Fans group share concerns over vaccine passports with Scottish football fans split on proposal

A football supporters group has expressed concerns over plans to introduce ‘vaccine passports’ applicable to large venues – including football stadia.

Aberdeen fans could be among the first affected if the rule change is passed. (Photo by Mark Scates / SNS Group)
Aberdeen fans could be among the first affected if the rule change is passed. (Photo by Mark Scates / SNS Group)

Grounds including Ibrox, Celtic Park, Tynecastle and Easter Road, as well as Murrayfield and Hampden would be affected by the plans for proof of vaccination to join crowds exceeding 10,000 people.

Supporters have been polled on the idea by one fans group in Scotland while another, Supporters Direct Scotland, have raised concerns over the implementation which could rule fans out of attending future games and sports events.

Chief executive of SDS Allan Russell said he was “concerned about inequalities”.

Hearts fans during a cinch Premiership match between Hearts and Celtic at Tynecastle Park , on July 31, 2021, in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

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"There are differences in levels of vaccination in different sections of society and football support,” he added.

"If this is part of keeping football accessible to almost everybody, then it's a pragmatic and largely positive step - but we do worry about those inequalities. To have people prevented from attending football, or having to get a vaccination they're not comfortable with, or don't know how it's going to interact with other medications they're on, is a pretty difficult situation."

Neil Doncaster, the SPFL chief executive reacted with surprise when the plan first came to light and warned of it’s effect on football and while the grounds regularly affected will number in single digits, Mr Russell warned one fan being excluded under vaccination status is concerning.

He added: "Vaccination levels are pretty high in Scotland so we think it's going to be a very small number of people who are excluded for those reasons. But even if that's one, then it's a concern."

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Tynecastle could be the first ground in Scotland to host a game with more than 10,000 in October. (Photo by Mark Scates / SNS Group)

Supporters polled by the Scottish football supporters association were split on the proposal in a snap survey by the group with 51.6 % of fans in favour of a ‘passport’ if it allows them to access football with 43.3% were against.

More said they would feel safer attending a fixture if all fans were vaccinated against 20% who disagreed 20% uncertain.An overwhelming majority also said costs of implementing the scheme should be met by the Government.

Stuart Murphy CEO of the SFSA said: “We believed that it was important to ask football supporters about this important issue to ensure that their voices were heard before this matter is debated in Parliament.

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"This is without doubt a challenging and complex set of circumstances where public health and well-being of our citizens is to the forefront of discussions. We believe any issue of national importance to our game should allow for engagement with its key stakeholders which is why we proceeded with the research.

"In this instance these is no universal preferred outcome with many fans feeling that this was a Hobsons choice scenario where there was no easy solution that would allow more fans into grounds without making extra demands on them.

"There was also a small minority of fans who objected to the overall concept of Vaccine Passports and their wider use."

The matter is due to be debated and, if passed, the rules would come into force at the start of next month meaning fixtures at Tynecastle where Hearts meet Motherwell, Aberdeen for the visit of Celtic and Rangers’ home match with Hibs could be among those affected.

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