Kilwinning Rangers manager Chris Strain fears that there is a “real danger” that a generation of players will be lost as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

It comes as the kick-off for the new West of Scotland Football League was delayed until October 24 at the earliest following a vote by clubs as part of a survey.

The season was due to commence on October 10 but 70 per cent of clubs in the region said they would not support a return until fans are allowed back, leaving organisers with little option but to delay.

Strain said: “It’s very important for us in the first instance to get the league kicked off. If we get the league underway there is something to talk about. If we do not then the government will say that’s delayed so we don’t need to do anything. Whereas if we get back playing then we can have a discussion about having fans back in.

“If we don’t kick-off in October you may as well just forget about this season.

“For us it will depend on the players as to how long it is viable to play without fans when we do start. If they say contractually, they are due money then they would be right but we are looking to come to an agreement.

“If players say they are not playing for a restricted remuneration or expenses we would have to release them and look for other players.

“There is a real danger you will lose a generation of players who are not playing full-time football to this pandemic. That is not an exaggeration - people will find other things to do.

“You look at guys at the tail end of their career and if they miss a year, they won’t play again.

“Every level below the Scottish Premiership are going to have some real difficult questions in the coming months.

“To a degree I would say clubs at our level have been overlooked. There is a fair proportion that follow local teams. Unfortunately, that is skewed by money so Premiership clubs have a louder voice.

“It’s a very difficult situation. The key is to get back playing and then from there you can have an argument on how you loosen the strings but if you do not start there are no strings to loosen.”