Supporters to return at two Scottish Premiership matches

Two Scottish Premiership matches will go ahead this weekend with about 300 fans in the stands as part of pilot events for the return of crowds to football.

Aberdeen v Kilmarnock and Ross County v Celtic will each open their doors to a limited number of members of the public for the first time since lockdown forced the suspension and then curtailment of last season.

The Scottish Government said other proposed pilot events involving Rangers and St Mirren games in Glasgow and Paisley will not go ahead due to the extra coronavirus restrictions in the west of Scotland.

Soccer – SPFL Premiership – Ross County v Celtic – Victoria Park
Victoria Park will welcome 300 home fans for Saturday’s clash between Ross County and Celtic (Jeff Holmes/PA)

It follows a trial event at the Guinness PRO14 rugby union game at Murrayfield between Edinburgh and Glasgow last month, when 700 spectators were allowed into the stands.

“We look forward to building on the successful all-sport supporter pilot at BT Murrayfield and I know that clubs take the responsibility for the safe return of supporters seriously,” said SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster.

“This is another significant step forward for Scottish football and I reiterate the importance of fans to our national game.”

Aberdeen and Ross County will provide post-match reports to inform any future pilot schemes, the SPFL said.

Both clubs will undertake a ballot of season-ticket holders to determine who gains entry.

“Our primary focus now is to build on the rigorous work that has been done so far to ensure we can host games at Pittodrie and extend that to provide a safe experience for our fans who have waited patiently for this opportunity,” said commercial director Rob Wicks.

“This is a learning process for us all and will require a bit more patience before we get back to the sort of crowds we were used to seeing before the pandemic began.”

Ministers have stressed no decision has been taken on the general return of fans to stadiums and “nothing should be taken for granted”.

“No final decision has yet been taken regarding the general resumption of stadia events with restricted numbers of spectators and nothing should be taken for granted at this stage,” Sports minister Joe FitzPatrick said.

“A lot of work has gone on behind the scenes in recent months to create the protocols and testing regimes to allow top-level professional sport in Scotland to resume and this arrangement follows extensive discussions with the Scottish FA, SPFL and clubs about public safety – particularly in relation to physical distancing and hygiene measures.

“The football authorities and the clubs involved have also been able to review and learn from the pilot event staged by Scottish Rugby on August 28 and we are confident there will be strict protocols in place at these two initial pilot football events.

“We are keeping all pilot events under close review.”

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