Scottish football authorities: Mandatory red zones scrapped

Scottish football authorities have given the green light for the scrapping of mandatory matchday Covid-19 red zones.

The move means that clubs will be able to relax restrictions on the number of away fans being allowed to attend matches.

Celtic and Rangers have come under fire in recent weeks for refusing to give visiting clubs a ticket allocation, as they claim they have had to move their own season-ticket holders from the red zone in the main stand to the area usually reserved for away fans.

Hearts made a formal complaint to the Scottish Professional Football League about the situation as their supporters faced being locked out of their trip to Ibrox a week on Saturday, while Hibernian manager Jack Ross said last week that it was an “unhealthy” situation as his team prepared to face Rangers without any of their fans in attendance.

celtic park

The scrapping of mandatory red zones could see fans return to Celtic Park

However, the Scottish Football Association and SPFL have deemed that the red zones can be abolished with immediate effect.

A statement from the Joint Response Group, released on Tuesday, said: “Now that vaccination rates have increased considerably in the age cohort of professional footballers, with mandatory distancing removed from indoor and outdoor events by Scottish Government, and with many clubs keen to remove red zones to facilitate the attendance of more home and away supporters, the JRG considers the subject of physical distancing to be an area for clubs to determine through their own risk assessment.

“The requirement to have a red zone will no longer be mandatory but the JRG protocols are still available to use, should clubs wish to continue to implement them.”

Explaining why the red zones had remained in place until now, the statement said: “The reason such protocols have remained in place is to mitigate instances where a positive test is returned and close-contact identification is carried out by the Government-appointed Elite Sports Clinical Advisory Group.

“Given that anyone within two metres is considered by Scottish Government as a close contact, the requirement for red zones has continued within Scottish football and JRG protocols as a mitigation measure, not least to avoid widespread close contacts jeopardising clubs’ ability to fulfil fixtures.”