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Delay to lockdown easing casts doubt over fan attendance at Scottish Cup final

Dundee United v Hibernian – Scottish Cup – Semi Final – Hampden Park
(Image credit: Jeff Holmes)

Major doubt has been cast on the Scottish Cup final hosting any fans after further lockdown easing was postponed in Glasgow for at least a week.

Hibernian and St Johnstone were each set to have 300 fans at Hampden Park for the showpiece event on May 22.

But Glasgow will remain under Level 3 restrictions along with Moray when most of Scotland moves to Level 2 on Monday, after the city experienced a fresh surge of Covid-19 cases. The situation will be assessed after a week.

National clinical director Jason Leitch admitted the ruling was set to have implications for the cup final.

“The situation now I’m afraid is that there is no travel in or out of Glasgow,” Professor Leitch told BBC Scotland’s Drivetime programme.

“That’s just been announced so we haven’t had time to talk to the SFA yet. We will of course do that.

“But the rules are no travel in or out for non-essential reasons. So that would put at risk, I would’ve thought, fans coming in and out. And Level 3 stadia can’t have anybody in them.”

Aberdeen had previously offered to host the final to allow supporters to attend.

Hibs head coach Jack Ross earlier declared himself “baffled” by the decision to limit the crowd to 600, just 100 more than the automatic limit.

The Scottish Football Association had applied for a 2,000-strong crowd after UEFA approved the entry of fans for the European Championship venue.

Ross could not understand the limit when 12,000 are due to attend Euro 2020 games at Hampden and the UK Government approved plans for a Wembley crowd of 21,000 for Saturday’s FA Cup final between Chelsea and Leicester.

“There’s been a lot of things over the last year and a half I’ve understood, but others I’ve struggled to get my head around,” said Ross, after Hibs announced plans, now up in the air, to give players and staff 60 tickets for family members, with the remaining 240 set aside for season-ticket holders.

“And I can’t quite understand this decision. I’m sure, as always happens, that people will come out in the aftermath of anyone complaining and point out why they’re right and we’re wrong. But I do find it baffling to be honest.

“One of the reasons given was about need for the two-metre distancing outside. Now I may be mistaken – and if I am I apologise – but I think from Monday’s it’s a metre distancing required for indoor hospitality.

“Yet it’s two-metre distancing outside for the final. I’m a layman when it comes to science but I don’t quite get that.

“It’s a shame, especially when you see that not that far away in the same country, because we are part of the United Kingdom, there is an awful lot more going to be at another cup final.

“In the not too distant future, there’s going to be a lot more people than 600 inside the same stadium. So I just find it difficult to comprehend.”

Meanwhile, Ross warned Celtic that his side were also looking to provide a fitting send-off when Scott Brown makes his final appearance for the Hoops at Easter Road on Saturday.

“It’s important I pay tribute to Scott and what he’s achieved at Celtic,” Ross said. “It’s absolutely remarkable the number of trophies he’s won (22) and the contribution he’s made to his club and country too.

“From our point of view, it’s Ofir (Marciano)’s final game before he moves on to a fresh challenge and it will be an emotional day as well, particularly given what he has contributed here.

“It’s important for us we try to give him a fitting farewell by winning the game.”