Scotland’s World Cup qualifying opponents Austria are considering a request to have the opening group game moved away from Hampden Park.
Steve Clarke’s side are due to play host to the Austrians on March 25 to begin the new campaign, with and away match against Israel and ameeting with Faroe Islands in Glasgow completing a triple-header of international fixtures.
Clarke will announce his Scotland squad this week but Austria’s selection process is in turmoil with call-ups for their German Bundesliga players looking impossible.
The most recent Austria squad had 18 German-based players but current covid-19 regulations mean that anyone returning to Germany from the UK would have to quarantine for 14 days.
That rule does not have an exception for elite sportsmen and women so Bundesliga clubs are entitled to refuse call-ups for their players. Different authorities in each of the seven German government regions adds another level of difficulty for the Austrian FA.
Austria could be left with the decision between sending a weakened, domestic-based squad to face Scotland at Hampden, or requesting that the game be played at a venue outside the UK.
A move would open up the question of whether the match would still be counted as Scotland’s home game. The Austrian media quotes their FA managing director Bernhard Neuhold as saying earlier this week that a switch is “a theoretical possibility”.
Making this month’s game the Austrian home match would “mean an economic disadvantage”, according to Neuhold, since the scheduled date of September 7 for the match in Vienna would almost certainly be played in front of a significant number of paying fans.
Austria would have to make a formal request in the coming days, with UEFA expected to finalise the venue this week.
The Scottish FA is continuing with its preparations to play the game as scheduled at Hampden.
UEFA have already made venue changes for internationals because of Covid, with Nowray v Turkey being moved to a Spanish stadium and Portugal v Azerbaijan now taking place in Turin. However, those moves were made because of restrictions on either the host nation or the visiting side directly, and not because of complications involving a third country where some players are based.
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