The chairman of the West of Scotland Football League (WoSFL) has admitted it is extremely unlikely that fans will be allowed into grounds on the opening day of the season.

It comes after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed that there would be a delay to the phased return of supporters in stadiums until at least October 5 having previously been pencilled in for September 14.

The delay has been attributed to a rise of coronavirus cases across the country.  

With the WoSFL set to kick-off on October 10, chairman Dave McKenna admits that the delay has scuppered any real chance that some fans would be able to attend fixtures on the opening day.

He said: “We are a few paces behind the top leagues in all of this so if there are delays there then that does not help our case. The only good thing about it is the timescale as the next three-week review is still within our start date.

“However, I don’t think anyone genuinely thinks we will start with fans and I do not think there is any expectation whatsoever from clubs that that will be the case.

“We hope there will be some relaxation of restrictions before we start but if there is a period without fans then the shorter it is the better for clubs from a financial perspective.

"If in the longer-term you are only allowed minimal fans or none at all then it puts in to question the whole viability of football."

Despite the setback McKenna says the league will still go ahead as planned next month.

He said: “The plan is still to go ahead on October 10.  One of the difficulties we have is because of a late start we have already lost two months of a normal season which makes it even more difficult to delay any further.

“However, we of course have different options that we are looking into and monitoring the situation closely. For example, Glasgow teams can only play within their local area and if that stays in place or  is extended to other areas in the west then that adds another layer of complications for us.”

Several clubs in the new WoSFL will be returning to action this weekend with over 20 pre-season friendlies taking place – the first matches to be played since March.

McKenna has issued a plea to clubs to follow all the guidance in place so there are no further setbacks.

He said: “We have around 21 friendlies approved for the weekend which has been a job in itself because the clubs have had to meet a lot of criteria and confirm they are compliant with all restrictions.

“The games need to be played under the protocols in place. There are no changing rooms, no spectators at all and it is going to be difficult for players who will have to come fully stripped, play and then go back home in the same kit.

“This is not a normal return to football as it is very restrictive but the message to make clear is if we don’t get this right we won’t get a chance to do anything else.

“The better we show we can handle these pre-season games the better the chance we have got going forward.

"Football has been given special dispensation so we must comply with those rules otherwise the Scottish FA and Scottish Government will say if you can’t deliver with that then we cannot move this forward with more people.”

He added: “It was not that long ago we thought we would not kick a ball at all until the new year now we are in the middle of September with matches so it has been a big move forward in a short period of time.

“This weekend is about baby steps and if we get them right hopefully we can make bigger steps in the coming weeks and months.”