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Ian Maxwell: 'Return of Scottish Cup will boost fans'

All but the top two tiers of the men's game were suspended in January due to increasing coronavirus concerns.

Scottish Football Association chief executive Ian Maxwell believes the resumption of the Scottish Cup this month will be another boost to supporters.

All but the top two tiers of the men’s game were suspended in January due to increasing coronavirus concerns.

However, it was announced on Tuesday that the SPFL League One and Two and Highland League clubs who remain in the competition are permitted to return to play immediately.

The country’s major cup competition will resume on Tuesday, March 23 in order to complete the outstanding ties from the second round before the third round is played on the weekend of April 3.

The last two weekends in April will see the fourth and fifth rounds of the competition completed prior to the semi-finals which will be held across the weekend of May 8.

The 2021 Scottish Cup Final will bring the curtain down on the season at Hampden Park on Saturday, May 22.

That date is two weeks later than initially scheduled but the Premiership season will finish as planned on May 15-16.

One round of fixtures had already been moved forward to a date vacated by cup action, and a second round of post-split fixtures has been added.

The Premiership will resume after the split on April 10, with midweek games on April 20-21 and May 11-12.

Maxwell said: “The Scottish Cup is our flagship competition and we are pleased that the temporary suspension of the lower leagues has now been lifted to allow the matches to resume.

“With the green shoots of hope emerging with the continuing successful rollout of the vaccination programme and the announcement of restrictions easing in the future, the news that the Scottish Cup Final will be played in May at Hampden Park will hopefully come as a further boost to Scottish football fans this week.

“The remaining rounds will be played in quick succession and with the fixtures coming thick and fast as the domestic season comes to a conclusion, the showpiece Scottish Cup Final will once again provide an exciting finale for the Scottish football season.”

The competition will see the introduction of concussion substitutes on a trial basis, following approval by the Scottish FA Board and confirmation by the International Football Association Board [IFAB].

In the event of an actual or suspected concussion, clubs will be allowed to use a maximum of two concussions replacements, regardless of the number of substitutions already made.

The opposition will be permitted to make another change at the time a concussion substitution is made.

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