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Fans could be in sports stadiums from September 14

The FM said some sports may see supporters in attendance at an earlier date, subject to government approval.

Fans are set to return to sports stadiums from September 14.

The indicative date for a limited number of supporters to attend sporting events was confirmed as part of the Scottish Government’s latest easing of lockdown restrictions.

Speaking at First Minister’s Questions, Nicola Sturgeon said test events with spectators may be held before then.

The last high-profile sporting event held with crowds in Scotland was Rangers v Bayer Leverkusen in the Europa League on March 12.

The First Minister said: “We hope from September 14 sports stadia will be able to open but only with a strict number of spectators and strict physical distancing in place.

“Some professional sports events might be arranged for spectators to attend have before then, with Scottish Government agreement to test the safety of any new arrangements.”

This season’s Premiership campaign has begun with teams competing against the backdrop of an empty stadium.

All three of football’s lower leagues are due to return on October 17, with the season reduced to a shorter 27-game term.

Rugby’s Pro14 tournament returns this weekend after six months off as Glasgow and Edinburgh play the first of two derby fixtures at Murrayfield.

The First Minister stressed the return dates for supporters are only indicative as cases of coronavirus rise once again in Scotland.

Celtic winger James Forrest welcomed the news.

“It’s really promising,” he said. “Everyone wants the fans there.

“It’s been difficult for everyone adapting to being without the fans just now.

“We just need a few more weeks’ push and then we can get the fans back, which is what everyone in football wants.

“When we were in France for pre-season games then just a few thousand fans made a difference. Home and away a slight atmosphere will be beneficial for all the players.”

St Mirren manager Jim Goodwin said: “It is fantastic news. No doubt that everyone in football will welcome that statement from the First Minister.

“Hopefully everything goes according to plan between now and then and that gives us all something to look forward to. The supporters are a huge part of our game and we need that atmosphere both home and away.

“We are absolutely delighted that they have September 14 to look forward to.

“There hasn’t been a positive as far as I am concerned. The opening day of the season is always a big one on the calendar.

“We would have loved to come out to a near full house against Livingston on the opening day.

“It is not the same without them, it is as simple as that. Forget the financial aspect of it all, just from a product in terms of the game being live on the television and broadcast all over the world, we want to get our passionate supporters back into the stadium as soon as possible.

“Whatever percentage that is in September, I am not sure of the number yet but if everything goes according to plan in September, October, December, hopefully come January we will be looking at getting back to somewhere near full capacity.”