Uncertainty remains over full stadiums for Scottish clubs despite raised hopes of August return

Scottish football clubs will need to wait for further clarity on when they will be able to welcome capacity crowds back into stadiums amid conflicting messages from First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and the government’s national clinical director Jason Leitch.

National clinical director Jason Leitch (right) speaks to Celtic chief executive Dom McKay at Murrayfield on Saturday during the British and Irish Lions' match against Japan which was played in front of 16,500 spectators. (Photo by Paul Devlin / SNS Group)

In her most recent update on the Covid crisis to the Scottish Parliament last Tuesday, Ms Sturgeon strongly indicated that all major remaining restrictions would be lifted on August 9.

But in an interview on Sunday, Leitch cast fresh doubt over whether full attendance at large events such as football matches or music festivals would be permitted by that date, insisting they should only be ‘pencilled in’ to diaries.

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The whole of Scotland is currently scheduled to go into Level 0 on July 19, meaning all Scottish grounds could host 2000 fans with the option of applying for larger attendances at bigger venues on a case-by-case basis.

Under the government’s current strategy, all remaining physical distancing regulations would be lifted on August 9 which would allow clubs to fill their grounds again from the weekend of 14/15 August.

Both the Scottish FA and Scottish Professional Football League remain in regular contact with the Scottish government as they anxiously await the green light for supporters to return in maximum numbers.

But no clearer indication is likely until July 13, when Ms Sturgeon will give her next update to Parliament. Even then, clubs may have to wait until her subsequent update on August 3 before they can start selling unlimited numbers of tickets.

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