Celtic v Rangers and Hibs v Hearts crowd fears as Nicola Sturgeon refuses to rule out stadium closures

Nicola Sturgeon has warned that football stadiums could be closed to fans amid a "tsunami" of Covid cases as a result of the Omicron variant.

Celtic and Rangers fans are due to attend a sold-out Celtic Park for the Old Firm fixture on January 2.
Celtic and Rangers fans are due to attend a sold-out Celtic Park for the Old Firm fixture on January 2.

Scottish clubs suffered significant financial losses last season due to crowd restrictions, but after a phased return of spectators at the start of the current campaign, full capacity numbers have been welcomed back since August.

At her daily Covid briefing, the First Minister refused to rule out the possibility of reimposing restrictions on football attendances when asked how the spread of the new variant could impact Scottish football.

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This will be of concern to all clubs, in particular Celtic and Hibs who are due to host capacity crowds for the biggest two derby fixtures in Scotland over the festive period, with Rangers due to visit Celtic Park on January 2 and Easter Road set to welcome Hearts on January 3.

While insisting that further restrictions in general are a "last resort", Sturgeon said: "I'm not going to tell you what Cabinet might consider on Tuesday because I don't know yet.

"This will depend on the continuing analysis of the data.

"I'm really, really mindful that two years in if we're asking the public to do anything else then is it the right thing? Is it likely to have the biggest impact?

"That means thinking very carefully and not just coming out with things because we can.

"There's a doubling time [of Omicron cases] of two days. Tuesday is a long time away and we'll be monitoring the data every day between now and then."

As of 5pm yesterday, there were 110 cases of the Omicron variant compared to just nine cases 10 days ago.

Sturgeon also announced that in the last 24 hours 5,018 coronavirus cases had been recorded, which is significantly higher than the average number of daily cases, around the 2,800 mark, recorded as of late.

Speaking at Bute House, Sturgeon added: "To be blunt because of the much greater and faster transmissibility of this new variant we may be facing, indeed we may be starting to experience, a potential tsunami of infections.

"We in the Scottish Government will be considering our next steps very carefully - but also mindful of the need to act quickly. We will be discussing matters on a 4 nations basis too.”

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