Hopes are growing that the lower leagues will get permission to go back into action this week.

Football below the championship in Scotland was suspended by the SFA on January 11th.

In order to support the restart, the clubs of the first and second division formed a working group and prepared a document to resume the game, which included the commitment to carry out weekly coronavirus tests on the staff.

Talks between the SFA and the Scottish government continued last week and it appears that approval for a few levels below the second level could be given to resume in the coming days.

National clinical director Jason Leitch said that “quite a bit of progress has been made” in this regard.

“It’s a conversation that is still going on. We (the government) have some influence,” Leitch said on the BBC’s Off the Ball program.

“We want to do it in a collaborative and collegial way, we don’t like laws for elite sport and we don’t want to say that you can or cannot.

“We want this to be done with the Joint Response Group (JRG), the Minister of Sport (Mairi Gougeon) and the clinical advisors and we have made great strides towards the next phase.

“I’m pretty confident that there will be news this week that will show where we are headed for the next phase.

“I hope this will be joint news from the Scottish Government and the League (SPFL-SFA) as we try to do this together.

“But it’s complicated because there are the reasons why we should, but also 800 positive cases a day in the country, a lot of travel and these teams are not full time so they are not quite as protected as some of the full time teams can be.

“It’s not quite as easy as it might seem, but I hope that with damage control and safety, we can do it.”

The extension of the loan window raises hopes for the teams

Hopes of a return have also been raised, with lower division clubs being informed of an extension of the loan window.

Typically, the lower league loan window closes a month after the January transfer window closes.

However, it is believed that the deadline for lower division teams to attract players for short-term deals will be extended to the end of March to allow clubs to expand their roster when given the green light to resume this month.

Meanwhile, Mr Leitch also pointed out that fans in some areas could potentially return in some numbers if the lockdown in Scotland wears off.

The country is expected to return to a tiered system of restrictions starting April 26.

Before the last lockdown, clubs in Level 1 could accept up to 300 fans in the games.

That meant Ross County, Inverness Caley Thistle, Elgin City and 10 Highland League clubs in the Highlands and Moray could let fans in.

Mr Leitch added: “All right, if there are no dramatic changes for better or for worse, Scotland will return to a regional system on April 26th.

“We didn’t say that it would be individual local authorities, and we didn’t say that everyone would move to Level 3. Some people might switch to level 2.

“By then we can maybe get the whole country to Level 3 or Level 2 – we have to wait for the data.”