All the way through the global health crisis, I have been supportive of the Scottish Government and their handling of the situation.
Regular readers know that full well.
I’ve praised them for taking time, for following the science, for listening to what the experts say and taking things slowly … it has paid dividends in stemming the worst effects, reflected in the low numbers of deaths over the past few months.
They have gotten the big things right, and this week’s decision to make the wearing of masks mandatory in school communal areas is the latest proof of it.
But their decision, today, to deny Scottish clubs – with Celtic the trailblazers, by the way – the chance to run test programs aimed at getting fans back into stadiums is absolutely ludicrous and defies logic. There is simply no rationale for it at all, especially as 700 fans will be allowed into Murrayfield this weekend as rugby gets the nod that football failed to.
This is simply inconsistent nonsense, and worse; this is another anti-football decision, the latest in a long line of them from a Parliament which I otherwise have the greatest respect for. Our fans are still treated like second class citizens.
You’d never think that football is one of the cornerstones of Scotland’s cultural economy.
No wonder football’s leaders are said to be furious today.
I wish I believed that we actually had leaders in this game, people with the gravitas to challenge this decision properly and get a public explanation for it. But of course, we don’t … our leaders are just as gutless as those newspaper editors who refuse to write a bad word about Ibrox.
We’ll get a half-assed statement and that’ll be that.
Now, for the record, I don’t support letting large numbers of football fans into grounds.
I don’t believe there is any safe way to let tens of thousands of people go through stadium concourses and queue for bathrooms and drinks and snacks in a way that doesn’t make the possibility of contagion very, very real.
We’re going to have to accept that until we have a vaccine or some treatment that works that full stadiums are just not going to happen.
But the test program is a good idea.
Letting limited numbers of fans into grounds, to see what’s feasible and what isn’t, is a good idea.
And how it can be seen to be a good idea in rugby stadia but not in a footballing environment is something somebody is going to have to come forward and explain to all of us in a way that doesn’t insult our intelligence.
Celtic has been at the forefront of efforts to make football in Scotland as safe as it can be, and we were leading the way on this too … so it feels, in some ways, like a very personal snub against our club.
I am not alleging that, of course, but we worked with the SRU in designing the very protocols which will see rugby fans back in stadiums.
It is a shocking decision from the Scottish Government today.
It is anti-football in the clearest possible sense and football cannot take it lying down.
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