THE SPFL today confirmed that lower league clubs will have to test their players for coronavirus before they play Premiership opponents in the Betfred Cup this season – or face forfeiting the tie.

Kilmarnock manager Alex Dyer yesterday expressed his concern about the Rugby Park club playing Championship, League 1 and League 2 rivals in the competition when it gets underway next month.

Currently, only top flight clubs are required to test their players and Dyer argued it made “no sense” for them to play teams who aren’t and risk picking up Covid-19.

However, the SPFL have revealed that lower league clubs will have to swab test players for 168 hours prior to a match against a Premiership club and provide results two days beforehand - or risk having a 3-0 result awarded against them.

Elsewhere, the SPFL confirmed that Premiership clubs entering colts teams in this season’s Challenge Cup will foot the bill for their opponents to undergo coronavirus testing.

A statement read: “In relation to the Betfred Cup, a number of lower division and non-SPFL (and therefore non-swab testing) clubs will play against Premiership (swab testing) clubs this season.

“To minimise the risk of transmission to Premiership players, any team drawn against a Premiership club in the Betfred Cup this season will be required to swab test their players in the 168-hour period prior to that Betfred Cup fixture, with results provided to the League by midday two days prior to the tie.

“As with Premiership league fixtures, any players who test positive would be required to self-isolate and would not be able to take part in the tie.

“If a club is unable or unwilling to field a team in a Betfred Cup Round 1 group stage tie, or fails to provide sufficient negative test results, the club concerned will forfeit the match (on the basis of a 3- 0 defeat).”

The statement continued: “The SPFL’s Challenge Cup has, over its history, predominantly been a competition for the benefit of lower league clubs. It also noted that prize money in this competition is significantly less than for the Betfred Cup.

“As a result, the SPFL Board does not consider it reasonable to impose a requirement on clubs to have to swab test, if they are drawn against a colt team in the Challenge Cup.

“However, the prospect of having their colt team play against an untested team may concern Premiership clubs, due to the increased risk of transmission of Covid-19 into their playing ‘bubble’.

“The SPFL Board has therefore decided that for any tie not involving a colt team, there will be no requirement to swab test, for any tie involving a colt team, the Premiership club may elect for their opponent to have to swab test their squad in the 168 hours before kick-off, but at the cost of the Premiership club, Premiership clubs may elect not to enter a colt team in the Challenge Cup this season.

“As with the Betfred Cup, there is potential for a club not to (or not to be able to) play a tie. In these circumstances, the club concerned will forfeit the match, with their opponents automatically progressing to the next round.”

SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster said: “The enormous efforts SPFL clubs are going to is a sign of the sport’s determination to do everything humanly possible to mitigate the impact of Covid- 19.

“The very future of many of our clubs depends on this comprehensive suite of steps to which clubs are rigorously adhering. The fact that Premiership clubs will pay for Covid-19 tests to be carried out by lower league opponents in the Challenge Cup is very positive.

“Everyone in our game knows we are all in this together and the fact that the game as a whole is taking a very collegiate and mature approach augurs very well for the future.”