ARTHURLIE secretary Jim Hannigan has defended the Barrhead club’s decision to withdraw from competitive football this season.

The Dunterlie Park outfit is one of 13 clubs to pull out of the new West of Scotland Football League (WoSFL) ahead of its inaugural season as the coronavirus pandemic continues to hit sport hard.

New manager Andy McFadyen had put together an exciting squad after joining Arthurlie in April, with the coaching staff targeting a league title.

However, the club decided to withdraw after it was confirmed supporters would not be allowed into matches and players would be unable to use changing rooms.

The fact there will no longer be promotion and relegation this season was also a key consideration.

Speaking to Barrhead Sport, Hannigan revealed that the players and management team had agreed to give up their wages if the club decided to remain in the league.

He said: “It was an exceptionally difficult decision. We had put so much work into the build-up, with joining the new league and bringing in a new management team, getting together new players and starting to get the ball rolling.

“The players were willing to play without any wages, so we couldn’t ask for any more from them or the management staff.

“They have done really well for us but, when it was decided there was no promotion or relegation, that was what killed it.

“Having the club in a safe place is the most important thing, so the supporters can come back when there’s a healthier climate. It’s really difficult at the moment but we’ve made the right decision, there’s no doubt about that, for the safety of the supporters and of the club.”

Other ‘big guns’ to withdraw from the league include Auchinleck Talbot, Cumnock, Glenafton Athletic, Kilbirnie Ladeside and Pollok.

It means that Arthurlie’s players will be left kicking their heels this weekend as the new campaign gets underway.

However, Hannigan is hoping much of the squad can be retained for next season.

He added: “Andy has said he’d love to be here next season, so he’s committed himself to that, and the coaches are the same.

“We’re in discussion with the SFA at the moment about what happens with the players contracts, so that’s all I can really say about that.”