Scottish Daily Mail

Holy­rood hypocrisy over re­turn of fans a dis­grace

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YOU have to ad­mire the brass neck of this Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment. They’re no longer even try­ing to fight the per­cep­tion of dif­fer­ent treat­ment for foot­ball and rugby. The SPFL are seek­ing ur­gent talks in a bid to get fans back into grounds. So far, the si­lence from Holy­rood is deaf­en­ing. Con­trast that with the re­sponse to the SRU. Mur­ray­field have drawn up plans to al­low fans back into games in the new year. They want 5,000 in for Ed­in­burgh’s clash with Glas­gow on Jan­uary 2, and 10,000 for an­other Pro14 match prior to the Six Na­tions. If all goes well, they want 25,000 for Scot­land’s games with Wales, Ire­land and Italy. Dis­cus­sions are due to take place with Sports Min­is­ter Joe Fitz­Patrick next week. If the SRU get their way, it’s ter­rific news. None of which will al­ter the fact that giv­ing rugby the green light while keep­ing the gates locked at foot­ball will con­firm what many of us have felt for years. This Gov­ern­ment treats rugby as the na­tional sport. And foot­ball as a pur­suit for lower-class oiks. You can hear them lining up now to say foot­ball brought it on them­selves with ag­gres­sive lob­by­ing. The SRU played the diplo­matic card and are reap­ing their re­wards. But when Neil Don­caster and Mike Mul­raney ac­cused the Gov­ern­ment of judg­ing foot­ball’s fate on po­lit­i­cal rather than clin­i­cal grounds, the same peo­ple splut­tered with in­dig­na­tion. They can’t have it both ways.

If min­is­ters have taken the hump at foot­ball’s de­mands to throw open the gates, that’s a po­lit­i­cal and spite­ful de­ci­sion. Not re­motely clin­i­cal. And if they de­cide Mur­ray­field is more suited to host­ing fans? That’s a po­lit­i­cal de­ci­sion as well. Foot­ball has done its best to show it can mit­i­gate risk and ac­com­mo­date sup­port­ers safely. Coro­n­avirus makes no dis­tinc­tion be­tween rugby and foot­ball fans. The Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment? They’re a slightly dif­fer­ent mat­ter.

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