Nicola Sturgeon set to put brakes on the return of fans to football

Pilot events likely go ahead but general target date of 14 September to be revised

Wednesday, 9th September 2020, 10:03 pm
Updated Wednesday, 9th September 2020, 10:51 pm
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

Hopes that football grounds could be opened to fans from next week look set to be dashed when Nicola Sturgeon addresses the Scottish Parliament on Thursday.

The First Minster had said last month that supporters might be able to return to stadiums from 14 September, with restricted numbers and physical distancing measures in place.

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However, Sturgeon said on Wednesday that Scotland is in a “very dangerous place” amid warnings of a potential second lockdown as coronavirus cases continue to rise across the country.

Two pilot events with fans are scheduled to take place this weekend and they are expected go ahead as planned.

Aberdeen’s home match against Kilmarnock and Ross County’s hosting of Celtic will both take place on Saturday, with 300 homes fans at each. But hopes that Aberdeen could then have up to 750 fans at their next home game against Motherwell on 20 September look unlikely to be approved.

Asked about the likelihood of a general return of fans to stadiums, Sturgeon said on Wednesday: “I’m not going to pre-empt the announcement I’m going to make to Parliament tomorrow but I’ve said a few times this week that you know, I have used terms like putting the brakes on, perhaps not going ahead with things we had hoped to go ahead with given the evidence we are seeing right now.

“People can draw a direction of travel from that but in terms of the detail I am duty bound to set that out to parliament tomorrow.

“On the test events, we are thinking very carefully about all of this, we decided some weeks ago and this makes sense and is important before having, and a few weeks ago we might have hoped this would have been sooner rather than it might turn out to be, to have spectators back in stadium, we thought it would be sensible to test the protections and the public health arrangements.

“Clearly we are in a changing situation right now and I think certainly in future we may be a bit more mindful about things like while the numbers are looking like they are.”

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