Scottish Government to assist St Johnstone over potential Euro venue nightmare against Galatasaray
The Perth club are due to face either PSV Eindhoven or the Turkish giants in the third qualifying round of the tournament at the start of August, with the likelihood of it being Galatasaray very high after the Dutch outfit won the first leg 5-1. The second leg of that Champions League qualifier will be played on Tuesday.
However, if it is indeed to be Galatasaray, then both the home and away leg of the tie are set to be at a neutral venue due to Turkey being on the Covid-19 red list for foreign travel.
St Johnstone’s away leg is due to be played on August 5, with the second leg at McDiarmid Park on August 12.
The most likely alternative options include Iceland, Malta, Croatia and Bulgaria, given they are on the green list, and if the tie does indeed go to a neutral venue, then no fans will be permitted to travel due to UEFA supporter rules for the competition.
St Johnstone fear that a sporting exemption won’t be given for either club, with Saints boss Callum Davidson admitting concern over the situation.
“It could be a possibility that we have to play both games at a neutral venue if we get Galatasaray,” Davidson told The Courier.
“We’re extremely disappointed. The reason we get into Europe is for the supporters.
“They want to watch Galatasaray – if it’s them – and for me it’s an extremely disappointing situation.
“It’s not cost-effective either for the club. It will actually cost the club money to do it too.
“There are obviously reasons for it which I don’t quite know or understand.
“All I know is when you get into Europe it’s all about the fans.
“I remember when we played Eskisehirspor there was a full house at McDiarmid Park. It was the same for Rosenberg.
“These games are all about the supporters being able to come along and enjoy something different.
“Hopefully we can work towards a way where we can have the game at McDiarmid Park.
“If it is to be Galatasaray, we want to play against a top class team from Turkey in Perth.
“I would love us to get something done but I’m not an expert on the situation.
“I have to focus on getting eleven players on the park and see what happens next.”
However, the Scottish Government are prepared to examine the case and try to find a solution for St Johnstone, who are in the competition by virtue of winning the Scottish Cup last season.
“International travel restrictions remain necessary to limit the importation of the virus and variants of concern,” a Scottish Government spokesperson told The Sun.
"Red list countries pose the highest risk, and we must therefore consider any exemptions very carefully. "We are aware of the particular issue outlined and will work with the football authorities to aim to find a suitable solution.”