Jason Leitch provides update as Celtic Park fan return nears

By David Walton

April 25, 2021

Scotland’s National Clinical Director, Jason Leitch, believes fans will be able to return to Celtic Park for next season as he eyes a gradual return.

Leitch believes all adults in Scotland will have been vaccinated by the end of July. That will open up the prospect of potentially substantial fan returns once again after a season of being locked out of grounds.

England have already put test events in place. Today’s Carabao Cup final between Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur will host 8,000 fans at Wembley [talkSPORT]. Scotland’s Euro 2020 matches at Hampden this summer will also see as many as 12,000 fans be allowed into the stadium [BBC].

And Leitch believes that will provide a pathway for fans to return regularly for the start of next season. He did, however, sound pessemistic at the prospect of full stadia anytime soon.

Speaking on BBC’s Off the Ball programme [BBC Radio Scotland, 24/04, 12:15] , Leitch said: “I think with vaccinations going the way it’s going, and supplies allow us, we’ll have vaccinated all adults by the end of July.

“So just in time for the season to begin, I think we will have some people inside stadia. I don’t think they will be full yet as we aren’t sure what vaccination does to numbers in the real world.

“And hopefully through the season those numbers will go up.”

Jason Leitch comments promising; Celtic Park looks set to welcome fans back sooner rather than later

There is of course the elephant in the room at the minute – that being what the vaccination actually does. How effective it proves to be once normality fully returns to Scotland and the United Kingdom.

In addition to that, we also have the prospect of potential variants arriving from other countries. It’s unclear whether the vaccination we’re all provided will combat these variants effectively. Therefore, it does to an extent make it extremely difficult for the Scottish Government to predict the next steps.

But it’s clear what the plan is. The Euros are almost like Scotland’s own test event. Granted, it remains to be seen if the SFA are able to bring supporters in for the Scottish Cup final next month. If that got the go-ahead, it would be another potential boost.

An empty Celtic Park / (Photo by Andrew Milligan/Pool via Getty Images)

Given, however, that Hampden is being allowed to host 12,000 fans this summer, that bodes well for Celtic Park. Parkhead has an official capacity of 60,411. That’s nearly 10,000 more than Hampden. That means there’s wiggle room to let a couple more thousand in the Parkhead gates if you compare it to the national stadium.

And it’s important to remember that the 12,000 Hampden capacity is something the Scottish Government pushed. For the first time this season they’ve shown an urge to get fans in the door (funny that). Hopefully, that same urge is shown for the start of the 2021/22 season.

A gradual increase of supporters throughout the next campaign looks likely, as Leitch says. But in terms of capacity grounds? That looks like something we’ll only see regularly for the 2022/23 campaign if we’re all being honest with ourselves.

In other news, Jesse Marsch has talked up the Leipzig job in an eerily similar manner to his Celtic comments.