THE Scottish FA and SPFL will lobby the Government on behalf of clubs to ensure they are compensated for loss of income following the latest round of Covid regulations.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced on Tuesday afternoon that - from Boxing Day and for a minimum of three weeks - stadia capacities will be limited to just 500 spectators.

And that has left many clubs fearing for the future financially as they face the prospect of limited crowds for the remainder of the festive fixture schedule and potentially beyond.

The SPFL have now faced calls to reschedule the winter break in an attempt to mitigate the losses following the imposing of restrictions that have left supporters across the country in the dark about when they will be able to see their team in action once again.

A statement from the Joint Response Group read: "The JRG is already in discussions with Scottish Government on behalf of clubs to ensure any loss of income at this critical period will be compensated via the COVID-19 support fund announced by the First Minister.

"The JRG will be holding a series of consultations about the impact of the new restrictions over the next 24 hours.

"The JRG has worked collaboratively with Scottish Government throughout the pandemic to ensure the stadium environment can be a safe and enjoyable experience for all, including the recent introduction of vaccine certification spot checking and asking supporters to demonstrate a negative Lateral Flow Test prior to arrival.

"A daily testing regime has been introduced across the Scottish Professional Football League and enhanced protocols implemented for playing and team staff.

"Equally, we aware of the threat of the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus and, to that end, have volunteered the use of stadia across the country to aid the vaccine and booster jab programmes.

"We appreciate the tough decisions faced by the government and clinicians in suppressing the transmission of Omicron and while we believe the mitigations implemented will have enabled stadia to be as safe as possible for the two weeks prior to the winter break, we have no control over the transport risks highlighted in today’s update."

The first half of the Premiership campaign is scheduled to draw to a close in a fortnight as the Old Firm clash at Parkhead takes centre stage.

The Dundee derby will be played at Dens Park later in the day on January 2, while Hearts make the trip to Easter Road on Monday, January 3.

All of those eye-catching fixtures could now be played in front of near empty stands, however, and SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster knows that decision will hit clubs hard in the pocket.

Doncaster said: “Today’s news will be a hammer blow to clubs and fans across the country, who simply could not have done more to mitigate the impact of the ongoing pandemic.

“Despite the enormous financial impact, the 42 clubs have provided an invaluable source of reassurance, support and relief from the day-to-day impact of COVID-19 in communities throughout Scotland and they will continue to do so.

“Our clubs have adapted quickly and effectively to previous restrictions, and we will work with them in implementing the guidance from today’s announcement in the coming days.”

Spectators who are permitted entry in the coming weeks will be subject to one metre physical distancing as clubs prepare to reintroduce Covid measures as a matter of urgency.

And chairman Rod Petrie will continue to state the case for the safe return of the game as clubs continue to look to play their part in the fight against Omicron.

Petrie said: “Today’s announcement is a source of disappointment to hundreds of thousands of fans across the country, for whom attending football matches during the festive season has been a tradition spanning generations.

“None the less, public health remains a priority for everyone in society as well as a responsibility for industries across the country, including football.

"The JRG exists to be the conduit between the national game and the Scottish Government throughout the pandemic and will continue to work with our members to ensure a seamless implementation of the new restrictions, whilst working on their behalf to ensure compensation for lost revenue via the UK and Scottish Government’s latest COVID relief fund.”