On Saturday I attended the Ross County game at Celtic Park, I’ll also be back for the Dundee United game on 26 September. For the Bayer Leverkusen match work commitments mean I’ll be unable to attend and after that I don’t know when I’ll be able to attend a football match – in Scotland that is.
I’d like to be there for the Ferencvaros game but I don’t know if I’ll be able to, and this time it won’t be work commitments that will be the block to attending.
Prior to Saturday’s game I hadn’t been at any football game since 29 December 2019, as such the game against Ross County, poor game as it may have been to watch for many spectators, was a thrill to be at. It was a buzz just to be back, to be amongst the Celtic support and to enjoy the atmosphere during and prior to the game as myself and a good friend made our way along the Gallowgate with a few stop-offs before getting into the ground and meeting a couple of good Celts from The Celtic Star parish.
One of the topics of conversation amongst the support was the so called Covid Passports that the Scottish Government is introducing, however at the time I gave it little thought, more concerned as I was to the loss of our great modernising hope of a CEO exiting stage left after 72 days in the job.
As a key worker I’ve long been double jabbed as working with the homeless was deemed a high risk of transmission of the virus. As such I assumed getting a QR code via an NHS app would be a simple enough process to evidence my status as being fully vaccinated. The problem is however I now live in England; I’ve been vaccinated there and it appears from the information out there that even if I can evidence my vaccination my season ticket will not be enough to enter Celtic Park.
According to the BBC:
“As things stand, people vaccinated outside Scotland won’t qualify for entry to nightclubs or other venues. The Scottish Government says it is working with England, Wales and Northern Ireland to work out a solution – as well as considering how it will work for overseas visitors”.
When I received that message, from the friend I attended Saturday’s game with, it was a bit of a shock as it will be for the many Celtic fans who travel on Supporters buses and the cracking family from Carlisle, we shared a carriage and table with on our train back from Glasgow on Saturday night.
That train was full of Celtic supporters, many who would normally make the pilgrimage from down south on a regular basis, many of who will also be season ticket holders and many of whom will be hoping this issue can be rectified and quickly.
The Celtic support after all come from everywhere to see their club and if there was a lockdown situation, we’d have to simply suck that up, but this one seems like something so unnecessary. It is simple enough to produce the evidence of my vaccination in England, as I’m sure it will be for those who come from Ireland and beyond, as such it would be so frustrating and unnecessary to be denied entry to Celtic Park simply because I haven’t been vaccinated in Scotland.
Initially I thought perhaps a negative test could then suffice as a belt and braces approach, after all I had been on a train with revellers heading to TRNSMT at the weekend and they appeared to have arranged testing at pharmacists to show as evidence prior to entry to the festival.
Yet on further reading of the BBC article, it seems that is not likely either:
“Scotland’s passport scheme will not initially allow a negative test result. The Scottish government says this will be kept under review, but it doesn’t want to undermine one of the scheme’s aims – to increase vaccine uptake”.
There is of course time for some common sense and a workable solution to be found to all of this and hope springs eternal and all that.
But for now, having been away for so long and having only just been able to get back to Paradise, it’s a worry to think there could soon be another spell on the sidelines for Celtic supporters living outside of Scotland, and I can think of at least a train full of exiled Celts from Saturday night who will be feeling the same way.