FORMER SFA chief executive Stewart Regan says that the current Scottish football season must be played to a conclusion to protect the integrity of the game, no matter how long that may take.

As his successor Ian Maxwell prepares to take part in a UEFA teleconference along with 54 other countries in response to the coronavirus pandemic later today, Regan has stated his own belief that the season cannot simply be declared over with scheduled games still to take place.

He is hopeful that the potential postponement of the European Championships will open up a window in the summer for football to resume once more, with the completion of this season’s calendar the top priority, no matter the knock-on effect to the next campaign.

“The fixtures absolutely need to be played,” Regan said. “I just can’t contemplate having a situation where you don’t finish a season.

“The season is practically complete, we’re literally a few weeks away, and there is absolutely no reason - for the integrity of all competitions – that we can’t suspend competition, roll it on, and finish it when we can.

“In Scotland, before my time, I had heard of the Highland League for example going weeks without games because of snow and ice. They don’t say ‘let’s just scrap the season’, they simply catch up when they can. The Juniors in Scotland have had their season rolling into summer, and there are all sorts of precedents.

“For the good of the television deals, for the good of the integrity of the game, I honestly feel that the season has to be completed.

“There are all sorts of major implications if the leagues don’t finish the season. And not just at the title end, you have relegation, promotion, clubs planning for the following season, player contracts etc.

“I think that the best solution is to try and finish the season, push back any other tournaments that are going to get in the way of that, and look to come up with a compromise to fit them in whenever it is possible.”

Hearts confirmed yesterday that they would mount a legal challenge should the season be declared over and they are relegated as a result, just one of the many problems arising from following such a course, according to Regan.

“You’ve got the livelihood of clubs at stake,” he said. “You have the knock-on effects of future season-ticket sales, the impact of which division you are playing in, whether you can attract players for the following season.

“There’s all sorts of things that you are going to face if you decide to end the season before it’s actually been concluded.

“Hearts potentially taking legal action is a good example of why you have to conclude it.”