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Richard Gordon column: Now is the time for Scottish Government to answer why we cannot have fans at football

Lewis Ferguson nets his howitzer against Hamilton.
Lewis Ferguson nets his howitzer against Hamilton.

The build-up to tomorrow’s encounter with Celtic consisted of two very different displays, each a little exasperating in their own way.

The showing at Tannadice was excellent, United rarely troubled the Dons defence, and the side carved out countless chances without taking a single one. Alan Muir’s failure to award a clear penalty simply added to the frustration.

Dundee United’s Lawrence Shankland appeared to block an Aberdeen effort with his hand.

The midweek victory over Hamilton was, in many ways, a typical home display. Accies started pretty well before we blew them away with a four-goal salvo, Lewis Ferguson’s strike among the most stunning we will see all season. But it all rather petered out from there, the players stopped creating chances, and the visitors briefly threatened to cause a major upset before the Dons re-established their grip on the game late on.

It was, of course, a welcome three points which moved Aberdeen up into third.

I wasn’t working that night, so like many of you, I paid my £12.99 and settled down to watch the match on RedTV. It was a rare opportunity for me to do so, the first time this season.

Rob Wicks was among the guests, and the Dons’ Commercial Director put across a strong message in support of allowing some fans back into Pittodrie.

Their plea to have 1,000 attend tomorrow was swiftly rebuffed, perhaps understandable given the rise in COVID-19 cases, but the club remains baffled by the lack of clear answers as to why football is being marginalised by the Scottish Government.

The game has certainly been given a form of special status to allow it to get up and running again, but Holyrood has dug its heels in when it comes to empty stadiums, and there is no sign of that stance softening any time soon.

Rob’s story about being on a BA flight from Aberdeen to London was particularly mind-blowing. He told how he took his seat on a full plane, brushing shoulders with fellow passengers crammed in on either side. How on Earth can that be deemed safer than allowing a fraction of attendances at football matches?

Aberdeen’s commercial director Rob Wicks

I have been less strident than others regarding this, trying to accept that the government has far more pressing concerns to deal with as the pandemic continues to scar the nation, but the time has come for someone in power to finally spell out why football supporters are being treated in this way.

Simply repeating the mantra that choices have to be made and that not everyone can get what they want is no longer acceptable.

Is it really too much to ask the First Minister or the National Clinical Director Jason Leitch to tell us why this decision has been taken, and explain the scientific evidence behind it?

If they do so, it will at least allow us to move on fully informed.

But perhaps that’s the crux of the matter, that they cannot clear things up as there is no real rationale to keep a limited number of fans out, other than that the Government says so; move along, be quiet, nothing to see here.

Still no solution for a cancelled season

It appears that the SPFL is considering canvassing all 42 member clubs in a bid to come up with a formula to end the season should it not be possible to play out all the fixtures.

Recent Covid outbreaks and the ensuing match postponements make that scenario a highly likely one.

Having failed in the summer to obtain the necessary powers required to make such a call, the SPFL Board and its Chief Executive Neil Doncaster were left impotent, and there seems little or no prospect of the members relaxing their stance on that.

If we do reach that point, it will therefore be down to the clubs to vote on whatever resolutions are put forward. Given the fury and bloodletting we saw a few months ago, and the controversy over the voting, we are heading towards another unedifying all-out battle.

Let’s just hope the virus is contained and the games played; the alternative doesn’t bear thinking about.

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