Celtic vs Rangers Covid fan latest as clubs speak out about possible capacity crowd lifeline

IT remains to be seen whether the New Year derby between Celtic and Rangers will go ahead in front of a capacity crowd after new restrictions were announced by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

Restrictions being reimposed for large events means just 500 fans will be able to attend games after Boxing Day, but supporters have been urged to stay away from grounds before that date.

Glasgow’s big two are set to lock horns on January 2 at 12pm, but with the majority of top flight clubs looking to bring forward the winter break there is a slither of possibility that the game could still be played with a sell out crowd.

This would mean that matches would return when the Scottish Government are set to review the changes in three weeks.

Sturgeon said: “From December 26 inclusive, for a period of up to three weeks, we intend to place limits on the size of live public events.”

Celtic have already come out publicly in support of bringing the winter break forward.

“In light of today’s announcement regarding supporters attending matches,” a club statement read, “Celtic can confirm that it has today requested that the SPFL bring forward the scheduled winter break and reschedule the fixtures affected by the regulations announced.

“The game owes it to supporters to explore all opportunities to maximise the prospect of all supporters being able to attend matches and support the game they love.”

The SPFL have yet to issue a response at the time of writing but Celtic’s request has been backed by fellow top-flight clubs including Hearts, St Johnstone, Hibernian and Motherwell.

Rangers are yet to have their say on a possible early winter break.

David Martindale called for player welfare as well as fan concerns to be taken into account after confirming Livingston were among 10 out of 12 clubs who are in favour of starting the cinch Premiership winter break early.

Martindale – who called last week for Scottish football to implement an immediate two-week circuit-breaker – told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme Livingston were “100 per cent” looking for games to be postponed.

“Most clubs, I think it’s 10 out of 12 clubs, would rather postpone these fixtures so we can play them with fans back in stadiums at a later date,” he added.

“I can understand both sides of the story to be honest because there’s no way of knowing in three or four weeks’ time if we are going to be in the same situation.

“I think it should come down to the clubs but ultimately we’ve got commercial contracts and there’s commercial obligations so I imagine there’s a lot more stakeholders than just the football clubs that are going to be able to make this decision.

“I think we’ve got to try and explore a way of postponing these fixtures and playing them at a later date when fans are allowed back into the stadium.

“I’ve spoken to a lot of my players, I spoke to players at other clubs and everybody is kind of of the same opinion that they would rather not play the fixture than play it in front of 500 fans, but that’s just looking at it from a fan point of view.

“You’ve also got to look at it from a player welfare point of view and stopping the spread of Omicron.”

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