MORTON skipper Jim McAlister says the whole squad is hugely relieved after seeing the club extend their contracts under the coronavirus job retention scheme.

Cappielow bosses have retained their out-of-contract players until the end of July by utilising the UK Government's furlough wage payment scheme.

With the SPFL now moving to finalise a fixture list after a 27 game Championship season and October start was agreed, McAlister hopes that a sense of stability will return at last.

He said: “The decision to extend the furlough has given all of us a bit of peace of mind until the end of July at least.

“It was the right decision.

"We are grateful for the club extending the scheme and sticking by us in times like this.

“The club have said that they’ll come back to us and get in touch in mid-July about what’s happening with contracts and training.

"It also means that the gaffer can start to plan ahead in terms of putting a squad together for next season and trying to sign boys up.

“It gives us something to work towards."

Morton have had no gate revenue since March and season 2020-21 matches will initially be played behind closed doors, with fans asked to sign up to watch games online instead.

The captain hopes that the club's use of the furlough scheme for a full third of the year, plus a shorter season and contracts, will mean that the financial hit can be absorbed without too much of an impact.

He told the Tele: “Hopefully budget-wise things won't be hampered too much with what has gone on, and with a shorter season next year there would be no reason to cut the budget.

“Effectively you’re paying players for a lesser period of time than you normally would, so I just hope that the impact isn’t as great as first feared.

“I think that there is a great opportunity for clubs next season in our league to have a wee go.

“It [extending furlough] was a no brainer because it keeps the majority of the squad together and gives the club a bit of time to plan ahead and get a structure in place.

“Hopefully they can start to look at giving us a date of getting back in and training."

McAlister has begun to get back into the swing of things as he gradually steps up his fitness regime ahead of the return to action.

He said: “I’m ticking over but once we get a definite date as to when we can start back that’s when the intensity of the running and training at home will ramp up.

“It’s all about keeping the miles in the legs and keeping them strong.

"We don’t want to keep hammering it and peaking too early before we go back in and try to get up to match fitness.

“Things will hopefully start moving quickly now and we’ll start to see a bit of light at the end of the tunnel.”