JOHNSTONE Burgh boss Jamie McKim admits the decision to suspend the West of Scotland Football League is a crushing blow for his players.

The Scottish Football Association (SFA) announced on Monday that all fixtures below SPFL Championship level were being paused as part of a bid to halt a surge in Covid cases.

It means both Burgh and Renfrew have been placed into cold storage for at least three weeks.

The clubs had been allowed to continue playing during the pandemic, albeit behind closed doors, as they were considered professional athletes.

McKim fears the suspension will have an impact on the mental health of his players but has pledged the club will offer support to help them cope.

Commenting on the decision to halt the league, he told Gazette Sport: “You hear whispers and things like that and you just hope it’s not going to be true.

“I’m really disappointed but I can understand it. There’s not much we can do about it.

“More than the physical aspect, it’s the mental side for our players. Football keeps us going and keeps some sort of normality in our lives but we have to accept that everyone is going through tough times.”

McKim admits being able to play matches this season has been “a release” for players and coaches during the pandemic.

“It was good to have training and games,” he said. “Hopefully that comes back sooner rather than later because it does help.

“We’ll keep the physical and mental support that we have in place for the players if it’s needed.

“There’s a bit more pressure on the club and the coaching staff to make sure there is support for the players but we’ll do what we can.”

Burgh’s fixtures with Neilston, Gartcairn and Irvine Victoria have been postponed, along with Renfrew’s matches against Maybole, St Roch’s and Craigmark Burntonians.

Should clubs return after three weeks, McKim’s side will visit Vale of Clyde, with Renfrew travelling to Haddington Athletic in the Soccer Shop Challenge Cup.

A spokesperson for the SFA said: “The board gave extensive consideration to making a decision in the interests of public health, taking cognisance of the government’s wish to reduce travel and possible contact with others whilst safeguarding commercial broadcasting contracts that sustain the professional game.”