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Government insists Euro 2020 Hampden capacity set after extensive planning

Rangers v FC Porto – UEFA Europa League – Group G – Ibrox Stadium
(Image credit: Andrew Milligan)

The Scottish Government has stressed that Euro 2020 capacity limits at Hampden were set following “extensive” advance planning and to take account of the international significance of the games.

The government responded after Rangers expressed disappointment that they will be limited to 2,000 supporters for their Ibrox friendly against Arsenal on Saturday.

The figure is the maximum capacity allowed for outdoor events under Level 2 Covid restrictions and organisers currently have to apply to local authorities for exemptions to accommodate more than the standard limit of 500 for outdoor events.

The standard limit rises to 2,000 on Monday when Scotland moves to Level 0 but clubs can apply to councils to host more supporters on a case-by-case basis.

The Scottish Government hopes to move beyond Level 0 on August 9.

Rangers had pointed to the Euro 2020 matches at Hampden, which were allowed 12,000 supporters, when announcing the capacity limits for the visit of the Gunners.

A statement on the club’s website read: “Following lengthy discussions with the Scottish Government and local authorities, Rangers have been granted permission to host 2,000 supporters at Saturday’s friendly match with Arsenal.

“Rangers are disappointed at the small number of supporters being granted access given the precedent which was set at the Euro 2020 matches at Hampden Park as well as at other sporting events in Scotland, and the time it has taken to have the number of supporters confirmed by the Scottish Government.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson told the PA news agency: “At the current stage of the pandemic, capacity limits are in place for events depending on the level each local authority is in.

“The First Minister confirmed in her statement yesterday (Wednesday) that the whole of Scotland will move to Level 0 from Monday 19 July, which means that a standard capacity of up to 2,000 people at an outdoor event with seating will apply.

“Applications for exemptions to those limits for larger events, including football matches in stadiums, can be made to the relevant local authority.

“While Scotland is in Level 0 it will continue to be for local authorities to assess events applications for increased capacity, based on guidance, local health advice and assessment of information provided by event organisers.

“Numbers granted will need to take account of the physical distancing limit of 1m in place over this period.

“The Euro 2020 matches at Hampden were flagship events approved by the Scottish Government.

“This process is designed to enable a small number of internationally significant events to take place in 2021 with appropriate Covid-19 mitigations in place, based on extensive advance planning across multiple organisations.

“This process does not apply to regular domestic football matches.”

Celtic are also due to host 2,000 fans for their friendly against Preston on Saturday, while Motherwell will have the same attendance for the visit of Queen of the South in the Premier Sports Cup.

Rangers are hoping to secure an increase in capacity for their subsequent friendlies.

“Discussions between the club and the relevant authorities continue for the Brighton and Real Madrid games on 24 and 25 July, and we will update supporters on ticketing plans for those games in due course,” the club’s statement added.

Meanwhile, Aberdeen are hopeful of getting a “meaningful” crowd in for their Europa Conference League opener against Swedish side BK Hacken on July 22.

The Dons added they had been “heartened by the collaborative approach and positive feedback from Aberdeen City Council officers” following their application for an extended capacity.

Aberdeen are confident that council officials will back plans for 5,665 fans, which would satisfy social-distancing rules.

Chairman Dave Cormack said: “Thanks to the tireless work of our stadium manager and his operations team, we have successfully navigated a forensic process by the local authority.”

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