Supporters won’t be attending sport ‘any time soon’

Scottish football chiefs set up sub-groups to make sure games restart at the 'appropriate time'.

People should not expect sport to be held in front of supporters “any time soon”, the First Minister has said.

Nicola Sturgeon said she was not in a position to provide dates on when sport might resume in Scotland.

All football and rugby in the country was postponed on March 13, while the SPFL has since ended the seasons of the Championship, League One and League Two.

The SPFL previously announced a suspension will be in place until at least June 10 and a timescale for return has not been identified by the Scottish Government.

“I’m not yet in a position to give you dates on when things will start again and in what order that we might see things start to go back to normal,” Sturgeon said.

“But I would absolutely say that people should not be under the expectation that large scale mass gatherings will be starting any time soon, because we must make sure that we are doing everything we can to continue to suppress this virus.”

She said a capability to test, trace and isolate must be in place to replace restrictions, when they are lifted, and stressed “some form of social distancing is going to be required” until a vaccine is available.

“It would be wrong for me to give false expectation right now about an early resumption of football matches or rugby matches or large scale sporting events like that.”

On the topic of matches being played behind closed doors, Sturgeon said there were “issues” because it does not necessarily take away the risk of big events.

She added: “If a match is being played behind closed doors but it’s still on television the danger is then people will still congregate together in groups to watch that. These things all have to be very carefully considered.”

Scottish football’s coronavirus response group has since set up a number of sub-groups – each chaired by existing members – to make sure the sport is ready to return at “the appropriate time”.

These include groups relating to medical advice, supporter welfare, club operations, broadcasting and regulation.

Rod Petrie, Scottish FA president and chair of the response group, said: “We want to make sure that we continue to support the nationwide effort to overcome Covid-19 but we also need to start planning for the restart of the game, at the right time and with the health and safety of paramount importance.”

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