THERE is something of the boy who cried wolf around the latest dire warnings coming from Scottish football’s establishment about the peril our clubs are currently in, and the catastrophic consequences that will ensue if fans aren’t allowed back into stadiums soon.

The blazers have foretold Armageddon for our game so often over the last few years that they make Private Frazer seem sunny in his disposition, but as the old saying goes, even a broken clock is right twice a day. Sadly for our football clubs, they only need to be right once when it comes to the doomsday scenario, and this week, the blind squirrel may just have stumbled over an unsavoury nut.

The revelation from both the UK and Scottish governments that trialling the return of supporters to matches would be shelved for the foreseeable due to a spike in positive coronavirus test results, and that fans may not return to stadiums for at least another six months, was a grave moment for our football clubs.

Yes, the wider societal issues are of far greater importance, but we’re not just talking about people being denied the chance to watch the frivolous spectacle of 22 men chasing a ball around a field here. We’re talking about the livelihoods of those employed directly and indirectly by football.

Football has a huge impact, both financially and culturally, on Scotland. The potential demise of any of our football clubs shouldn’t just be viewed through the prism of the fans who would be desperately sad to lose something they love, but from the point of view of those who depend on the presence of that club to earn a crust, and also from the community who would lose so much if a club was forced to pull down the shutters for good.

That’s why the cries for help that have come from the SFA and SPFL Joint Response Group towards the Scottish Government should be taken seriously by those who hold the public purse strings, as stretched as those resources may be in this dire moment.

There will be those out there who may ask why Scottish football can’t help itself. Those who look at the transfer fees being paid out by our top clubs – even over this summer – and ask why cloths can’t be cut accordingly to fit the new reality we all face across society. Why can’t those who are better off, like Celtic and Rangers, help those who may be struggling?

On the face of it, those are sound points. Even Rangers manager Steven Gerrard has suggested that his own club and those of similar ilk should pay for smaller clubs to perform coronavirus testing so that the Betfred Cup, for example, can be played to completion.

Those who counter that argument by asking why Tesco doesn’t help out Asda or Starbucks doesn’t help out Costa miss the point that these organisations don’t need each other. Football, and sport in general, is one of the few areas of ‘business’ where competition is vital, rather than unwelcome.

But there is one other crucial point being missed here, and it explains why such benevolence from our top clubs to those further down the chain is extremely unlikely to take place. Their own supporters, or at least a majority of them, wouldn’t stand for it.

Rangers fans will point out that when their own club was in dire financial straits, there wasn’t exactly a queue of willing saviours ready to bail them out, or even circumvent the rulebook to allow them back into the top division following their liquidation, when it would have clearly been in the financial interests of all parties to have done so.

You can debate the rights and wrongs of that scenario all day long, and plenty have done just that for the past eight years, but from the point of view of the Rangers support, the rest of the Scottish game sunk the boot into them when they were down on their knees, and it won’t soon be forgotten.

Celtic supporters seem no keener on the idea. Some are holding up their purchase of David Turnbull from Motherwell for £3m as some great act of benevolence, an example of the trickle-down economics that smaller clubs should be grateful for, as if they themselves gained nothing from the deal.

Others, from both clubs in fairness, are simply asking this simple question: why should they? They have chosen to spend their hard-earned on their own club, with no guarantee they will even set foot inside a stadium this season. Why should that money be handed over to others?

That may seem a self-defeating attitude, given that a two-horse fixture list in practice rather than just the two-horse contest for the league crown we currently have wouldn’t hold the attention of even the most ardent Old Firm devotee. Such is football.

We tend to think of such attitudes in parochial terms, that only in Scotland would we be so petty as to hate ourselves to death by failing to see the bigger picture. But any notion of socialism died in football a long time ago.

Just look at the comments from Burnley manager – yes, Burnley – Sean Dyche this week. He too is in the ‘would McDonald’s help out Pizza Hut’ brigade, as having accessed the riches of the English Premier League, he seems perfectly comfortable pulling the drawbridge up behind him.

Thankfully, a healthy dose of realism set in for most Scottish clubs some time ago, and while none were able to foresee a global pandemic of this scale, most of these institutions should manage to survive in some form with a bit of trimming here and there – perhaps even being placed into mothballs - until things get a bit closer to normal.

It has to be hoped that the government will recognise the importance of the sport to society to fill any shortfalls there may be, because rest assured, the whales aren’t about to rescue the plankton.