Using Murrayfield as hub for sports ‘an excellent idea’

Scotland's national clinical director believes the stadium has a number of advantages in the era of social distancing.

Using BT Murrayfield for a number of sports makes perfect sense to Scotland’s national clinical director Jason Leitch.

Leitch believes some grounds could be up to a quarter full when crowds are initially allowed back into sports events.

The Scottish Rugby Union has held talks with the likes of Hearts and Hibernian over using its home when football returns from the coronavirus lockdown.

Although the Scottish Premiership season is likely to start behind closed doors, it is hoped partial crowds could be allowed towards the end of the year.

With Murrayfield capable of holding 67,000 fans under normal circumstances, Professor Leitch believes it has a number of advantages in the era of social distancing.

When asked how that would work in stadia, Professor Leitch told BBC Radio Scotland’s Off The Ball: “There isn’t an exact formula but what you are looking at is probably an empty two between everybody, and a couple of empty seats between people from different households. But if you go as a family of four you can sit together.

“I am thinking probably a fifth to a sixth of that stadium, maybe a quarter. Murrayfield have done this, I have seen the chart, they have done what two metres means.

“The good thing about Murrayfield is, it’s big, it’s accesses are big, and you don’t go indoors to get to your seat. Hampden is not dissimilar but Murrayfield is slightly more isolated and on bigger acreage.

“In the conversation we had with football and rugby, they were both on the same call, there was a lot of chat about whether Murrayfield could be a bubble that could host quite a lot of this – behind closed doors first of all, some training and then in the fullness of time have crowds. I think it’s an excellent idea. It makes perfect sense.”

Meanwhile, Professor Leitch stressed that football teams will not have any special privileges when they return to training next week.

The Scottish Football Association has partially lifted the suspension of all football activity from June 11 for Premiership first-team squads only.

Celtic manager Neil Lennon this week outlined plans for players to train in groups of five when they return on Thursday.

But Prof Leitch said: “There is no special privileges for elite sport in phase one. The only thing they are allowed to do is the same as the rest of us.

“You can have two households meeting up outdoors. If you want to use up your household allocation as a coach and a player, that can work, or two players, that can work. They have got to physically distance, they have got to wash their hands and all the other things, they can’t go indoors.

“Until phase two – and the next review is June 18, we don’t know if it will start then – they are only allowed to do what’s in phase one.”

Prof Leitch reiterated that plans for an August 1 Premiership kick-off can only be provisional.

“This virus works in three-week chunks roughly,” he added. “On average it takes a week to get sick, you’re sick for a week and then you’re really sick for a week if you are going to deteriorate. And unfortunately people are still dying of this disease.

“We don’t know what last week’s phase one does for about two weeks and really about three weeks.

“That’s why the compulsory legal review period is at three-week periods. It’s really important we don’t go too quick.”

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