Kelty Hearts captain Gary Cennerazzo urges reconstruction talks amid season uncertainty

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GARY CENNERAZZO has family on the outskirts of Naples, close friends in the Czech Republic and a business importing wine from Italy.

So the Kelty Hearts captain is acutely aware that football is an afterthought in the face of the coronavirus crisis.

Nevertheless, the experienced defender has urged the authorities not to snub Kelty and Brora Rangers if they decide to dish out prizes early.

Cennerazzo, R, in action for FK Varnsdorf

According to reports, the 2019/20 season could be scrapped in the face of the Covid-19 outbreak, with the standings as of March 13 being honoured.

However, with no scope to fulfil the playoff between the winners of the Highland and Lowland Leagues and subsequent meeting with the side that finishes bottom of League 2 – Brechin City – it has been mooted that there would be no promotion to the SPFL.

Cennerazzo believes that would be a hammer-blow to Kelty, who are bossed by Barry Ferguson and lead the Lowland League by six points, and Brora, top of the Highland League with a yawning 13-point cushion.

He has urged those in the corridors of power at Hampden to instead consider expanding League Two.

Cennerazzo said: “We understand that public health and lives come first but, in football terms, the boys are all a bit shellshocked at the moment. It’s surreal.

“For a potential shot at promotion to be taken away would be so disappointing, having worked so hard to get to this position in a really competitive league.

“I think this is a good time to look at expanding that division with clubs at the top of the Lowland and Highland Leagues. It would be a fair outcome – and would benefit Scottish football in the long term. I would hope there’d be support for a bigger, stronger league. 

“There’s no doubt that clubs like Kelty and Brora – with good squads and tradition – would bring a lot to the SPFL.”

Kelty’s recently refurbished New Central Park home

While passionate about Kelty’s cause, Cennerazzo’s opinion is calm and considered. He is conscious that it would be churlish to rant and rave about football in the current circumstances.

Cennerazzo’s father, Antonio, hails from Italy and he has family currently on lockdown in the Campania region.

Although the south of the country has not been as badly affected as the north, he still paints a picture of an area gripped by fear amid a death toll now approaching 2000 in the nation.

The well-travelled Scotsman has also played in the U.S., Sweden and for Czech side FK Varnsdorf, where he crossed swords with ex-Liverpool star Milan Baros.

He continued: “I have cousins and uncles over in Italy but they are in the south of the country, which hasn’t had it as bad as the north.

“From speaking to my family over there, some people are still going about their business but the streets are mainly deserted; eerily quiet.

“People are scared to leave their homes – but Italians have a community spirit and look after their families so I’m sure they’ll come through a terrible time.

“I’ve still got friends over in the Czech Republic from my time there as well and they say it’s getting crazy there too, with school closures and things like that.

“So you look at all that and wonder what will be next over here.”

Cennerazzo is also facing up to the same business challenges that will become almost universal as the virus spreads.

As managing director of Bellissimo Vino, which imports Italian wine to Scotland, he is already seeking to mitigate the damage being down by an entirely unavoidable global emergency.

SCARY

He adds: “It’s been a bit of a shock and opens your eyes to the realities of what is happening away from football.

“We are a small business and work really closely with suppliers in Italy. I’m in touch with the vineyards and the government, in terms of importing and exporting restrictions, and it might be a bit of a slower process now.

“We did stock up to avoid a shortage so are in a good place right now, but the concern is the predictions that this will get worse before it gets better.

“We also work with bars and restaurants and if, like other countries, they close then that could impact us. You do think ‘Oh my God, this is a scary situation’.”

 
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