JIM GOODWIN fears the financial implications of playing games behind closed doors could have very serious effects on Scotland’s lower league clubs – and outlined his hope that some form of assistance will be brought in to safeguard their futures.

The St Mirren boss is well acquainted with life outside the Premiership, having coached part-time Alloa for two seasons, and knows the pressure they will be facing to balance the books in the coming months as Scottish football awaits the all-clear for supporters to return to stadia.

With the Betfred Cup set to kick-off next month, concerns have been raised over how teams in the Championship, League One and League Two will fund their coronavirus testing procedures with fans not allowed through the turnstiles.

Goodwin is certain that the game’s administrators at the SFA and SPFL will be working hard to explore alternative methods of raising some much-needed cash for teams outside the top flight – and believes it would be a “good gesture” if Premiership sides could club together and provide some financial assistance themselves.

When asked if he feared that the Betfred Cup would not be able to run as scheduled this season, Goodwin replied: “I hope not. I know there is a lot of talk around testing and the financial capabilities of some of the part-time teams in the competition.

“I hope we’re able to find a way to assist the part-time teams and get a pot of money there that would allow them to take part in the competition.

“It’s a great cup for everyone and I think we’ve all enjoyed the new format of the past few years. From the sponsors’ point of view, but also from the other clubs, I hope we can get it up and running without too much complication.

“Some of the bigger clubs have got more money than others. We are not sitting with millions in the bank. We get by just like most of the others. We don’t carry debt, which is great and a credit to the board for the running of the club. But we certainly didn’t budget for no fans going into the New Year.

"We thought we would have some supporters back in for the Betfred Cup. That means we have to readjust the budget and plan for the future. I don’t know if the money is there for the SFA, the SPFL or whoever are able to help the part-time teams. Even if it was an interest-free loan for a little while that could be paid back over a couple of years.

“I don’t know but I’m sure these avenues will be looked at because the last thing we want is to lose a good sponsor from our game. We owe it to the sponsors to try and get the competition up and running, however we have to do it.

“If it means some of the bigger ones, and I include ourselves in that, helping and getting some kind of kind of pot there – if we can afford and I’m not saying we can – it would certainly be a good gesture.”

Goodwin added that if the Scottish football authorities do not have the financial reserves to facilitate such a move, then it could be time for clubs to look further afield in search of assistance.

He continued: “I know a lot of the part-time clubs live week to week. A stat was out there saying 43 percent of income for clubs in Scotland comes from gate receipts. That’s a hell of a lot of money for anyone to go without.

“It is worrying times, there’s no doubt about it. I saw the Chancellor in England announcing help for businesses and the furlough scheme in a different way. I wonder if there’s something government can do to help sports in general because we are such an important part of the community throughout Scotland and the UK.

“It’s not a case of going there with the begging bowl out but at the same time football makes huge contributions to the public purse through tax and other things, national insurance, and there are a lot of people employed in football. If there is assistance there, hopefully that will be the case.

“I was very fortunate for my first job to be at such a well-ran club as Alloa. I know of other lads got their first opportunities at other part-time teams and it was week to week. At Alloa it was a part-time team almost ran like a full-time club, they had two or three different kits.

“Alloa had Mr Mulraney there backing them but it doesn’t mean they have an endless amount of money. If there is help to smaller part-time teams then I hope we’re all able to do something to make contributions and hopefully the government can step in too. The last thing we want to see is clubs going to the wall.”

As for matters on the pitch, the solutions are far more straightforward. Without a win in five, the Buddies host Kilmarnock tomorrow afternoon with Goodwin determined to arrest his side’s slump in form. A win would go a long way to lifting the fortunes of the Paisley club.

With the joint-lowest goal difference in the league and coming off the back of four straight defeats, Goodwin sees tomorrow’s game as the perfect opportunity to turn things around. And while his side have struggled of late, the Irishman was keen to point out that there have been plenty of disruptions that have played their part.

“We’ve just got to accept the circumstances we’re in,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of disruption and people say they’re excuses. That’s not the case. You take responsibility for the situation we’re in.

“Just a few weeks ago we were talking about what a fantastic start we’d had now we’re on a poor run of form.

“Some of the games you have to put in perspective. The Hibs game was a disaster in the build-up. We’ve lost by the odd goal to the champions, we’ve lost 1-0 [to Dundee United] and 2-1 [to Celtic].

“I don’t think it’s a time for crisis. I’m certainly not sitting here worried about the future. I’ve got a very good squad of players.

“What I desperately hope for is that I have them all available in the coming weeks and then we can see what the real St Mirren team is going to look like. The chopping and changing, having to play people out of position, having to bring emergency goalkeepers in – it doesn’t help the situation, there’s no doubt about that.”