Sir Kenny Dalglish hopeful technology can help get supporters back in grounds
Sir Kenny Dalglish is hopeful a Manchester-based cyber technology company can help ensure the Tartan Army make it to Euro 2020 after Scotland’s qualification heroics on Thursday.
The former Liverpool player and manager is the latest high-profile name, after Mike and Zara Tindall, to support VST Enterprises, becoming a global sporting ambassador for the group who have a UK wide campaign to get sports fans back into stadiums.
A secure digital health passport, V-Health Passport, is viewed as key to getting supporters into grounds again with the ‘Fans Are Back’ pilot scheme based around a 15-minute antigen and 10-minute antibody test result being uploaded to the passport, which has a unique VCode for each individual.
Once uploaded in 30 seconds, a simple scan of the code at security gates of a football ground or even a work place or school would show that individual has tested negative for Covid-19 and is therefore fine to enter the premises.
With Scotland fans getting ready to return to the world stage for the first time since 1998 next summer, and with a mouth-watering clash against England at Wembley on June 18, the joint-record goalscorer for the country would love to see supporters in attendance.
Dalglish told the PA news agency: “It will be a fantastic boost if everyone is capable of going to the matches.
“We have two at Hampden and in between a game at Wembley, which I would imagine a few of the Tartan Army would enjoy going to that, but it’s got to be fit and healthy times for them to go.
“If they can go that would be fantastic because the football was brilliant when it came back, we got to watch the matches and it was a wee bit surreal, but now the people are looking to get back in.
“You saw the Northern Ireland game (against Slovakia) in Belfast, there were a few punters there and you think could that work here? You don’t know but it has got to be done correctly, properly and as securely and safely as they can possibly get it.
“If they used the V-Health Passport and gave it a try, it wouldn’t do them any harm.”
Tech entrepreneur Louis-James Davis founded VST Enterprises and has developed the secure digital health passport, which has been ready since the start of lockdown.
Documents have been submitted to the UK Government, the Department For Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the Sports Technology Innovation Group (STIG) with the ‘Fans Are Back’ pilot proposal put forward to chiefs in football, rugby and F1.
A key feature of V-Health Passport is that it also has its own unique contact tracing technology which is specifically designed for sports and football stadiums.
“If we wanted to get people in during the summer, we could have done,” Davis told the PA news agency.
“If the Government decides now is the right time to start testing it, we can do straight away it is just a case of being allowed to.
“We do have large scale things going live already. For instance we have Kings Cross in London, where we have 15,000 people a week on a construction site and that is similar to a small event so we should be able to use the same maths to say you could get into an event.”
The coronavirus pandemic saw Scotland’s Nations League play-off semi-final with Israel eventually delayed until October from its original date of March.
A penalty shoot-out was required to progress and it was the same in the final play-off qualifier on Thursday when David Marshall denied Serbia’s Aleksandar Mitrovic to secure Steve Clarke’s side a place at next summer’s tournament.
Dalglish worked with the 57-year-old at Liverpool in 2012 and said: “It was a fantastic result for Scotland and very well deserved.
“It was a really good performance but like in normal Scottish situations they did it dramatically losing a goal in the last minute and then having the last penalty kick saved by David Marshall.
“You wouldn’t have expected it to be any other way with Scotland, but it is a huge uplift for everyone – not just football fans, for the nation as well.”
Dalglish continued: “It is unbelievable to go through nine games undefeated, for Scotland it is fantastic.
“Steve has done a great job. He has recognised where their strengths are, which is in the defensive numbers and organisation, and he has set up to play like that. He deserves all the credit for what he has achieved.”