Sadiq Khan fears influx of ticketless Scotland fans will cause Covid spike

·2 min read
Scotland fans in Trafalgar Square, London, as thousands of football fans descend on the capital for the England v Scotland World Cup qualifier.  -  Stefan Rousseau
Scotland fans in Trafalgar Square, London, as thousands of football fans descend on the capital for the England v Scotland World Cup qualifier. - Stefan Rousseau

Ticketless Scotland fans who gather in London to watch Friday's Euro 2020 match with England risk creating a spike in coronavirus cases, the city's mayor has warned.

Sadiq Khan reiterated a plea for the Tartan Army to stay at home for the match unless they had a safe place to watch the game.

He said Scotland supporters would not be able to access their traditional meeting spot of Trafalgar Square as it would be used as a socially distanced, ticketed fan zone for key workers, and pubs would have limited space due to coronavirus measures.

His office said it was not possible to arrange a separate screening in the city to accommodate large numbers of fans from Scotland under current Covid-19 restrictions.

His message was echoed by the Scottish Government and Police Scotland ahead of the showdown, amid fears that large numbers of the Tartan Army could travel.

Scotland fans have been allocated only 2,600 tickets for the Wembley Stadium clash, but supporters’ groups estimate eight times as many could flood the capital. Up to 20,000 Scots are expected in London for the group match, which kicks off at 8pm. The match has assumed even greater importance after the Scotland team lost its opening group match to the Czech Republic.

Mr Khan said: "It is absolutely fantastic that Scotland are playing in their first international tournament for 23 years and I cannot wait for Friday's match.

"Scottish fans are renowned around the world for bringing a party atmosphere with them to the big tournaments but with Covid restrictions still in place on both sides of the border, the best thing for fans without tickets to the game or a safe place to watch it is to enjoy the game from Scotland and not come to London.

"In an ideal world I would welcome the Tartan Army to London for this match with open arms, but with Covid cases increasing, and with so much at stake as we fight this awful virus, I'm afraid that it just cannot be this time, so the best thing to do is not to come to London and instead enjoy the game at home."

Jenny Gilruth, the Scottish Culture Minister, said: "I strongly urge fans to only travel if you have a ticket or a safe place to watch the match from."

"Although we have made great progress, we all still have an important part to play in making sure we keep the virus under control. So I urge all football fans to plan in advance how you are going to safely enjoy the tournament."