Soccer sans fans as COVID clobbers Scotland


Scotland Aberdeen test events rejected Image: Aberdeen FC

With Scotland in the fatal grip of COVID-19 again, the Scottish professional football club Aberdeen FC’s proposal to stage a second pilot event in its clash against its counterpart Celtic FC on October 25th, 2020, was nixed by the Scottish Government.

Scottish football fans are waiting for clubs and Government to deliver a “real plan” for the return of crowds, stated Aberdeen Chairman Dave Cormack.

Cormack also stated that the proposal to allow 1,000 supporters into Aberdeen FC’s home facility – Pittodrie Stadium – on October 25th had been rejected.

The Dons’ were one of two clubs to host a test event last month, but further pilots were put on hold due to coronavirus surge in Scotland.

Taking to social media, Cormack said the suggested test event was backed by Aberdeen City Council, but had received a “polite no” from the Scottish Government.

He also stated that no positive test for coronavirus had been linked to the 300 supporters who attended the Dons’ 1-0 win over Scottish professional football team Kilmarnock FC in September.

Aberdeen FC Manager Derek McInnes says the consequences for football will be “drastic” if the game cannot get fans back in soon, speaking strictly in terms of finances and safeguarding jobs.

McInnes added, “The situation nationwide is really challenging, we understand there has to be a balance. We know that people are being asked to be mindful of their movements but we have complete confidence we can provide a safe environment. We’re confident we can guarantee that safety in an outdoor space. I’ve got to safeguard the team, the Chairman is just safeguarding the club. But we understand and respect the conditions in the country as a whole.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson maintained, “We recognize this has been an enormously challenging time for football and other spectator sports and we appreciate the support of supporters, clubs and authorities over recent months to help us tackle the virus. We are working in partnership with the football authorities and clubs to ensure the necessary public health measures are in place to open up grounds to a limited numbers of supporters once it is safe to do so.”

“However – with rising cases – there is no immediate prospect of supporters returning because, as the first minister has said, the virus has not gone away and we all need to keep working to protect the National Health Service (NHS) and public services, and help keep people safe,” the spokesperson added.

Aberdeen was sure that their recent pilot event would be given the green light by the Scottish Government as few events held in the month of September proved to be a resounding success in terms of COVID-19 protocol and there was a growing belief that doors across the country would soon open to a larger amount of paying customers.

However, with COVID-19 back wreaking havoc in Europe and the United Kingdom again in the vice-like grip of coronavirus, plans for an October opening of doors were subsequently slammed shut and the past few weeks have seen empty stadia on both sides of the border.

The Scottish Government’s ‘thanks, but no thanks stance’ has not only left ‘The Dons’ tearing their hair apart in frustration, but also the other 41 clubs who operate within the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) set-up and with no sign of any shift in stance from First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, it almost seems that the death knell has been sounded.

The Scottish Professional Football League is the national men’s association football league in Scotland. The league was formed in June 2013 following a merger between the Scottish Premier League and the Scottish Football League.

If Dave McCormack’s proposal would have got the green light, it would have translated to just 5 percent of Aberdeen’s Pittodrie ground being made available to supporters and although it does not sound a lot, nevertheless, going by the current coronavirus climate, allowing 5 percent capacity also seems a risky proposition.

As coronavirus has again stung back with full force in Europe, McCormack and his counterparts within Scotland are now asking the powers that be what plans they have in mind to either bring fans back into venue or provide SPFL with financial bailout.

However, for now, the writing is on the wall, football in Scotland will have to make do with empty stadia for an uncomfortable amount of time.

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