Government ready to back down and agree to spot-checks at major sporting events amid concerted pressure from Scottish FA and SPFL

The Scottish football authorities look set to win a compromise from government ministers over the controversial implementation of vaccine passports for major outdoor events.

Scottish FA chief executive Ian Maxwell (left) and SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster (right) have both questioned the Scottish government's plans for vaccine passports at major sporting events. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

Scottish FA chief executive Ian Maxwell has backed up concerns raised by his SPFL counterpart Neil Doncaster over the difficulties of undertaking blanket inspections of large crowds at football stadiums, insisting it could in fact increase the potential spread of Covid-19.

Health secretary Humza Yousaf has acknowledged Doncaster’s alternative suggestion of a more limited system of spot-checks, which the Scottish government will now look into.

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"That is absolutely an option that we are happy to consider,” said Yousaf. "What is proportionate on entry to a nightclub of 200 people may not be proportionate, or possible, in an event crowd of 60,000.”

Despite the UK government scrapping plans for a vaccine passport scheme, the Scottish government remains committed to introducing one from October 1. People over the age of 18 will need to show proof of double-vaccination before gaining entry to outdoor events with crowds of more than 10,000.

That would most notably impact Celtic and Rangers, while Scotland’s crucial World Cup qualifier against Israel at Hampden on October 9 is already a 51,000 sell-out.

“We can’t just take the government saying vaccine passports are the way forward, you have to implement these with certain numbers of crowds and not point out that, actually, it’s going to be counter-productive, it’s not going to help,” said Maxwell.

"We are trying to incentivise individuals to get the vaccine, to reduce transmission of the virus and actually these measures in practice will lead to more people being together for longer periods of time.

"You’re adding an additional check into a matchday experience. You’re adding a manual check at some point during that entry process which is going to take time.

“With the best will in the world, stewards have a difficult enough job in terms of monitoring crowds on matchdays.

"To put another matter they have to look at, in terms of a matchday entry process, is just going to exacerbate the problem and lead to greater congestion round about the turnstile area which is actually what we’re trying to avoid."

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