Edinburgh South MP Ian Murray has called for this weekend’s Premiership fixture between Rangers and Celtic to be postponed on public health grounds, as quoted by Edinburgh Live.
The first Old Firm of 2020 is set to kick off at 12:30pm at Parkhead on Saturday afternoon but for the first time ever, there will be no fans in attendance.
That hasn’t stopped politicians voicing concerns about the potential for fans to break current restrictions, though.
The Scottish Green Party and the First Minister called on Sky Sports to make the game free to watch on TV to reduce the motivation for fans to gather in households or travel to England to watch the match in pubs [Scottish Sun].
Yet, Edinburgh South MP Ian Murray believes that Nicola Sturgeon should be postponing the fixture rather than making pleas to broadcasters.
“It should be postponed rather than the First Minister saying she is concerned that it might spread Covid; that she’s concerned that it might tempt people to break the strict rules that are in place particularly across the central belt,” he said, as quoted by Edinburgh Live. “We are right in the height of a second wave. We’ve got businesses on the verge of collapse. If there’s a public health issue it should be postponed, potentially even until people can go back into stadiums.”
“Most reasonable people will say if there is a threat to public health it should be postponed.
“I just think it’s a ridiculous mix of priorities when business owners are worried about whether or not they can survive and people are fighting to keep their jobs, or are losing their jobs, for this to be a priority.”
Edinburgh South MP Murray calls for Rangers vs Celtic postponement – Verdict
The Scottish government have known the date set for this match for some time and with less than 24 hours to go until kick-off, the chances of a postponement are minuscule.
Of course, if it was guaranteed that the match would bring a substantial negative impact on public health, a postponement would be justified.
But everyone is dealing in hypotheticals right now and the Government have shown a level of trust that the vast majority of supporters will stick to the current guidelines.
Given his background in the game, it’s surprising that Murray has weighed in so heavily on the matter when he must know the impact that cancelling all Old Firm fixtures until fans are allowed back in grounds would have on the already chaotic 2020/21 calendar.
He points to businesses on the brink of collapse but Scottish football and even Glasgow’s big two are not immune to the problems faced in other sectors and the derby going ahead is pivotal if the current season is to be played in its entirety.