Jason Leitch: No 'secret plan' to close Scottish football stadiums - but no assurances either

Jason Leitch has insisted there is 'no secret plan' to close football stadiums in Scotland amid a surge in Covid cases caused by the Omicron variant.

Jason Leitch says more time is needed to assess whether Scottish football stadiums will need to close.
Jason Leitch says more time is needed to assess whether Scottish football stadiums will need to close.

Scotland's national clinical director admitted, however, that he cannot give any assurances over the possibility of closed doors matches in the near future as he reiterated the advice issued by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon for football fans to take extra precautions ahead of attending fixtures over the festive period.

There is particular concern surrounding the two 50,000 crowds expected to descend on Ibrox and Hampden this weekend for the Rangers v Dundee United league fixture on Saturday and Celtic v Hibs in the Premier Sports Cup final on Sunday.

There is also the prospect of fixture postponements with Dundee United, St Mirren and Dundee all recording positive Covid cases this week.

Speaking on BBC Scotland's Off the Ball, Leitch said: "Let's do the good news first. The SPFL and clubs over the last 48 hours have been excellent.

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"Their communication has been really good with fans. I've just looked up the website of Hibs to look at what they were suggesting to fans and it's excellent. It's all about testing before you go, make sure you follow the rules, be careful as much as you can.

"Those games, as of now, are going ahead, but we're asking people to be as careful as you can. If you have any symptoms or think you might be ill, do not go. Don't go on the transportation, don't go in the pub, don't meet your pals., If you choose to go then be careful. Try to avoid crowded public transport, and I understand that's not easy. We've also spoken to Scotrail and bus owners and we've tried to put on as much transportation as we can to try to keep them less crowded.

"If you could travel earlier, wait until later - things like that would really help us to space out the crowds, and make sure you do a lateral flow test before you turn up. Stopping the virus getting into the bus is the most important thing you could do."

Responding to a question over whether Scottish football will continue with crowds or revert to behind closed doors in January, Leitch added: "I honestly don't know.

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"We need more time to be able to give that advice to the First Minister. If we're stopping that kind of large event we'll have had to think very carefully across the whole of society in stopping other things.

"It's not so much inside McDiarmid Park that particularly worries us. It's the travel to and from, it's the pubs outside, it's all the stuff around sport, whether it's a hockey, football or rugby game. It's all the peripheral stuff that brings people together in an environment where this virus enjoys transmission advantage.

"There isn't a secret plan. There isn't a drawer with an ala carte menu on it that the First Minister is going to announce immediately. We talk every single day about what the data is doing, what we're seeing internationally, what the protection might need to be going forward, complicated by the fact we've got Christmas a week today.

“We’re not immune to thinking about what that might mean.”

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