Celtic ask for fixture list to be released and NHS director urges patience with football return

CELTIC have asked for the SPFL to release a fixture list in order to begin preparations for the 2020/21 season. The Scottish Champions released a club statement earlier today in which they asked for a calendar to be released when possible as Peter Lawwell praised the steps that had been taken towards ensuring a safe return to football in Scotland.

The decision taken yesterday means that clubs can begin preparations with non-contact training on June 11 with a view to the season beginning in August, in line with the £125m deal broadcasting deal with Sky Sports.

The statement from the Scottish Champions was direct in their wishes for a calendar to be released when possible so that the preparations can begin.

“Celtic has been working tirelessly to do all we can to assist in achieving a return to football and we would hope the SPFL are in a position as soon as possible, to issue the fixture calendar for the forthcoming season.”

Peter Lawwell praised the decision by the Scottish Government as well as the footballing authorities to agree in principle the step-by-step plan to return to football.

“Everyone at Celtic warmly welcomes the decision in principle to a phased return to training and matches, while fully accepting that all decisions made in this regard must continue to have the safety and well- being of all concerned at their core.

“The past few months have been extremely difficult for supporters, players, staff and clubs right across the game. While we accept there will be no immediate return to normality, we are moving in the right direction and we thank our fans for their patience, understanding and support during these unprecedented times.

“I would like to also thank all our medical, safety and operations staff at Celtic and those across football for the extensive work they have done in striving for a safe return for us all. Celtic has, for some time, been engaging with relevant experts in this field – knowledge and guidance which we have shared with the joint response group, other Scottish clubs and the Scottish Government in order to support a safe, effective and quick return to football.

“Clearly, the important work we have done will be crucial as we move forward. We need to get back to football,safely, as soon as possible. That is our message and that is our aim.

“Our supporters are everything to us and our focus, ultimately, will be to do all we can to bring our fans back to matches as soon as we can. Our promise is to work as hard as we can to get our fans back to Celtic Park, to liaise closely with Government and the footballing authorities to find solutions and return to normal as soon as possible.

“The majority of leagues across Europe are back training, some already playing and many already with agreements in place to bring supporters back to matches. We can assure our fans that this will also be Celtic’s priority.

“In the meantime, we thank our fans sincerely for their continued engagement with and support of the Club. While we are still celebrating our title win, hopefully we can now look forward to the return of our fantastic 9 in a row team in the near future and look ahead to more success on the field.”

Celtic are due to begin the next season with a date set in early August; however, unless there is a vaccine or the virus has disappeared by a considerable amount, the league will begin behind closed doors. This is a horrible reality for supporters to face, especially with the club chasing 10IAR.

However, NHS Clinical Director Jason Leitch has said that supporters should NOT set the date in stone. Leitch has instead called for patience, saying that there are a number of things to be considered before football can return.

As reported by The Scottish Sun, Leitch warned that there was a long time between now and August and that a lot can change – telling supporters not to get ‘over-excited’.

“There’s a long way to go before August 1. With a fair wind, the virus behaving itself and of course the population behaving itself … so there is reward to the 2 metre rule and reward for not mixing your families, because if you do we are going to go backwards not forward.

“I think you could put August 1 in a shaded pencil, but don’t get over-excited.

“That is what we told the sporting bodies yesterday but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t prepare for that – of course we should.

“I was very impressed by the plan. I saw a very detailed plan from the rugby, horse racing and football yesterday. And it was very considered, really mature.

“The senior doctors and clinical teams of each of those sports were talking to us. John MacLean who does that for football is very mature, very smart. He has clearly been listened to.

“The planning is one thing, the go-ahead is an entirely different thing. Of course they should plan. I was impressed with their plan, as was Mr Fitzpatrick but we did not give them a go ahead.

“We told them this is phase 1, two households can train, just like two households can go to the botanical gardens. But you can’t do whole team training at Hampden on Phase 1. What you can do is physically distanced training wherever you like.”

Whilst Leitch isn’t saying that the date is optimistic, he is urging the population to continue following advice in order to safeguard the return. The message is to keep abiding by the rules set out and hopefully supporters will be able to get back into grounds as soon as it is safe to do so.

News from China today said that a virus was 99% likely to work which gives the general public and supporters an enormous boost. It is likely that a vaccine would be needed before the stadiums can return to capacity.


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About Author

Born just as Celtic were stopping the Ten, Lubo98 follows Celtic home and away and helps run his local Celtic Supporters Club. He goes to all the games and is a Law Graduate. Has a particular fondness for Tom Rogic among the current Celts and both Lubo and Henrik form his earliest Celtic memories.

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