Celtic-Rangers derby should go ahead despite house party fears – Nicola Sturgeon

James Tavernier and Callum McGregor
Rangers and Celtic last met in December

The first Old Firm derby of the season will go ahead, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon says, despite her fears over house parties amid pub closures.

Celtic are scheduled to host Glasgow rivals Rangers on 17 October in the Scottish Premiership.

But new restrictions in the central belt mean fans will not be able to watch the match in licensed premises.

“I want these things to go ahead and there’s certainly no plans as far as I’m aware to cancel,” Sturgeon said.

“It wouldn’t be my decision whether the Old Firm game is cancelled or not – I certainly have had no discussion about cancelling the Old Firm game. It’s good that folk who can’t be in the pub and can’t be having house parties can at least watch their football team on the telly.”

Sturgeon on Wednesday announced the closure of all licensed premises in the central belt from Friday at 18:00 BST for 16 days, while those outside of the central belt will be barred from selling alcohol and only able to open between 06:00 and 18:00.

She went on to say that she “can’t babysit” the entire country, appealing to the “sense of individual responsibility” of Scots to ensure they act responsibly.

Sturgeon also urged fans not to host or go to gatherings in people’s homes to watch the game.

“Please don’t have a house party just because you can’t go to the pub,” she said. “We’re all having to live with really difficult restrictions right now to keep each other safe and to try to avoid people becoming ill and dying.

“We’re all having to make sacrifices right now – they’re horrible, they get more horrible with every day that passes – but don’t forget why. Because if we don’t make these sacrifices right now, more people will get Covid, more people will get ill from it and more people will die.”

Pubs closed on Thursday evening before the conclusion of Scotland’s Euro 2020 play-off semi-final against Israel and a video circulated on social media of a group of football fans gathering outside a pub in Glasgow to watch the final moments of the penalty shootout.

The first minister said “it shouldn’t” have happened but pointed out that “it’s slightly less risky if people are outside than inside, but you shouldn’t be in crowded places”.

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