Scottish Government fan return update leaves Celtic with more questions than answers

By David Walton

July 13, 2021

The Scottish Government today officially covered the topic of fans returning to stadia today, but it still left Celtic with more questions than it did answers.

It had been reported last night that the Hoops were set for a decision this afternoon on how many fans could attend next week’s Champions League qualifier against Midtjylland [Daily Record]. This came ahead of Nicola Sturgeon’s update to the Scottish Parliament regarding moving into level 0.

In recent weeks, Celtic fans have watched 12,000 Scotland supporters flood into Hampden. They’ve also seen 60,000 arrive at Wembley for the Euro 2020 final down in England. Not to mention the full capacity at Wimbledon on Sunday.

Whilst Scotland will continue to move at a different pace, there was hope this afternoon’s update would clarify things for next week. However, speaking about a return to stadia, Sturgeon said the following as quoted by the Scottish Sun:

“While we are lifting some of the attendance restrictions around events – we are not taking an upper limit off, we are still being cautious. Any events organiser wanting to have a bigger event – such as we saw in the Euros recently – will have to go through a process of application so all that the mitigations can be properly assessed.

“Yes we want to get back to normal but we must do that in way that is proportional. I am not prepared to shrug my shoulders and say it doesn’t matter that young people get infected by this virus because we don’t yet understand what the long-term implications of it are.

“That necessitates the cautious pathway we are taking – which no doubt will criticise us for it because it is not me standing here and crying freedom day any time soon.”

Scottish Government still to outline how many fans Celtic can have next week

So the number of fans allowed in at face value is 2,000. The same amount Celtic will invite to Parkhead for Saturday’s friendly against Preston North End. That does nothing for the Hoops, who will surely want more in for Midtjylland.

However, the Scottish Government have continued to keep the cards close to the chest here. They haven’t outlined what their maximum number would be for spectators for clubs who decide to go through the process.

Nor have they explained what the exact process will involve. Celtic will want a lot more than 2,000 in for the UEFA Champions League qualifier. When you see 60,000 diving into a 90,000-seater down in London, it makes you wonder.

Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images

There’s also just the tone of this. There was such a push from government to get fans into Hampden for the Euros. This was after a full season of clubs crying out for fans to be allowed back through the gates. Now, clubs are made to feel as though they’re being inconvenient and disruptive to the roadmap.

There also isn’t any clarity on how these numbers will change again from August 9th – the date set to remove all major Covid restrictions. It all feels very bare minimum, with not much in the way of hope given to clubs about the long-term.

Clubs like Celtic and Rangers will want to consistently have plenty of bums on seats that go way beyond the government’s 2,000 limit. Does this mean the “process” must continuously be retaken for every home match? Everything still just feels a bit hazy on what was supposed to be a day of clarity.

In other news: BOLI Bolingoli could make his controversial return to Celtic action tomorrow