CELTIC fans are still hopeful of getting the opportunity of watching their heroes live in action this season – in the Scottish Cup Final.
The SFA and the Scottish Government may be forced into a rethink after recent lockdown restrictions were eased.
The Hoops go to Ibrox on Sunday afternoon hoping to win in an attempt to extend their record-breaking sequence to a remarkable fifth successive triumph.
At the moment, the showpiece Cup Final is due to be played at a deserted Hampden May 22. The stadium will be handed over to UEFA eight days earlier as the European bosses prepare for the delayed Euro 2020 Championships. This means there is no chance of fans being allowed in on the big day.
However, the planned lifting of curtailments means club football is in line to be given the green light to reopen its gates a month ahead of schedule, with 12,000 fans expected to be at the national stadium for Scotland’s curtain-raiser against the Czech Republic on Monday, June 14. Steve Clarke’s side are also due to face Croatia at the venue the following Tuesday where supporters will also be allowed admittance.
SILENCE IS GOLDEN…Callum McGregor and Scott Brown with the Scottish Cup at an empty Hampden on December 20.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s road map out of lockdown has helped accelerate plans for domestic football to begin to return to normal. All of Scotland is expected to be placed on level two by Monday May 17 and the ground restrictions could be partially lifted in time to let followers in for the end-of-season top-flight play-offs.
The first game will take place on May 19 – three days before the Cup Final. Promotion and relegation issues are being drawn up to allow around 2,000 supporters into both legs of the play-off double-header, according to a report in the Daily Record.
The prospect of fans being allowed back next month could go some way to convincing the SFA to switch the Cup Final away from Hampden. Three obvious choices are Celtic Park, Ibrox or Murrayfield, the home of Scottish Rugby.
With John Kennedy and Steven Gerrard’s teams going head-to-head this weekend in their fourth round meeting which will be played to a conclusion on the day, it will mean one of the venues would be available as a neutral ground.
It would, of course, mean the Hampden and Holyrood rulers performing a massive u-turn with common sense coming into play.
We can only hope Celtic will be parading silverware in front of some of their fans at Ibrox in May!