‘Nobody wants Scotland to lose the Euros’ - Nicola Sturgeon ‘intent’ on Hampden remaining a host venue

Tom Doyle
·3-min read
<p>Sturgeon hopes to be among the Scottish fans at Hampden this summer</p> (Getty Images)

Sturgeon hopes to be among the Scottish fans at Hampden this summer

(Getty Images)

Scotland is determined for Hampden to co-host Euro 2020, with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon "absolutely intent" on the Glasgow stadium to remain a venue amid recent doubts over the location of the tournament amid coronavirus travel restrictions.

Scotland are due to host Croatia and the Czech Republic in June among four Hampden encounters in the delayed tournament.

Uefa set an April 7 deadline for the 12 host cities to detail whether they expect to be able to stage games and whether they would be behind closed doors, full houses or something in between.

However, Glasgow is reportedly among three cities in danger of losing its hosting rights amid uncertainty over when restrictions on crowds will be eased, while England is confident of hosting more games should other countries be unable to meet Uefa's deadline.

The Scottish Government has been more cautious on detailing a route out of lockdown than some other countries. The UK Government has outlined proposals for up to 10,000 fans to be allowed into English grounds from May 17, and for full houses potentially from June 21, ahead of England's third group game at Wembley.

Speaking at the daily coronavirus briefing, Sturgeon said: "Nobody wants Scotland to 'lose the Euros' and I don't think we should be in the position now of thinking that's the case.

The First Minister at Hampden Park in 2019Getty Images
The First Minister at Hampden Park in 2019Getty Images

"There's a deadline by which all countries have to give indications to Uefa about what they think will be possible in terms of fans and fan zones. All countries are grappling with this - not just Scotland.

"We're standing here on March 5 and while we're really hopeful - and I think you're getting signs of a lot of optimism from us today - looking too far ahead is just difficult to do.

"But let me be very clear, we are absolutely intent on having the Euros, having Hampden as one of the host stadiums of the Euros.

"We have always been intent on that, let's say we're particularly keen on that now that would bring the opportunity to see Scotland play at Hampden as well.

"While nothing in a global pandemic can be certain when you're looking far into the future, I very, very, very much want, hope - and hopefully over the next few weeks get a greater degree of confidence in saying expect - to be one of many of the Tartan Army fans cheering on Scotland at Hampden."

The SNP leader added that "we've all got a part" to play in making sure games can go ahead at the national stadium by helping to reduce the spread of Covid-19.

National clinical director Jason Leitch said he knew a number of other countries were struggling to provide certainty around this issue.

Scottish Football Association chief executive Ian Maxwell was reassured by the First Minister's comments.

"The 12 host cities are going through a process with Uefa," Maxwell told Sky Sports News. "We have an early-April deadline to confirm the allowed spectator capacity.

"As we sit here right now, no host city can confirm that they can have spectators or not because this virus can change quickly and we all need to adapt to that.

"We are engaged in conversations with government on a very regular basis, we have a meeting with the cabinet secretary next week to discuss the Euros.

"It's reassuring to hear the words from the First Minister today, they are not any different to what we have heard all along from the Scottish Government."

Maxwell backed government calls for the general public to do everything possible to suppress the spread of the virus and give Hampden a better chance, but he is optimistic that the position will be improved in April.

"It would be devastating for the nation if the games weren't held at Hampden, and that's something that we need to work together to make sure we avoid," he added.

"It would be an absolute travesty if we lost games and particularly if the obvious destination for them was Wembley."

Additional reporting by PA.

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