First Minister’s COVID-19 Update

The Joint Response Group sympathises with clubs and supporters across the country following today’s confirmation by the First Minister that Scottish football will again be subject to restrictions on stadium capacity.

From Boxing Day and for three weeks thereafter, football attendances will be capped at 500 people in line with all outdoor events. One metre physical distancing will also be required within a stadium during that time.

The JRG is already in discussions with Scottish Government on behalf of clubs to ensure any loss of income at this critical period will be compensated via the COVID-19 support fund announced by the First Minister. The JRG will be holding a series of consultations about the impact of the new restrictions over the next 24 hours.

The JRG has worked collaboratively with Scottish Government throughout the pandemic to ensure the stadium environment can be a safe and enjoyable experience for all, including the recent introduction of vaccine certification spot checking and asking supporters to demonstrate a negative Lateral Flow Test prior to arrival.

A daily testing regime has been introduced across the Scottish Professional Football League and enhanced protocols implemented for playing and team staff.

Equally, we are aware of the threat of the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus and, to that end, have volunteered the use of stadia across the country to aid the vaccine and booster jab programmes.

We appreciate the tough decisions faced by the government and clinicians in suppressing the transmission of Omicron and while we believe the mitigations implemented will have enabled stadia to be as safe as possible for the two weeks prior to the winter break, we have no control over the transport risks highlighted in today’s update.

Rod Petrie, Joint Response Group Chair: “Today’s announcement is a source of disappointment to hundreds of thousands of fans across the country, for whom attending football matches during the festive season has been a tradition spanning generations.

“None the less, public health remains a priority for everyone in society as well as a responsibility for industries across the country, including football. The JRG exists to be the conduit between the national game and the Scottish Government throughout the pandemic and will continue to work with our members to ensure a seamless implementation of the new restrictions, whilst working on their behalf to ensure compensation for lost revenue via the UK and Scottish Government’s latest COVID relief fund.”

Neil Doncaster, Scottish Professional Football League Chief Executive: “Today’s news will be a hammer blow to clubs and fans across the country, who simply could not have done more to mitigate the impact of the ongoing pandemic. Despite the enormous financial impact, the 42 clubs have provided an invaluable source of reassurance, support and relief from the day-to-day impact of COVID-19 in communities throughout Scotland and they will continue to do so.

“Our clubs have adapted quickly and effectively to previous restrictions, and we will work with them in implementing the guidance from today’s announcement in the coming days.”