Talks with SPFL

Leonard says football is ready for return of fans


Aberdeen have played with test crowds (pic: SNS Group)

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard has held talks with the Scottish Professional Football League aimed at securing the safe return of spectators to matches. 

During the online talks, Mr Leonard and the SPFL discussed the prospect of admitting fans on a basis similar to the arrangements in England where limited crowds are now allowed. 

The Holyrood government said it has “no plans” to relax the current limit of 300 supporters allowed into stadiums and that the situation will not be changing for the foreseeable future.

However, Mr Leonard said there was scope for some easing of the rules.

“This was a positive meeting and will hopefully be a step on the way to allowing fans back into football stadiums,” he said.  

Richard Leonard in scarf

Richard Leonard: ‘constructive talks’ (pic: Terry Murden)

“We all accept that we have to tread carefully, given the very high rates of infection and the real dangers we are still living with. 

“However, this week we have seen the phased return of small groups of supporters at professional matches in some areas of England.      

“The stringent safety procedures being followed by the professional game in England, shows there’s a model in place for the return of fans.”

“The First Minister should launch a cross party process, involving football’s stakeholders, with a view to setting out a timetable for the safe return of fans in Scotland.”

Arsenal welcome back fans

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta said the presence of 2,000 fans to Emirates Stadium at this week’s Europa League tie against Rapid Vienna made it a “very special night”.

It had been 271 days since Arsenal fans had last attended the 60,000-capacity stadium – for the victory against West Ham United on 7 March.

“I’m delighted to have them back,” Arteta said. “They made a huge contribution. There was only 2,000 but it felt and sounded like a lot more.

“They were very supportive and encouraging to the team and the players have been saying what a huge difference it made. They felt that support.”

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