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Scottish FA chief executive Ian Maxwell says plans “full steam ahead” for fans to attend Euro 2020 games at Hampden Park

Scottish FA chief executive Ian Maxwell.
Scottish FA chief executive Ian Maxwell.

Scottish FA chief executive Ian Maxwell remains optimistic about the prospect of Hampden Park being able to host supporters at Euro 2020 next month.

Scotland’s national stadium has been granted permission to accommodate 12,000 fans at four matches during this summer’s tournament, starting with the Scots’ Group D fixture against Czech Republic on June 14.

Glasgow is the only part of the country which remains in tier three of Covid-19 restrictions however, which prevented any fans being allowed to attend Saturday’s Scottish Cup final between St Johnstone and Hibernian.

St Johnstone’s Scottish Cup final victory over Hibernian was played behind closed doors at Hampden Park.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon says Glasgow’s situation will be reviewed at the end of this week, however Maxwell says plans to facilitate fans are still “full steam ahead” in advance of next month’s tournament.

Maxwell said: “The decision to let 12,000 fans in was made when Scotland was still in the pandemic so nothing has changed actually, if you think about it in that regard.

“Until we are told otherwise we are absolutely continuing full steam ahead and looking to 12,000 fans being able to cheer on the team and being able to use the power that that generates to help football inspire the nation.

“Hampden was given a dispensation at the time, even just in terms of the seating configuration.

“The games that let spectators in over the weekend had a 2m configuration while Hampden was given a dispensation of 1.5m.

“So it has been a ‘special case’ as part of the gateway process. The Scottish Government are looking at the Euros as part of getting the events industry back, no doubt about that.

“We are absolutely committed to fans being in the stadium for the game.

“Until we are told otherwise there will be spectators in the stadium.”

With a view to the forthcoming Scottish season, Maxwell says the capacity of stadia will largely depend on a review of the two metre physical distancing rule in the hope of permitting more supporters to attend games.

Hampden Park is a host venue for Euro 2020.

Maxwell added: “Obviously the restrictions at the moment mean that at level zero it’s up to 2000 in a seated environment.

“It will be interesting to see the results of this review of two metre physical distancing and what that means because that’s going to have a big impact on clubs in terms of facilities, in terms of what they need to do to make sure their players are safe.

“There is also the knock-on in terms of spectators because a lot of clubs are using every available area of their stands to get players changing rooms.

“At Easter Road they are changing in a concourse in one of the stands behind the one of the goals. If they still need to do that they can’t get spectators into that stand because they are using the space, so there are so many knock-ons that make it really challenging.

“The review of 2m distancing, and the outcome of that, will definitely help get things a bit more structured so fans can understand exactly when they can get into games.

“If that comes down then obviously that will increase those numbers and clubs can do a bit of work.

“But I genuinely don’t get a sense of whether in a month or two’s time, because of the vaccination and prevalence, there will be a wee bit of a relaxation.”

The return of supporters has been quicker off the ground in England, where 21,000 supporters were granted entry to the FA Cup final between Leicester City and Chelsea at Wembley earlier this month.

Maxwell says the introduction of crowds south of the border is a sign Scotland is not far behind, adding: “We have been different from England throughout this whole process. The decisions our government have made have been different and we have done things to a different timescale. That’s been a government decision, we’ve had no influence in terms of when they make the decisions we just have to make sure we are informed when they are and we know the impact they will have.

“On one hand it’s frustrating seeing the numbers down south but on the other hand it is encouraging because your logic is if they are getting spectators in then hopefully we are not that far behind in similar sort of numbers.”

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