Scottish Premiership clubs confident friendly dispensation will be given by government

First minister Nicola Sturgeon announced live events outdoors with physical distancing can resume not before July 31, which opens the door to the possibility of supporters returning to stadia in limited numbers, with social distancing measures in place.

Rangers vs Celtic League Cup final

Scottish Premiership clubs are confident authorities will grant them special dispensation to play friendlies this weekend following the government’s latest lockdown update.

First minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed Scotland is moving to Phase 3 of the path out of lockdown during Thursday's briefing, which means organised outdoor contact sports can resume from Monday, July 13.

This ruling means that, as it stands, no pre-season friendlies are allowed to take place in Scotland this weekend.

The SPFL and SFA are expected to make a joint announcement regarding the situation on Thursday afternoon.

Most Scottish Premiership clubs have games arranged against one another over the weekend. Rangers and Hamilton Accies have a game lined up for Friday, while Hibernian and St Mirren are hoping to play each other at Hibs' East Mains training ground in East Lothian on Saturday.

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New Dundee United manager Micky Mellon says he is delighted to be returning home to Scotland for his first managerial job in Scottish football

Clubs are now awaiting guidance from the SPFL, Scottish FA and Scottish Government to see if special dispensation will be granted for them to play the friendlies.

Celtic have travelled to Loughborough for a training camp held within a "bio-secure bubble" this week and are due to fly to France next week for pre-season games against Nice, Lyon and PSG. Rangers are also planning to head to France to face Lyon and Nice.

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On Wednesday the first minister included France on a list of Scottish air bridges, meaning the 14-day quarantine restriction will be lifted on July 10 for people returning or visiting from the country.

Callum McGregor and James Forrest are pictured as Celtic's players resume training in small groups
Image: Callum McGregor and James Forrest in Celtic training

The first minister also announced live events outdoors with physical distancing can resume not before July 31, which opens the door to the possibility of supporters returning to stadia in limited numbers, with social distancing measures in place.

The Scottish Premiership season is due to start on August 1.

Test events would need to take place before any prospect of fans returning to grounds for competitive matches. The Scottish Rugby Union (SRU) and Celtic have held talks with the Scottish Government about such a scenario.

The SRU are in discussions with the Scottish Government about holding a pilot event on August 22 at Murrayfield - the weekend when the PRO14 is provisionally planning to resume.

Edinburgh and Glasgow could meet over consecutive weekends as part of the PRO14's plan to restart, meaning this pilot event, if it goes ahead, could have supporters present.

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