Nicola Sturgeon: No plans to cancel the Celtic v Rangers game despite fears it will lead to gatherings in homes

Rangers and Celtic’s scheduled match next week will still go ahead despite new restrictions across Glasgow and the central belt of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard with Celtic manager Neil Lennon at Celtic Park on December 29, 2019 - the last time the sides met.
Rangers manager Steven Gerrard with Celtic manager Neil Lennon at Celtic Park on December 29, 2019 - the last time the sides met.

The First Minister addressed the issue with the big match at Celtic Park on the horizon next Saturday – a week on from new measures to curb coronavirus which will be implemented for 16 days from 6pm tonight.

Those will see pubs and restaurants across the central belt closed, so fans – already banned from football grounds across the country – will only be able to watch the match at home.

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“It wouldn’t be my decision whether the Old Firm game is cancelled or not, I certainly have had no discussion about cancelling the Old Firm game,” she said.

Nicola Sturgeon has said fans should not congregate in groups to watch the match - but it should still go ahead (Andrew Milligan/PA Wire)
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“I would like football … to go ahead, because it’s good that folk who can’t be in the pub and can’t be having house parties can at least watch their football team on the telly.

“I want these things to go ahead and there’s certainly no plans as far as I’m aware to cancel the Old Firm match.”

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Ms Sturgeon did, however, discourage groups congregating in groups to watch the game.

She added: “Please don’t have a house party just because you can’t go to the pub. We’re all having to live with really difficult restrictions right now to keep each other safe and to try and avoid people becoming ill and dying.

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“We’re all having to make sacrifices right now – they’re horrible, they get more horrible with every day that passes – but don’t forget why.

“Because if we don’t make these sacrifices right now, more people will get Covid, more people will get ill from it and more people will die.”

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Coronavirus has already dominated the build-up to the match with Celtic’s Odsonne Edouard testing positive for COVID-19 while on international duty in France, and then team-mate Ryan Christie was ruled out of the October 17 SPFL Premiership match through self-isolation.

Despite returning negative tests, the Scotland midfielder was identified as a close contact of Stuart Armstrong who did receive a positive result for the virus in the national team camp, and both Christie and Arsenal’s Kieran Tierney must now isolate for a fortnight.