Celtic and Rangers away fan lock-out set to end as JRG scrap red zones in stadiums

The door has opened for the return of away fans at Celtic and Rangers matches after Scottish football's Joint Response Group dropped the requirement for Covid-19 red zones within stadiums.

Covid-19 red zones will no longer be mandatory inside Scottish football stadiums .(Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)

Visiting supporters have been shut out from attending matches at Celtic Park and Ibrox this season due to the relocation of home supporters to areas of the ground normally reserved for away fans.

The stance of the Glasgow clubs has been heavily criticised and resulted in Hearts submitting a formal complaint to the SPFL ahead of their trip to Ibrox after the international break.

Sign up to our Football newsletter

Sign up to our Football newsletter

But the JRG has confirmed that red zones will no longer be mandatory and that clubs will be allowed to set out their own Covid-19 safety measures around away fans, hospitality areas, training grounds and travel based on their own risk assessments.

A statement read: "With the country’s vaccination programme now at an advanced stage, and citizens now familiar with the day-to-day baseline mitigation measures that remain in place (such as the mandatory use of face coverings in indoor public places and on public transport), the Joint Response Group believes it is now appropriate for clubs to make their own business decisions based on their own risk assessments.

"This is in part due to the success of the national vaccination programme, but also in recognition of the expertise and experience of clubs in complying with the government’s existing guidance.

"Now that vaccination rates have increased considerably in the age cohort of professional footballers, with mandatory distancing removed from indoor and outdoor events by Scottish Government, and with many clubs keen to remove Red Zones to facilitate the attendance of more home and away supporters, the JRG considers the subject of physical distancing to be an area for clubs to determine through their own risk assessment. The requirement to have a Red Zone will no longer be mandatory but the JRG protocols are still available to use, should clubs wish to continue to implement them."

The JRG confirm that it will also be left up to individual clubs whether they continue to enforce 2m social distancing, but home clubs must adhere to the requests of any away sides.

"Should any club wish to continue with 2m physical distancing measures on match days, this must be accommodated by the home clubs as per the existing protocols," the statement continued.

"Clubs are asked to discuss and agree match day arrangements as far in advance of the fixture as possible. Clubs who are currently testing should continue to do so and highlight any positive cases as normal.

"Clubs should also be aware that in the event of any outbreaks or spikes in positive cases, the JRG reserves the right to reintroduce physical distancing requirements. These changes can be implemented immediately, however clubs should discuss arrangements with upcoming opponents as soon as possible to agree requirements.

"The JRG will remain on-hand for any help and advice and trusts clubs to continue to take a responsible approach to adhering to football protocols and Scottish Government guidelines, especially in any relaxation of physical distancing."

Get a year of unlimited access to all The Scotsman's sport coverage without the need for a full subscription. Expert analysis of the biggest games, exclusive interviews, live blogs, transfer news and 70 per cent fewer ads on Scotsman.com - all for less than £1 a week. Subscribe to us today


Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.