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Scottish football offers help for mass vaccination programme

SPFL chief says clubs 'still awaiting a response' from Nicola Sturgeon on offer

SCOTTISH football chiefs have offered to help with the roll-out of a Covid-19 vaccine in hope that it will accelerate the return of fans to stadiums.

SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster said on Sunday that he has called for an emergency meeting with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to discuss reopening turnstiles to help cash-strapped clubs survive the Covid-19 crisis.

But so far he has been rebuffed, with Scotland’s national clinical director Professor Jason Leitch declaring that allowing fans back into grounds would come at the expense of larger numbers of coronavirus cases, hospital admissions or deaths.

Doncaster now hopes that the offer to help with the implementation of a nationwide vaccination programme might help the SPFL’s case.

He claims that the country’s 42 league clubs are “ready, willing and able” to assist the NHS and other public bodies by making their facilities available for the mass-vaccination scheme.

“All the arguments in favour of bringing back fans safely, outdoors and socially distanced, are exactly the same reasons why our clubs are uniquely placed to help with the roll-out of the national vaccination programme,” he said.

“We have 42 stadiums spread throughout the country with transport links, parking facilities, expertise in handling crowds and plenty of space to ensure social distancing.

“Everyone knows where their local stadium is located and, with five million attendances each season, people are very familiar with how the grounds function.

“We are still awaiting a response from the First Minister to our request for an emergency meeting, and this is one of the topics we would be very keen to discuss.

He said there is “enormous enthusiasm” from clubs to play their part.

“Football clubs are at the very heart of their communities and are already doing so much, despite their own enormous financial pressures, to support health and wellbeing programmes locally,” Doncaster said.

“It makes perfect sense for us to have dialogue with the First Minister on this topic, as well as the overwhelming arguments for bringing back fans in a safe and secure manner, as they have announced in England.”

The government said it will consider the details of the offer “and look forward to discussing the part SPFL can play in this vital work.”


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