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Scottish football, rugby hoping to move closer to return

Scottish football, rugby hoping to move closer to return
© Reuters
Golf, tennis, bowls and fishing will be allowed to restart from Friday

Scottish football and rugby bosses will look for signs of encouragement from Government officials on Friday after the first sports were given approval to return in an easing of the lockdown.

Some non-contact outdoor leisure activities such as golf, tennis, bowls and fishing will be allowed to restart from Friday following an announcement from First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

One-to-one coaching for athletes is also allowed if it is outside and physical distancing is maintained.

Group training is still forbidden with all football activity in Scotland previously suspended until June 10.

That deadline is likely to be extended by at least a week but the Scottish Football Association, along with its league counterpart and the Scottish Rugby Union, will continue their quest to convince the Government of the strength of their preparation and plans for a return to action in the coming months.

Representatives of each body will hold talks with Sports Minister Joe Fitzpatrick and Professor Jason Leitch, Scotland's national clinical director.

The Scottish Professional Football League has publicly stated a desire to start next season with the Betfred Cup in July, although that is all but certain not to happen, especially given the heightened problems with Covid-19 testing and lack of gate income for lower-league teams.

However, the SPFL has targeted kicking off the Premiership as planned in early August and SFA chief executive Ian Maxwell stated at the weekend that a return to action was likely during that month.

The sports that can return have all published social-distancing and safety guidelines to help participants.

A Scottish Golf statement read: "We know that this confirmation will be well received by all of our members and will have a positive impact on the physical and mental health of golfers across Scotland in the days and weeks ahead.

"We hope everyone enjoys returning to the fairways and would encourage all golfers to familiarise themselves with the current guidance to ensure we can all return to playing the game safely."

There was more good news for golf fans when the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open was rescheduled for October 8-11, at the Renaissance Club in North Berwick.

The event was originally meant to be held in July, in the week before the now cancelled Open.

Racing fans have also been given dates for their diary with a resumption planned for Ayr on June 22.

Scottish Racing manager Delly Innes said: "The public can have confidence in our ability to race behind closed doors as safely as possible when the Government allows more industries back to work.

"As a highly regulated industry we have considerable experience of keeping any potential health and safety risks to an absolute minimum.

"We are working with Public Health officials to protect those coming back to work, the local communities in which race meetings take place and the wider public, against the risk of transmission of Covid-19.

"We are fully prepared to stage race meetings in a strictly controlled environment which fully comply with all the requirements of governmental and racing industry bodies, once they decide the time is right to resume racing."

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