After forfeiting their final two Premier Sports Cup games against Edinburgh City and Ayr United last week this weekend’s League 1 opener was in doubt.
However, in a statement released last night, Falkirk confirmed all players who had been isolating would be available in time for the game but were concered about the lack of preparation they would have.
A club spokesperson commented: “ As many of you will know the Club was made aware last week, via our routine testing regime, that five members of our first-team squad had returned positive COVID results. As a result of further investigation, an additional nine players from our first-team squad were identified as ‘close-contacts’ and as such were entered into a government-mandated period of ten day self-isolation. A total of fourteen players have been unavailable to take part in any training or match preparation for the past week.
"Nine of those players are able to exit the mandatory period of self-isolation at 12:01am on Friday morning, just over 24 hours before our fixture with Cove Rangers. The five remaining players can emerge from isolation at 12:01am on Saturday morning, a mere 15 hours before kick-off (these players are subject to a longer period of rehabilitation in accordance with agreed protocols).
"We have been engaged in dialogue with the SPFL for the past week to request a postponement for Saturday’s fixture given the difficult circumstances and on the grounds of player welfare. As a Club, we find it unacceptable that the SPFL expect our players, who will have been isolating for ten days with limited opportunity for exercise or match preparation, to engage in a competitive fixture at such short notice. This pays no respect to either the physical or mental condition of our players.
"Our request for a postponement has been rejected by the SPFL, despite the serious medical and welfare evidence which we have provided to them. We have also highlighted several examples of precedent where fixtures have been postponed. Our players have also made representations and sought advice from PFA Scotland to endorse our case for a postponement of the fixture. Our measured requests, accompanied by evidence and suitable alternative dates for the fixture to be played, have been met with the threat of disciplinary action from the SPFL.
"Needless to say, we remain disappointed by the approach adopted by the SPFL and should we be forced to play Saturday’s fixture it will be under duress and an action that we believe risks the health and wellbeing of our players and does nothing to enhance the credibility of the league or the decision making process of the SPFL.
"We have asked for the matter to be referred as a matter of urgency to the SPFL board, which unfortunately does not meet again until tomorrow (Thursday). Until the board deliberates we cannot provide supporters with a concrete answer on whether Saturday’s fixture will go ahead. We apologise that you as supporters are still without clarity but we hope the aforementioned demonstrates that we have been pushing for clarification on this matter for the past week and that our priority remains the health and wellbeing of our staff and players.
"We will keep supporters updated as soon as we can.”
Also responding to the SPFL’s decision not to postpone the match was local Green Party Gillian Mackay who said: “Falkirk Football Club have routinely tested their staff and players and adhered to Scottish Government isolation guidance.
"This decision punishes the football club early in the season and fails to respect the physical and mental condition of the team.
"The health & wellbeing of the players must be paramount and I urge the SPFL board to use common sense and to accept their request for Saturday's fixture v Cove Rangers to be postponed!”