Celtic v Rangers: Nicola Sturgeon urges Sky Sports to make Old Firm derby free-to-view
Sky Sports should make its broadcast of the old firm match between Celtic and Rangers free-to-view this weekend to prevent the further spread of coronavirus, Nicola Sturgeon has urged.
Speaking at a virtual session of First Minister’s Questions this afternoon, Ms Sturgeon also asked people not to watch the game in pubs or with people from other households.
She said she “would encourage Sky Sports this weekend to make the Rangers v Celtic match free for supporters, as a small but important contribution that they could make, helping keep people safe right now, enabling people to watch the much in the comfort and safety of their own home.”
Addressing football fans directly, Ms Sturgeon added: “Please don't travel elsewhere to watch it with other people - either in pubs outside of your own area - or in other people's homes,” she said, “because by doing that you're putting yourself at risk and you're putting other people at risk.”
Her warning comes as Scotland recorded 1,351 new cases of the virus in the last 24 hours, as well as 13 new deaths.
Yesterday the First Minister told Scots not to travel to Blackpool to watch the old firm derby in a pub either, citing the 180 cases of coronavirus in Scotland reported last month that were linked to the English seaside town.
This afternoon, Ms Sturgeon confirmed that the updated figure stood at 286 Scottish infections linked with Blackpool.
“Do not travel to Blackpool this weekend to watch the old firm match in a pub,” she warned, “If you do that, you will be putting yourselves, and you will be putting other people at risk.”
The warning prompted a popular Rangers pub in the town to announce its closure this weekend amid a surge in demand for bookings.
The Gallant Pioneer, close to Blackpool’s famous South Pier, said it would not open for Rangers fans to watch this weekend’s Old Firm match, despite management receiving more than 1,500 booking requests.
The pub’s management claimed Ms Sturgeon’s warning had had the opposite of its intended effect.
“We have the First Minister of Scotland advising everyone not to travel to Blackpool, which has led to another barrage of messages of people planning to do the exact opposite of what she has said.
“I am not exaggerating when I say we have had requests for over 1500 people for our wee pub since last week,” a post on the pub’s Facebook page told followers.
“With the new restrictions that people MUST be from the same household we feel it is impossible for us to police this weekend with so many strangers in groups coming to Blackpool,” the management explained.
“We have worked hard to have all measures in place and have complied with everything that has been asked of us since re-opening on 4th July,” they added, “but feel it’s just not worth the putting the business at risk for us after the year we have had.”
Today, the SNP’s Westminster leader refused to rule out a ban on non-essential travel to Scotland from coronavirus hotspots elsewhere in the UK.
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