NO organisation could possibly have been adequately prepared to deal with the ravaging effects of Covid-19 but at Oriam they have at least been able to call upon the knowledge gained during other challenging times.

“We’re actually fairly experienced when it comes to crisis mode,” says Ross Campbell, executive director at Scotland’s sports performance centre.

“In 2016 we opened a brand new national facility while still running all our existing facilities. Then in 2018 we had to deal with the Beast from the East, and then last year one of our old buildings flooded. And now this year it’s Covid-19.

“So we’ve been through a lot in the last few years. Those experiences did genuinely help with managing this situation the best we can.”

Oriam, based at Heriot-Watt University’s Riccarton campus in Edinburgh, is a facility used by both casual and elite athletes alike. In theory, students could go for a run on a treadmill and see a Hearts midfielder working out to their left and a prop from Edinburgh Rugby doing similarly to their right. Although anyone in the gym won’t be working out quite so close in future.

The arena has been closed since March in line with government guidelines, depriving “anchor tenants” such as the two capital organisations mentioned above and Scottish Squash of their traditional base.

It is also seen the postponement of visits planned by the Scottish men’s national football and rugby squads ahead of their respective UEFA 2020 play-off and Six Nations commitments, while the Czech Republic were also meant to be in town this summer having booked Oriam as their hub for the Euros.

The good news is that the Czechs have already agreed to return next summer, while Oriam’s regular partners will start to filter back once the building re-opens, from July 1 if not before.

“We were one of the last facilities in the country to close and will probably be one of the first in the country to open again,” adds Campbell. “Around 92% of our staff are on furlough just now but the 8% who aren’t are planning pretty hard. We feel we could be open by July 1 or, if there’s stress-testing, we could even maybe bring that forward.

“We’ve obviously not been able to host the Scotland rugby or football teams recently and we also had English teams who had wanted to come up for pre-season. So that’s a shame we couldn’t deliver those.

“But Oriam was thriving before this and it will be again. Our name now has a wider reach. UEFA want to come back next year so Czech Republic are already booked in again. Plus we have long-term contracts with different sports and national agencies. We will have financial struggles no doubt but having such strong partners really helps.”

Campbell estimates Oriam – who are currently in the process of adding six indoor tennis courts - will lose £1m as a result of the enforced closure, a shortfall that will be met by Heriot-Watt as part of a long-term agreement.

But he hopes that the gradual easing of lockdown will soon see more sports get the green light to return to help prevent those losses from expanding.

“We’re very fortunate to have someone like the university who invest in us as our staff costs alone are more than 50% of our expenditure,” adds Campbell.

“It won’t be easy but we’re staying positive-minded. The government can’t look exclusively at the R number (that measures how quickly the coronavirus will spread) as there are so many other things that will affect the health and well-being of the nation.

“They’ve done a sensible job to date but it can’t just stay open-ended as there’s no way the university could keep Oriam afloat if we were losing millions. But as long as it’s a short-term thing then they will be there for us.”

Campbell is eager to see football return soon, too. The Montrose player/assistant manager plans on pulling on the boots again as he approaches his 37th birthday and says the League One club will be in the vanguard for any movement to bring football back in the lower divisions in 2020.

“Montrose would put itself forward to play if that was an option,” he added, stressing that he was speaking in a personal capacity rather than relaying the club's official stance.

“To mothball the whole season would just be ridiculous for me. You see that mentality where some clubs would happily hunker down and take a year off.

“Whereas our attitude is the opposite. We want to play and look after our fans and our community. Montrose is in a fantastic position. We’ve got 18 signed players and before furlough they had actually brought forward a proposal to the club offering to halve their wages.

“A lot of our volunteers are still in at the club, cooking meals that are being shared out around the community. There’s a real sense of positivity and energy all through the club and that has helped us manage this situation the best we can.”