at the top level in Scotland is set to return in August, the rest of the senior, junior, amateur and grassroots teams below them will struggle to get back on the pitch while lockdown and social distancing measures remain in place.

Many sides at Shotts’ level rely on the use of council-run pitches, as well as gyms and indoor training facilities.

And there’s uncertainty surrounding when such facilities will be operating as normal again.

McKeown said: “We are just desperate to get back, but we’ve got to take into consideration that it might be next year.

Most junior teams train at local authority pitches or schools, so are we going to be able to go there or keep our distance in places like that?

Shotts manager John McKeown
Shotts manager John McKeown

“There’s not been any clear messages in football, apart from the top level.

“Will they have a blanket where nobody below the top level plays? I don’t know. We just need to sit tight and see what the powers that be tell us.”

Clubs also need income from supporters coming through the gates, but any football being played in the near future will be behind closed doors until it is deemed safe to allow fans back into grounds.

McKeown added: “There’s not massive crowds at our level.

“For Shotts, we’re lucky if we get a couple hundred people and Hannah Park can take a good couple of thousand, so we could spread people out.

It may be some time before fans go through the gates at Hannah Park again

“That’s not the issue. It’s players training, changing rooms and people coming through the gates that will be the issue.”

The lockdown hasn’t prevented clubs from being ready for next season, whenever that may be, with teams making signings across the West of Scotland Confereneces.

However, McKeown admits that with 12 players already signed up for next season before the shutdown hit, The Bonny are taking a more cautious approach.

He said: “Our social club has been closed for months and that’s our main source of income, so there’s a much bigger picture for us to look at.

“We are fighting hard to get fundraisers together to keep the electricity on, never mind offering boys deals.

“We’ve spoken to players and we’ve got a few lined up, but that’s not the priority right now.

“Most boys are wanting to hang off and see what’s happening.”