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Request for more than 500 fans for Scottish Cup final submitted

Request for more than 500 fans for Scottish Cup final submitted
© Reuters
Supporters were set to be locked out despite a relaxation of Covid restrictions.

A request has been submitted for more than 500 fans to attend the Scottish Cup final after UEFA opened the doors to Hampden.

Fans were set to be locked out despite a relaxation of Covid restrictions because the Scottish Football Association will hand over the Euro 2020 host stadium to UEFA for alterations before the May 22 clash.

But the European governing body agreed to an SFA request to facilitate some supporters for the encounter between Hibernian and Betfred Cup winners St Johnstone.

A spokesperson said: "We confirm that UEFA has been able to find a solution with the Scottish FA to allow a limited number of spectators for the Scottish Cup final."

Scottish Government rules will allow crowds of 500 at outdoor events from next Monday but events organisers can apply to the local authority to host bigger attendances.

An SFA statement read: "We have now made a submission to Scottish Government for permission to increase the number of spectators from the maximum 500 permitted under Level 2 restrictions.

"We are grateful to UEFA for removing the condition that required the final to be played behind closed doors, after the postponement of the tie from May 8 to 22 due to the suspension of football during the second wave of the pandemic.

"We are pleased that UEFA have now agreed to a proposed solution prior to Hampden Park hosting four matches, each in front of 12,000 supporters, as part of UEFA Euro 2020.

"We await a positive response from the Scottish Government and will communicate final confirmation of maximum supporter numbers with Hibernian and St Johnstone as soon as possible to enable ticket sales to proceed."

Callum Davidson
Callum Davidson at an empty Hampden for the semi-final (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Speaking before UEFA agreed to the SFA's request, St Johnstone manager Callum Davidson said: "It's great from the SFA, obviously they are working really hard to get supporters in.

"Obviously we would like to play at Hampden and get fans in the stadium. It's great news, although our record has been pretty good with no fans at the stadium.

"The sooner we can get it done and make sure the fans stay safe, the players will really appreciate that.

"It's something our fans don't really see very often. We have been there once already in a final with nobody there. It would be fantastic for any number.

"Players for me have performed really well with no fans but it helps when there are supporters in the stadium. So get them through the door as soon as we can do it safely."

Aberdeen had offered to stage the final but the game is heavily associated with the national stadium, although Saints won their only Scottish Cup at Celtic Park.

Speaking before the news, Hibs head coach Jack Ross said: "Speaking purely personally, that magic of winning the cup at Hampden still remains for me.

"I grew up with Scottish Cup final day being a massive part of my childhood. It was a huge part of my ambitions as a player.

"When you dream of lifting the cup, it's always within the national stadium – not anywhere else.

"I know it looks different from (how) it did in the 80s and 90s but it's still the same stadium so for me, I'd always choose to do it at Hampden.

"For both teams involved in the final, if they've got any supporters in any numbers within the stadium then undoubtedly it adds to the occasion."

The bulk of Scotland's move to Level 2 restrictions means that the SPFL play-off finals can all take place in front of fans and there are hopes of further relaxations in time for next season.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: "We will continue to review the rules on events in consultation with the events sector and updated guidance may well be published during the next three weeks.

"We will be reviewing the guidelines on physical distancing and if it is possible over the next few weeks to relax the current rules, we will do so."

Meanwhile, Motherwell have offered fans a free season ticket if they bought one for the 2020-21 campaign, and pledged refunds for anyone who needs one.

A club statement read: "We will forever be grateful for your decision to spend money last year when there was no certainty over what would happen next.

"We are incredibly appreciative, considering many of you will have been going through difficult times, worrying about your health, your family and perhaps even your job.

"We want to repay your faith by welcoming you back to Fir Park at no extra cost."

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General view of Aberdeen's Pittodrie Stadium from 2008
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