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Scottish First Minister wary of football behind closed doors


Edinburgh (AFP) – Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon believes a return of football even behind closed doors risks boosting the spread of coronavirus as fans could congregate to watch games.

Matches across Britain have been suspended indefinitely because of the virus.

Strict measures regarding social distancing and mass gatherings mean it will likely be months before sports venues can reopen to full capacity.

It has been hoped that matches can resume behind closed doors before then to fulfil broadcasting contracts and keep clubs afloat.

But Sturgeon is wary of crowds gathering to watch games together or close to stadiums where matches are being played.

“We have to consider if that completely takes away the risk,” said the Scottish National Party leader. “If a match is still on TV, the danger is people will congregate together to watch.

“What I will say is they will be very carefully considered and we’ll share as much of that as we can.”

Scotland’s lower-league seasons have already been brought to an end.

Sturgeon warned that some form of coronavirus restrictions could remain in place until a vaccine is found, words that will be of little comfort to Scottish clubs, who rely on gate receipts for a large proportion of their revenue.

“We want to get a semblance of normality back to people’s lives but we can’t risk a resurgence of this virus,” she said.

“I know that is not good news for people who have sport as a really important part of their lives but it would be wrong for me to give false expectation about an early resumption of large-scale sporting events.”

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