Partick Thistle Ian McCall reckons Scottish football must rally together and display kindness amid Covid league shut down fear

The Jags were one of three clubs that felt the full effects of a curtailed 2019/20 campaign

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Partick Thistle manager Ian McCall believes now is a time for Scottish football to rally together and show kindness as the Omicron variant threatens to derail the fixture calendar.

With a sharp rise in new Covid cases across the country, fears over a potential league shut down have grown in recent days.

The Jags were one of three clubs that felt the full effects of a curtailed 2019/20 campaign after McCall’s men were on the receiving end of a majority vote that resulted in them being demoted to League One, despite being just two points off Queen of the South in ninth with a game in hand.

If this season were to be halted, the Firhill outfit will know a repeat scenario isn’t in the offing as they sit among the top five in the Championship, 11 points clear of Hamilton in sixth.

McCall offered his thoughts on the current state of affairs, stating: “I did put forward a suggestion in the summer to the chief executive (of the SFA, Ian Maxwell) that we should try to shut down in January and February, the whole of Scottish football, and just look ahead and think that something might work.

“But hey ho, it’s come again. It’s not looking good right now but everybody has just got to get on with it and do the very best we can.

“This sounds really soppy but my way through it is, A, to be sensible and, B, to be very kind to one another - not just in football. That is the key to it all.

“You do worry about postponements but hopefully we won’t fall into the situation that we found ourselves in when I arrived here two-and-a-half years ago.

“I felt at the time that the whole league structure should have been changed to three leagues of 14 and playing far fewer games over a three- or four-year period just to see this out, and to have a January-February shutdown every season.

“The one thing I’ll say is, if there’s a team at the bottom with a game in hand with a quarter of the season to go, our club would certainly not vote to put them down.”

Asked if the word point-per-game send a shiver down his spine, McCall replied: “Not now, now the club’s changed.

“Nobody has a crystal ball. We just need to see how things progress. There are still a lot of variables not known about the current mutation. So we just have to get on with it, take it week by week and try to keep safe, particularly at this time of year.”

Thistle suffered their first defeat in ten games against Arbroath last weekend and McCall found it hard to criticise his players, despite their below-par performance.

He added: “I wasn’t aware at the time but we got booed off at half-time after conceding our first goal in nine games. I love Scottish football, it’s magnificent!

“Arbroath deserved to win. They mastered the conditions better than us but I couldn’t be too hard on the players.

“The caveat of that was we missed a fantastic chance to make it 1-1, which would have changed the whole complexion of the game, but you move on.

“My belief is the top five will all take points against each other. I think at times it may be what you do against the bottom five that turns out to be crucial. We’ll see.”

One of those side’s battling for promotion this season is Raith Rovers, who visit Firhill Stadium this afternoon after the previous encounter between the sides resulted in a five-goal thriller.

John McGlynn’s side are on an impressive 15-game unbeaten run stretching back to September and McCall has nothing but admiration for his opposite number.

He admitted: “John is a very good manager, I’ve had a lot of time for him over many years, even when he was taking Hibs reserves. There were a few things he did that I thought were great.

“I love the way he’s changed his philosophy, so I’ve got a lot of time for him.

“The game up there at Stark’s Park was terrific, it finished 3-2 to them but it should really have been 4-4.

“I’m sure this game will be different. I don’t think either team will be able to play the type of football we want to play on our pitch, but sometimes it just depends on which team masters the conditions and works hard enough.

“Up until last week, ourselves and Raith were on the two best runs in the league and now it’s just Raith, so it’s up to us to change that. A win for us tightens it up an awful lot again.

“After the first quarter we had 15 points and I said it was very important for that to be our worst quarter. If we manage to beat Raith, it would be 16 points for the second quarter.

“What is also relevant is that it is only halfway to the end of the season. There’s a long, long way to go and the January window is coming up, so there is lots to play for.”

McCall will hope to keep hold of all of his first-team stars next month, with rumours linking Dundee United with an interest in striker Zak Rudden.

McCall said: “I haven’t seen that and I’m still confident of keeping him, yeah. I’m also still confident of Tunji (Akinola) and Sneds (Jamie Sneddon) signing new contracts.”