COWDENBEATH and the area's non-league clubs will not return to action until at least mid-February after a temporary suspension of football was extended.

The Scottish Football Association have, this afternoon, confirmed that the existing measures will remain in place until midnight on Sunday February 14.

The move comes as current lockdown restrictions put in place by the Scottish Government will also continue into the middle of next month.

On January 11, the governing body announced that all football - including the Scottish Cup - beneath the SPFL Championship would be stopped for three weeks in response to the rise in Covid-19 cases across the country.

In addition to League One and League Two, in which the Blue Brazil compete, Kelty Hearts, of the Lowland League; East of Scotland League, Premier Division clubs Crossgates Primrose, Dundonald Bluebell and Hill of Beath Hawthorn; and East of Scotland League, First Division sides Lochgelly Albert and Lochore Welfare, are all affected.

The SFA have also announced that the Scottish Cup fourth round, due to take place on February 20, will be rescheduled, freeing that weekend for league games to be played.

They said that they have "this week undertaken extensive consultation with representatives of leagues and clubs affected", whilst they will "continue to work with those affected to develop league and division- specific plans for a return to training and playing, including adequate training and conditioning time".

The SFA will provide a further update by Wednesday, February 10 and its president, Rod Petrie, said: "The conversations we have had with representatives from the clubs and leagues affected by the temporary suspension have been hugely beneficial.

"We have been able to further communicate the rationale behind the decision in the midst of an ongoing pandemic whilst also hearing at first hand the most important issues facing clubs and leagues at each level of the game.

"We have also been greatly encouraged by the sense of togetherness shown by the clubs and the robustness with which protocols and measures have been implemented in the interests of player and staff safety within football.  

"A number of initiatives have been suggested which may help to make the eventual return to playing efficient without compromising safety.

"The decision to extend the suspension is necessary given the Scottish Government’s own extension of existing lockdown measures. Football will play its part to support the collective effort to reduce the spread of the new variants of the COVID-19 virus.

"We are grateful for the input of all groups involved in our online discussions this week and we will continue to liaise ahead of our next public update on February 10th."

Following the initial announcement earlier this month, Cowden secretary, David Allan, told Times Sport that he would "be surprised" if the stoppage had lasted only for three weeks.

He said that the part-time status of the vast majority of clubs, with players working in various environments before attending training and playing matches, was the main reason for the suspension beneath the second tier.