Report: SPFL considering radical plan for Celtic and Premiership clubs amid restrictions

By Euan Davidson

January 5, 2022

Celtic and Scottish Premiership clubs could see games being played outside of Scotland for the first time ever, according to a report in the Scottish Sun.

With SPFL clubs including Celtic eagerly awaiting news on crowd restrictions, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon offered no assurances of crowds returning to normal levels after the 17th of January.

That’s caused Scottish Rugby authorities to consider moving Six Nations matches to England. And, according to the Scottish Sun, Scottish footballing authorities are thinking along similar lines. The report states that the idea has been “floated” in footballing circles.

Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images

Of course, there’s never been a Scottish top-flight game played outside of Scotland. Celtic and Dundee were in talks to play in the USA, back in 2015 [BBC]. However, it didn’t happen. Other leagues, including Serie A and La Liga, have held Super Cup and League Cup competitions in the United Arab Emirates [Sun].

Such a premise would need to be agreed by both the SPFL and the SFA. With so little time to plan ahead, it’d be a significant shock were this to happen.

However, it’s reportedly being considered by Scottish Premiership clubs. The next few weeks could be very interesting indeed.

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Celtic, Scottish Premiership clubs taking to England? There’d be a few big problems to solve

A few problems with this, obviously; given the Omicron variant’s spread across the UK, it’d surely be difficult to negotiate sizeable crowds going cross-border. That’d surely be the first issue.

Secondly, which clubs would give their stadia away for a day? How would ticketing be arranged? What about the sale of alcohol in grounds, something that’s banned in Scotland?

The demands on the English Premier League and EFL’s schedule are full enough. It’s hard to imagine Celtic and the rest of the Scottish Premiership could just hire a St James’ Park, or Riverside on a whim. These kinds of things require a tremendous amount of planning.

Photo by David Goddard/Getty Images

That, and it’d be a bad look diplomatically. The schism between the Scottish Government and the SFA would surely be sizeable if such a move were to take place. During the last lockdown, financial assistance was given to SPFL clubs. If the top flight upped sticks for a crowd in northern England, would the Government be so forthcoming with support?

It seems unlikely, but it’s something that is reportedly being mooted. Celtic have a significant support in England, and it’d be an exciting opportunity in a couple of ways.

But would Holyrood allow it, and would English clubs be so accommodating? It’s hard to see this happening.

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