Testing Delays Show How Hard It’s Going To Be To Get Celtic Fans Back Into Grounds.

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The news, yesterday, that the latest trials for getting fans back into stadiums have been rejected in light of the government’s latest restrictions was hardly a surprise. It would have been a bigger one had they decided to go along with the scheme.

We are learning, but slowly, how difficult getting fans back into stadiums is going to be. A lot of folk are still screaming about the unfairness of it all, but the public good is going to come in front of what football clubs want. It is frustrating, but ultimately it’s right.

We are in a bad spot here, as case numbers ramp up again, which was inevitable the second we started to re-open our houses, workplaces, schools and social areas. Local lockdowns are going to work to a point, but another national one is nearly a certainty.

Everybody wants this over with. The government, business, the citizenry.

We all want this thing to go away and let us get back to our normal lives, but this isn’t going to happen until one of three things does. We’ll get a vaccine, this will mutate to a benign form or we get some treatments which will turn this into something minor, requiring a short hospital stay at worst.

The last of these looks the most imminent and even then it doesn’t look particularly close. The way this thing spreads, the speed of it, and all the uncertainty over aerosol transmission means that almost anything we do is going to be risky until this is fixed.

On the surface of it, football fans are still being treated lamentably; it’s not difficult to look at the new restrictions in place in Glasgow and see them as a response to the number of people gathering in private homes to watch matches on the virtual season tickets, as an alternative to meeting up in the pub or going to the matches.

The simple truth is that there’s no safe way to congregate anywhere, and those who continue to kid themselves that it will be safe to do so in football stadiums are ignoring a lot of evidence.

This is about packed supporter’s buses where nobody wears masks, and where everyone is singing and which transfers carriers from one part of the country to the other. It’s about ferries which are even more packed, coming over from Ireland.

It’s about concourses in grounds where social distancing is impossible.

Yes, once fans are in their seats – if those seats are separated, dropping attendances by at least two thirds – there might be less transmission … but the problems aren’t in the stands, they are in every other part of the ground and in the pubs around the stadiums and in the transportation infrastructure that gets supporters around.

The way I see it, and have from the start, is that our club has done everything it can but that it won’t be enough.

Trial programs and test runs might find that it’s safe to have limited numbers of fans inside grounds, but the first local shutdown will change everything anyway … we’re at the mercy of this thing and although that’s not a pleasant thought it’s true.

Celtic fans are going to have to get comfortable with the idea that we won’t be able to watch our team inside grounds until at least the turn of the year.

When winter hits and this thing is competing with the seasonal flu then I don’t even know that we’ll have games on at all … when we can’t even guarantee that we’ll complete the seasons, fans in grounds is a distant dream. It probably won’t happen in 2020.

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