Neil Doncaster urges fans to enjoy return of Scottish football responsibly
Neil Doncaster has urged fans to stick to social distancing rules in order to stave off the risk of Scottish football being plunged back into lockdown.
The Scottish Premiership returns to action on Saturday as the new campaign gets under way.
And Scottish Professional Football League chief executive Doncaster has praised the “Herculean efforts” put in by clubs to ensure they can kick-off safely.
There was an added boost for the game north of the border this week with the Scottish Government announcing a limited number of supporters could be allowed into stadiums from September 14 as part of a test event schedule.
But Doncaster is determined to ensure the fragile return to normality is not put in jeopardy in the meantime as fans gather in homes and pubs to watch their team.
He said: “We’ve just had the longest close-season ever and no-one wants to go through that again. It’s taken a Herculean effort by clubs and footballing authorities, working with health experts and Scottish Government, to get us to this stage and I’m hugely grateful for their leadership and commitment.
“These gains have been enormously hard-won, with players and officials doing all they can to ensure we can bring football back. Everyone involved in the game is desperate to see fans back in the grounds as quickly as possible. They are the lifeblood of our sport and the SPFL, more than most, feeds off the passion and excitement generated in stadia.
“It’s for that reason that, as matches finally resume, all fans must stick rigidly to social distancing on match days, especially where they are gathering to watch games on TV.
“It’s utterly crucial that all licensed premises showing the Sky Sports matches do so safely – and that means publicans adhering religiously to reduced capacity limits to help prevent coronavirus from flaring up again.
“Where fans are watching at home, the need to avoid tightly packed gatherings indoors is a no-brainer.
“We’ve all seen what is happening on the continent and in countries such as Australia – potential second waves of Coronavirus are a real danger, so we all simply must protect the integrity of the league by being responsible.
“Clubs themselves are liaising with their fans regularly to ensure they don’t gather at grounds during matches, but Scottish supporters have the pivotal role here – the stricter they are in protecting themselves and their loved ones, the more they will protect their clubs.
“If we all play our part, we have a tremendous opportunity to showcase the very best of our game, in what promises to be a uniquely compelling season ahead.”
While football supporters must wait until September 14 to catch a glimpse of their clubs, darts fans are set to witness some live action as soon as next month after it was announced Scotland’s top players will take on English rivals – including former PDC world champion Adrian Lewis – in two drive-in events.
The first Parking Lot Social Scotland vs England Darts Classic 2020 will be staged at Edinburgh’s Dalkeith Country Park on August 20, with a second scheduled for Glasgow’s Skyport Park & Ride on September 3.
Josh Kinnersley of organisers XL Event Lab said: “Safety remains our number one priority and darts, being a non-contact sport played from a stage, is naturally compliant with social distancing guidelines and translates well to a drive-in platform.”