We want to be part of a crowd - but the Euro 2020 Fan Zone could be game over for our recovery

It was no surprise when tickets for the Euro 2020 fanzone on Glasgow Green sold out in seconds. The promise of a family-friendly, festival-like celebration of football sounds just the tonic after the horrors of the last year.

The Fan Zone for EURO 2020 is being built in Glasgow Green as preparations are ramped up ahead of kick off. A giant tv screen is installed for fans.
The Fan Zone for EURO 2020 is being built in Glasgow Green as preparations are ramped up ahead of kick off. A giant tv screen is installed for fans.

Football fans are like the rest of the population: desperate to return to normality. We want to be part of a crowd, to join in communal celebration - we hope - of a Scotland campaign to remember.

But the nightmare of the last year has not let us go. Scotland endured the longest, harshest lockdown of any of the four home nations. Glasgow suffered even more than the rest of the country, only starting to emerge from eight months of level three lockdown last weekend.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The restriction of normal life has come at enormous cost to people and businesses, not least those in hospitality. That sector's frustration at the fanzone plans is both palpable, and easily understood: an obvious point is that the fanzones will take trade away from their newly-reopened pubs.

But hospitality also has cause to look ahead. It paid a heavy price for restrictions, and will face potentially ruinous cost should further restrictions be needed later in the year. The Scottish Government seems curiously deaf to their concerns that the venue, open daily through Euro 2020, could accelerate the spread of Covid and lead us to another, devastating lockdown.

The prospect of the fanzone also raises deeper questions about the credibility of the public health messages we have had to accept over the last year.

Glasgow's citizens were told they could not so much as visit a friend's house for a cup of tea, for eight months. That restriction was only relaxed last Saturday. Yet from Friday they are being told it is perfectly safe to take a place alongside 3,000 other people, beer in hand, to watch the Euros on big screens.

That sudden change of policy implies either the enormously damaging restrictions were heavy-handed, or the relaxation is premature. Either conclusion would be worrying.

So the Scottish Government should move, quickly, to cancel the fanzones, not because it wants to keep Scotland locked down, but because it is desperate to avoid the heavy economic and human cost of another, heavier, curtailment of our liberties.

A message from the Editor:Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by Coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.