Prof Leitch: politicians are reason you ‘can’t go to Celtic Park’


I listened to a Scottish Rugby podcast with Jason Leitch, recorded earlier this week, where they discussed the reasons that appear to lie behind why the Scottish Government in their treatment of football is out of step with European countries, like Germany, France, Netherlands and others, but in-step with the Westminster Government.

Professor Leitch rhetorically posed the question you and I have discussed recently, “Why can I go to the pub and I can’t go to Celtic Park.”  Through analogy, he explained that the Government were able to permit some activities, not all.  That has never been in dispute, during a pandemic, you cannot allow all activities.

What has not previously been confirmed is why the Scottish Government has shadowed the (frankly abysmal) pandemic response of Boris Johnson’s Westminster government, instead of acknowledging the clear and undisputed scientific evidence that drives public policy among our European peers.  Professor Leitch placed responsibility for this squarely with his political masters:

“How you then make choices between sport, versus retail, versus hospitality; that comes down to decision making, by politicians, taking the best advice they can from the financial people, the public health people, the social policy people and making choices.”

Clearly the Scottish Government listens to financial, public health and social policy people before making decisions, so do Boris Johnson and Donald Trump, this allows them to act sincere, it does not make them any good.  But when Europe takes one path, which is consistent with science, and Scotland follows Westminster, which has led to some of the highest rates of mortality in the world in both Scotland and the UK as a whole, we are entitled to ask, what is going on?

They do not have a different virus in Dortmund than we have in Glasgow.  In both places, it spreads significantly more indoors than out.  It is inhibited by adherence to clear and monitored hygiene and distancing rules, like those in place at football games across the Continent, and it spreads where consistent enforcement of these rules is unmonitored – like pubs.  The difference is the politicians, not the virus.

I know this is ‘just’ football, and our consequences are nothing like the care homes fiasco, but government policy needs to shape up pandemic response in all areas.  It is not easy, but if decisions are too onerous for people in Edinburgh to get their heads around, stop following a clown in London and watch what is happening in Europe: fewer deaths, fewer infections, industry specific responses.

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  1. I don’t believe the Scottish government will take any action to open up unless Westminster jumps first. It’s a political decision to protect their back. The idea politics isn’t involved here is naive.

  2. At this stage I’m not sure who to believe about what is best to do, other than a good test, trace and isolate regime. That coupled with good compliance on social distancing, cough etiquette, face coverings and hand washing does seem to mitigate against widespread infection. However, the reality is we need to live with this virus and each country, Government have done what they think is best, with a few exceptions I think most are. I don’t think death rates are comparable between countries or Covid positive rates either as there is widely different ways as to how these are counted and accredited. I know here in Ireland we are counting every death with a positive Covid test as being FROM Covid, this clearly is wrong. This fact was recently confirmed by one of our leading doctors at an Oireachtas hearing. For example if I fall off a roof and on entering hospital I’m tested (happens to all people who are admitted routinely) and subsequently die then I am counted as having ‘died’ from Covid and am counted in the Covid ‘death’ stats, that’s mad. The doctor did say that that death would be removed from the stats once the Coroner’s hearing had taken place, but that could be months or even years later. We constantly get a daily list of those having tested positive (the asymptomatic rates are nearing 90%), those hospitalised with Covid and those who have ‘died’ because of Covid. Numerous politician and journalists have asked the HSE (the health authority here) for clarification; are people being hospitalised BECAUSE of Covid or attending hospital for whatever reason and then testing positive for Covid? We await the response. It is a difficult balancing act between living our lives with the virus and trying to protect those who need protected and ensuring our health system doesn’t collapse. The difficulty in all this is no matter how devastating this virus is the untold damage being done to people whose physical and mental health is suffering greatly. It was confirmed in Donegal that there has been a 70% drop in cancer screenings this year, that is quite literally a disaster waiting to happen. Stay safe and keep supporting each other and the ‘Tic!

  3. Glasgow live has just reported that 365 house parties were reported last week.



    Give the new prohibition rules and the game on the 17th. How many ?


    I’m in no way condoning it, but it is to be expected and this should have been equated.



    Police have stated that there will be increased patrols to enforce the rules.

  4. Such is the divisive nature of current politics that if you dare question the SNP policy on this then you are against everything they stand for and a pro unionist. I am as ardent an Independence voter than the next person.



    However, they got it wrong on OBAF and they have gotten it wrong big time on this pandemic. If you seriously believe the SNP Govt have handled this brilliantly then you are on cloud cukooland.



    If you believe we shouldn’t look elsewhere to see how much better they have done with lesser resources then you are misguided in your view.



    And if you think football will set everything back months then you clearly are listening to a select band of experts who admit that current restrictions are not based on an ‘exact science’. As such, anything goes in that case. and with no scientific evidence then it is clear communities will suffer big time as small businesses and local eateries close up shop and the same will happen with football unless someone makes a stand soon.

  5. First of all, my sincere wishes that Timmy 7 and his partner get through this serious medical condition safely. No one is to blemae for catching Covid when they have taken all reasonable precautions



    Secondly, the accusation that you care less about the Covid pandemic if you are in favour of small scale attendance at football matches than if you are against it, will not stand much scrutiny. It is baed on a plea to emotion only, and that emotion is a false one.



    I feel more at risk in going to my necessary duties in food shopping, attending my workplace as I cannot keep doing all work safely from home, risking a cafe or resturant, and even in walking the streets for exercise, especially around times when school pupils are exiting or entering, than I would in going to CP in a crowd of a couple of thousand.



    Until we can readily identify which of us are asymptomatic carriers or until we identify a vaccine that is tested and works, these risks are going to be managed well, indifferently or badly by various governments.



    We, in Scotland are not amongst the governments that are doing well. We may take some justified satis faction in not being as bad as Trump, Bolsinaro, or that Belarussian eejit, but when we slip below the efforts of the incompetent Boris, questions should be asked.



    It is not ALL the fault of Nicola and/or the SNP; far from it.



    But they are a major part of the governmental approaches and they have made mistakes including, way down the list, its handling of football matters.

  6. I suspect what riles a lot of posters is phrases such as “you and I have discussed recently” which have appeared in the last two headers on this subject. I enjoy reading these articles, but I increasingly wonder who the writer is really addressing. I haven’t seen any dialogue with the posters, I’ve seen the same argument presented multiple times without any added content or response to sensible and relevant challenges in the discussions which follow.



    Regarding the measures at the governments disposal they’ll generally be considering the infection risk opening any industry presents, the likelihood of firms in an industry going to the wall, and the number of people those firms employ. The first point has been discussed to death and I have nothing to add.



    On the second point, it’s difficult to create a case for football. Spurs gratefully took a 175m covid loan from govt, then signed one of the highest paid players on the planet (state aid, anyone?). Arsenal regretfully sacked Gunnersauras, then signed Partey for 45m. Even Celtic laid out around 13m at the height of the pandemic. It would be hard to explain the financial folly if they were to later claim poverty. On the third point, football also has a relatively high revenue to employment ratio, they employ a relatively small number of people for the turnover of the organisation. The social impact of football clubs going under just isn’t the same as, perhaps, the hospitality sector.



    It’s interesting that the example of Germany is provided. They may have the same virus, but Germany continue to have a very different covid experience to the UK. You can (and have) discussed at great length the reasons, but both Germany and the UK have to deal with their respective realities.



    Germany has a population around 23% larger than UK. In terms of demographics, cultural factors, climate etc they’re largely similar. However Germany has a cases per 1m figure which is around 55% lower than the UK, and deaths per 1m are around 70% lower. This provides them with a little more latitude (and probably social pressure) to turn the dials a little more on what cultural activities they can and can’t open.

  7. The Blogger Formerly Known As GM on

    Waisting your breath, Paul. Many on here are happy for the government to run their lives. The incompetence will only hit home when they lose their job or their business goes down the pan.




    Not good news as you say you are young enough and good decision regarding your parents.



    Hope you and your wife are back to normal soon.




    ‘ small scale attendance at football matches……………. going to CP in a crowd of a couple of thousand.’







    The goal isn’t to have a couple of thousand through the doors, it’s to have 20,000+.



    If the government said 2,000 were allowed but absolutely no more until the pandemic is over Celtic would in all probability just carry on without spectators.

  10. Melbourne Mick on




    Right now I’d love to see three ghuys a tricolour and a dug


    Those empty terraces do my head in.


    Football without fans, nah Disny work.


    H.H. Mick

  11. 365 house parties in Glasgow last week.Close the Pubs at 10,means they will just all go to each others houses and drink after 10.Just a snapshot,but can some expert on here tell me HTF can that be any governments fault.


    We live in an age of entitlement.Everything is someone else’s fault.When Covid first surfaced,we managed to get it under decent control.The measures had to be very Draconian,but it was new to everyone,but to a good extent ,they worked.Not so now.The publics ability to stick with it,has gone.This is the problem.


    Putting up other countries,and using them as an example,is a nonsense.The Congo,for Gods sake.What miraculous way has that country got to combat Covid.None.Some countries,God knows how,are not as susceptible,that is all you can take from that.

  12. PeterLatchfordsBelly on

    Again, totally agree. Politics is all about choices, generally trade offs between rotten choices. But that’s what you sign up to if you take the gig. Let’s say you’re Jeane Freeman in March and decide that the potential risk of hospital meltdown warrants mass discharge to care homes without negative tests. She’ll be accountable for that particular call at the Public Inquiry to come, unless she is successful in her attempts to shift blame to the care homes themselves.



    Scotland is the 3rd worst performing country in Europe, behind England and Spain. Fact. In such a context if you can persuade the population to benchmark your performance only against the dunderhead regime of idiots down south you’re onto a winner.

  13. Anyway no more Covid guff from me.Everywhere you go,someone has the answer.I will leave it up to them.

  14. Melbourne Mick on




    Thank feck for that , lets get on to the fitty noo.


    How many of our Bhoys have Covid?


    OH ! wait.


    H.H. Mick

  15. Oddly enough, the last time I met the First Minister was in a pub!



    It was not planned.



    I am not party political




    The last time I met a first minister was at a football match



    Met hunners of priests at Parkheid over the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s

  17. The Battered Bunnet on

    While prevalence remained low there was (I think) a good argument to permit fans at lower league venues at around 10% of stadium capacity, factored for individual site considerations.



    Lower league clubs rely to a near exclusive extent on gate income, and closed gates means closed doors in due course. Local clubs provide important community benefits and preventing their demise is important to each community.



    Equally, most have an average attendance of less than 20% of their capacity, raising the possibility of relatively ordinary sized crowds in safely distanced outdoors stadiums providing lifeline income for the many clubs in the lower and junior leagues.



    Someone helpfully put the numbers up for each lower league team Here



    For top league clubs with large season ticket income and TV fees, the circumstances are entirely different. Firstly, these clubs have (or ought to have) sufficient income from existing sources to adapt budgets and operations to suit the new circumstances.



    Secondly, many of them are providing virtual season tickets for home matches, allowing fans to see home matches on TV. Simultaneously adapting the stadium and staffing the ground to allow a small number of fans to attend in person would cost more money than it could ever generate in income.



    Thirdly, the numbers involved – tens of thousands rather than tens of hundreds increases infection risk at key points to, in and from the stadium.



    In short, for top league clubs the proposal is to lose money while increasing community infection risk. Why bother.



    Data today from the REACT survey at Imperial College shows that of the 175,000 people tested in a random sample across England up to 5th October, 0.6% of them were positive for Coronavirus. That number is a week out of date, and the expectation is that around 1% of the population is currently infected/infectious.



    In a short number of weeks – unless there are effective measures introduced – something in the order of one person in 25 will be infected.



    Anyone who wants to plant their standard on the hill of permitting fans at matches is entitled to do so, but it’s a forlorn gesture. It’s simply not going to happen without a population health solution.



    In the meantime, please stay safe. Be safe. You know the routine well enough by now: avoid indoor public spaces, crowds, physical contact. Stay oot each other’s hooses. Don’t share cars. Practice good hygiene.



    This is not a drill.

  18. TBB,



    Again thanks for your magnificent post yesterday.



    Remember the official figures only account for those who have been tested.



    If I may, I’ll use myself as an example.:-


    I only got tested because everyone else on my flight had been tested after a Covid 19 outbreak.


    I had no intention of going for a test and was absolutely gobsmacked when it came back positive.



    How many more asymptomatic people are in our society that the official figures aren’t picking up.?



    Provided the most vulnerable were protected; Could 1/25 of persons infected with little or no symptoms be a ” blessing in disguise ” and help us back to normality?



    I have learned so much from yourself compared to official sources.



    Thanks again and Cheers.

  19. TBB


    Another fine post.



    To give a personal example:


    When I go to watch Arbroath play, I have a ten minute walk from my house to the ground and I can watch the game in splendid isolation from the `terraces`.



    When I go to see Celtic, I travel on a busy Supporters Bus then watch the game from my seat whilst in physical contact with those next to me.


    Another scenario would be to drive to Glasgow,park near the Ground and walk to the Park then sit in structured isolation.


    The final example MIGHT be safely possible but I cannot imagine it would be a very enjoyable Match Day Experience.

  20. As from 6pm this evening,as well as pubs ,all these off licenses and the big stores should all refrain from selling alcohol,Sometimes I wonder who is the law in this Country

  21. just to give an example of how another country dealt with covid19 :-



    I work in Norway and have done for a while and when in early March covid


    seemed to be getting out of control Norway introduced a quarantine which


    I had to do 14 days quarantine in Oslo after a weekend in Glasgow at the start


    of March.



    By the middle of March Norway closed several airports and the ones remaining open


    only allowed essential travel meaning no international flights allowed.



    Even now where international flights are allowed almost everyone apart from a very


    few select countries need to quarantine for 10 days



    In my mind they prevented the virus reaching the country from other countries and continue


    to do so by the 10 day quarantine.



    In the UK we had a blanket lockdown from the middle of March but still allowed international


    flights into the country from almost anywhere and having checked for example Heathrow they


    were letting flights in from USA, Beijing, Milan , Tokyo etc and with no checks or quarantine


    until after June where they decided that this was needed but this was too late as I saw an


    estimate of over 2 million travellers going through our airports unchecked and without quarantine


    till June.



    All these changing restrictions are now a result of the inaction in the first 3 months by UK and Scottish


    governements because the virsu was allowed to enter the country unchecked and now the governement


    hasnt a clue how to deal with it



    for the record Norway has a total of 275 dead total



    The uk has more than 41000 bearing in mind the governernment changed the rules about


    with totals now reflecting death 28 days after positive test when in fact the figure is probably


    much higher



    As far as I am concerned the UK and Scotland governements response has been atrocious and


    has cost 40000 lives

  22. The Battered Bunnet on




    Thanks for your kind words.



    “Provided the most vulnerable were protected; Could 1/25 of persons infected with little or no symptoms be a ” blessing in disguise ” and help us back to normality?”



    If we get to that level of prevalence we’ll need carts for our corpses for Christmas.



    As I tried to explain in my hurried scribble yesterday, absent a vaccine the virus will progress through the population as quickly or slowly as we allow it. The number of folk getting sick with, dying from or unaffected by the infection scales according to observed ratios. You can’t have asymptomatics without the corollary number of ICU cases and deaths.



    The faster it goes, the more people will become sick at once, and the more people will die not just from the illness, but for the lack of hospital treatment.



    The numbers involved evoke the holocaust.



    The ‘first wave’ in the UK gave immunity to around 8% of the population at the cost of around 50,000 people.



    You need nine or ten such waves to reach herd immunity for Covid-19 without a vaccine. If you go for it all at once you can expect many more unnecessary deaths.



    Solving the health problem is incredibly complex, but based on what we’ve learned so far, the arithmetic of it all is very straightforward. And utterly ghastly.

  23. Not getting back into it,but I did mention the new threat from Covid,known now as “Long Covid”.Reports now stating that we now have in the UK,possibly hundreds of thousands,who have taken Covid,even very mild symptoms,who are now facing medical ailments,which make normal life virtually impossible.Lack of energy,lack of breath,feeling really ill,etc.10 minutes walking so exhausting it takes days to recover.

  24. The Battered Bunnet on




    Yip, and that doesn’t include the very many who suffer consequent lung fibrosis, myocarditis or other chronic organ/cognitive damage.

  25. Greenpinata – I dont think the police have any powers to enforce any guidelines that they Government are recommending as they are guidelines.



    Surely Cheatin Beaton is not refereeing us against his beloved Huns after the last game he done between the 2.



    D :)

  26. The Battered Bunnet on

    Oh dear. It appears as though the “Great Barrington Declaration” has been peer reviewed and found wanting…



    Still, it served its purpose considering the prominence it was given across mainstream media outlets.



    From Sky News (although the Twitter threads are more humorous)






    A widely-circulated open letter calling on governments to pursue herd immunity is counting homeopaths, therapists and fake names among its “medical” signatories, leading to accusations that it falsely represents scientific support for the controversial position.



    The Great Barrington Declaration, a letter organised by prominent advocates of herd immunity, claims to have been signed by more than 15,000 scientists and medical practitioners, as well as more than 150,000 members of the general public.



    Yet Sky News found dozens of fake names on the list of medical signatories, which anyone can add to if they tick a box and enter a name. These included Dr. I.P. Freely, Dr. Person Fakename and Dr. Johnny Bananas, who listed himself as a “Dr of Hard Sums”.



    One medical professional on the list gives his name as Dr Harold Shipman, a general practitioner in the United Kingdom.



    Other famous names included Dominic Cummings, who is described as “PhD Durham Univercity”.



    Sky News also found 18 self-declared homeopaths listed on the open letter as medical practitioners, despite the fact that homeopathy has no scientific underpinning or clinical evidence to support its use.



    In addition, the letter has been signed by well over 100 therapists, including massage therapists, hypnotherapists, psychotherapists and one Mongolian Khöömii Singer who describes himself as a “therapeutic sound practitioner”.

  27. Celtic v Them’s


    Scottish Premiership


    17/10/2020 12:30pm Celtic Park


    Referee:John Beaton




    Graeme Stewart




    David Roome


    Fourth Official


    Don Robertson

  28. The difference between having Beaton as Referee and any other Scottish Official is simply the blatant nature of the appointment.


    Having said that, our players seem to get on ok with Bobby Madhun.

  29. RC


    I wondered why the odds on Sevco had shortened. I see now that it was after the officials were announced :-))

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