Scottish Daily Mail
Holyrood hypocrisy over return of fans a disgrace
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.