Return of fans to Scottish sports stadiums delayed until at least 5 October

Return of fans to Scottish sports stadiums delayed until at least 5 October
Edinburgh v Glasgow at Murrayfield was the first Scottish sporting event with fans since lockdown
Edinburgh v Glasgow at Murrayfield was the first Scottish sporting event with fans since lockdown

The return of fans to Scottish sports stadiums has been delayed until 5 October at the earliest, first minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced.

But two Scottish Premiership test events – Aberdeen v Kilmarnock and Ross County against Celtic – will go ahead on Saturday as planned.

Further possible pilots will be judged on a “case to case basis”.

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Up to 300 supporters will be in attendance at both Pittodrie and the Global Energy Stadium on Saturday, the first time supporters have attended Scottish football matches since March.

Last month’s Pro14 meeting of Edinburgh and Glasgow Warriors, which saw 700 spectators at Murrayfield, is the only Scottish sport pilot event held so far.

But the prospect of welcoming back larger crowds this month is now over, with the average daily rate of coronavirus cases in the week up to yesterday having risen to 55, from just 14 six weeks ago.

Sturgeon confirmed Scotland is likely to remain in phase three of lockdown restrictions “for some time yet”.

“The pandemic is at this stage accelerating again – albeit, and thankfully, from a low base and not as rapidly as it was back in March and April,” said the first minister.

“We have concluded that these changes must be paused for a further three weeks. The new indicative date for their resumption is Monday 5 October.

“However, I must stress that this remains an indicative date – a final decision can only be taken nearer the time.”

‘We all want to get back to normal’

Celtic previously had hopes of a trial event against Motherwell dashed, but are in line to play in front of around 300 fans in Dingwall this weekend.

“It’ll just be good having fans back in,” said captain Scott Brown. “It’s crucial we get them back into stadiums and playing in front of them again but this is a little test for us and here’s hoping it works well.

“You want to play in front of 60,000 fans and we’ve missed that. It’s hard for us to say no if we’re walking about the street and [fans are] asking for a photo or a chat. But we want things to get back to normal, everybody does, and we need to make sure we’re all doing our bit.”

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