SPFL hopeful of crowd return by time Rangers kick off cinch Premiership season 2021-22 next month

Neil Doncaster is hopeful of “as many fans as possible” returning to Scottish football grounds in time for next season.

Hampden’s crowd for the European Championships, allied with an expected full-house at Wimbledon for the All England club’s finals next month have given optimism to the SPFL chief ahead of the league kick-off at the end of July.

The league announced the new campaign’s fixtures on Tuesday and now answers are awaited on how fans will see the action after almost a year and a half locked out of grounds and watching at home.

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“There is clearly good positive progress and we are all looking forward to the cinch Premiership and other divisions kicking off on July 31 but it is really important we have as many fans as possible in stadia to enjoy in the live-action because that's where everyone wants to be,” he said.

“We are delighted to have the partnership with Sky Sports and really pleased with the coverage we had, but ultimately it is about the in-stadium experience and we really hope we will get as many fans as possible back in stadia in time for the start of the season.”

Rangers kick off the campaign by raising the Scottish champions’ flag at Ibrox in a televised start to the season against Livingston, followed by Celtic’s trip to Championship winners Hearts on the same night.

The following day, Sky Sports cameras will follow Hibs’ trip to Motherwell and Doncaster hopes they will be met by crowds of some form - and is awaiting answers.

SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)
SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)

Speaking to the league’s broadcast partner he added: “It is a great relief that we were allowed just over 10,000 fans at Hampden and clearly that is positive progress and we are seeing announcements south of the border, I think at the Wimbledon Championships the final will now be at capacity so clearly it is building up and we are looking forward to getting more clarification on more fans as soon as possible.”

The Scottish top flight will include derby matches across three Scottish cities – Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee – this season with the first coming on August 28 when the Old Firm meet at Ibrox.

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