FEARS have been raised that football clubs could face the final whistle unless more is done to help them during the coronavirus pandemic.

East Lothian’s senior teams have played behind closed doors since the new season kicked off last month.

Finances are being stretched, with no fans coming through the turnstiles to cheer on their local teams.

Now, letters have been sent to the Scottish Government calling for assistance to ensure teams make it through the difficult period.

Councillor Colin McGinn, previously on the committee of Tranent Juniors, was among those calling for something to be done.

He told the Courier: “My worry is, in the current climate, if the Government does not do something to take the shackles off, we could lose these clubs.

“They are integral to the community.

“They do a lot of work in the community and it is not just football any longer.

“If you lose them, you are losing an institution and they are not coming back.”

The Labour administration on East Lothian Council has also written to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon about the issue, calling for a month-long trial to be carried out under the supervision of the local authority.

Labour councillor Mr McGinn stressed it was not just about the clubs but also the benefits to the fans.

He said: “What we are looking at is supporters who walk to the game. They are not using buses, trains or trams.

“I have had a number of chats, mostly with elderly blokes, about how much they are missing the football and it was their weekly outing.

“That is a big thing for somebody and their mental health.”

Tom Thornton, secretary of Haddington Athletic, who top the East of Scotland Football League First Division Conference A, backed Mr McGinn’s call, while stressing he recognised that football might not be considered crucial in the bigger picture.

He said: “I’m absolutely supportive of all efforts being made to have supporters allowed back into grounds.”

Norman Murray, vice-president of Musselburgh Athletic, has also written to Joe FitzPatrick MSP, Minister for Public Health and Wellbeing, about the issue.

He said: “Clubs that have been at the centre of communities for over 100 years in some cases – in our case 110 years – are dying, starved of resources and denied the oxygen of supporters along with the services that they can offer, particularly to young people.

“Without financial support, many good local clubs will be lost.

“These are the very clubs that do so much in their local communities and they cannot, and must not, be allowed to go to the wall.”

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said they were aware that football authorities, clubs and supporters were “desperate to see fans back as soon as possible”.

She added: “We realise this is frustrating and disappointing, and will have a financial impact on clubs in East Lothian, but public health will continue to be our top priority.

“The strategic framework published on October 29 indicated that supporters would be permitted in restricted numbers in Levels 0 and 1.

“We hope East Lothian and other parts of Scotland will see an improved outlook to allow it to move into a lower tier and allow appropriate activities to resume, including supporters attending football matches.”