Scottish football turnstiles to click again after green light for some fans in May

Scottish football is preparing to hear the click of turnstiles again with a limited number of fans set to be allowed back from 17 May.

It seems a long time since a limited number of fans were permitted to attend two Scottish Premiership games on the weekend of 8th and 9th September.

It was hailed as a significant step when 300 Aberdeen season ticket holders and 300 Ross County supporters watched their team play against Kilmarnock and Celtic respectively.

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Both test events were considered successes but subsequent applications from Aberdeen to host fans at games against Motherwell and Celtic were rejected amid rising Covid-19 rates of transmission. Elgin City were given permission for 150 fans at their game v Cowdenbeath in November. It’s been back to closed doors football since then as the pandemic took a grip once more.

Aberdeen fans applaud during the Scottish Premiership match between Aberdeen and Kilmarnock at Pittodrie in September last year. Picture: Ross MacDonald/SNS Group

As per the recent Scottish government announcement, it is hoped most, if not all, Scottish council areas will be able to move from level three to level two next month. It means at least 500 football fans should be able to see their team get promotion – or be relegated – in person next month.

The first leg of the Premiership play-off final, when one of Raith Rovers, Dundee Dunfermline or Inverness Caledonian Thistle take on the 11th placed team in the top-flight,

is scheduled for 19 May, with the second leg taking place four days later.

The second legs of the Championship and League One play-off finals will also take place after further lockdown easing which means they too could have fans present.

All clubs with the potential to be involved are having to make provisional plans.

“Without being presumptuous, we are actively looking at that.," said Jim Thomson, general manager at Dundee. We are limited under the recently published guidelines to 500 – it is not a lot."

It's possible clubs could consult with their local council authority to increase this figure nearer the time.

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Everyone has to. It will probably end up costing us more than we are bringing in. Having looked at it, there will be a significant staff resource required.”

Dundee have already identified which stand to use. “The Bobby Cox stand is the obvious one, it is so much easier to manage. It is modern and open and has good facilities, so we will probably use that one if we get there.”

The second leg of the Premiership play-off final is a day after the Scottish Cup final, which is scheduled to take place at Hampden – although the venue remains under discussion given supporters could now attend.

The stadium will be in events-mode and under the control of Uefa, who begin preparations ahead of Hampden hosting four Euro 2020 games next month.

Moving the Scottish cup final from Hampden remains an option – if a suitable alternative ground can be found. “It is being actively looked at,” said a source. Staging the game at Celtic Park is one possibility, with Celtic having already been knocked out of the competition.

June 14, when Scotland kick-off their first major finals campaign since 1998 against Czech Republic at Hampden, will be when it really feels like fans are back.

Uefa are currently dealing with ticket returns from fans unable to travel and will hold a ballot to decide which ticket holders can attend to get down to the 12,000 number the Scottish Government has permitted. The games – Scotland also face Croatia at home - were originally meant to be played last summer.

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Uefa sell the tickets rather than the Scottish Football Association so it is not yet clear how many Scotland fans will be among the 12,000.

It remains to be seen whether there will be travel restrictions placed on Scotland supporters planning to attend the clash with England at Wembley on 18 June, when it is hoped at least 22,500 fans will be allowed inside the 90,000 capacity stadium.

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