Speaking in a video published by the SFA’s Twitter account, Scottish Government Health department official, Jason Leitch, has sent an appeal to all players and all clubs, including Rangers, to reinforce the ‘stay at home’ message.
On Monday evening, Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, addressed the nation, urging the population to redouble their efforts amidst the increasing threat from Covid-19.
Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, then echoed Johnson’s calls, with people only now allowed to leave their homes for essential work, shopping or exercise for an initial period of three weeks.
It’s a message many will have heard loud and clear, but others will likely try to flaunt the rules. That’s where role models, such as players, become important.
“Many of you have large followings,” said National Clinical Director, Leitch, when addressing what individual footballers could do to help. “Both locally and nationally, you are influencers.”
“You’re way more influential than the likes of me, so I need you to take that message out to those who will listen to you. We can’t have gatherings in the park, we can’t have kids meeting in folks’ houses because the virus will spread and people will lose their lives.”
“I think clubs are similar,” he continued. “Clubs have to be really responsible, you’ve got a big influence, big fan bases, and big influence in your local communities.
“Football clubs all over the country step up to whatever it is we ask them to do, whether it’s charitable work or community-based work – well there is no greater time than now for clubs to do that.”
— Scottish FA (@ScottishFA) March 24, 2020
These are strong words from Leitch as the severity of the problem facing the UK is rammed home.
There’s no doubt that while Scottish football as a whole has a part to play, Rangers and Celtic dwarf every other club in terms of reach and influence.
Not only are average attendances at Ibrox over ten times what most other clubs can attract, but the Gers also have over half a million followers on Twitter.
As alluded to by Leitch, individual players hold plenty of sway too, with captain James Tavernier alone having just shy of 200,000 Twitter followers.
Steven Gerrard and several players have already raised awareness about the importance of staying at home amidst the outbreak, and perhaps, after this appeal, we’ll see more following suit over the coming days.