Murrayfield football proposal 'makes perfect sense' - professor Leitch

Murrayfield Stadium
Scottish Rugby has offered Murrayfield as a "bio safe" stadium for Hearts and Hibs

Scottish Rugby's proposal to make Murrayfield a "bio safe" stadium that hosts football matches "makes perfect sense," says Professor Jason Leitch.

The Scottish Premiership hopes to resume games in August behind closed doors, with partial crowds potentially allowed before the end of the year.

Hearts and Hibernian have been offered the use of 67,000-capacity Murrayfield next season by Scottish Rugby.

"I think it's an excellent idea," national clinical director Leitch said.

"The good thing about Murrayfield is it's big, its accesses are big and you don't go indoors to get to your seat.

"You move from the outside to your seat and you're still in the fresh air. All of that is good."

Speaking on BBC Scotland's Off the Ball, Leitch added: "The more that can happen outdoors and the easier the access is for people to come with their family, whether that's in their car or by walking, the better.

"You're looking at probably an empty row between everybody and then a couple of empty seats between people from different households. If you go as a family of four you can sit together."

While that could allow Hibs and Hearts to have 10,000-15,000 fans at Murrayfield, there is no prospect of hospitality being available to fans.

"That's one of the real challenges with sport," said Professor Leitch. "Hospitality rooms in sealed chambers, that's more difficult and we won't be allowing that until the physical distancing is gone. That's phase four."

John MacLean, the Scottish Football Association's doctor, told BBC Scotland that the "bio-secure environment" would apply first to training grounds and then to stadiums.

He told Sportsound on Saturday that the SFA had given "good advice to clubs on how to do that".

Dr MacLean added: "It will be a big challenge for our Premiership clubs. And then as we look down leagues towards part-time players that challenge becomes even greater, especially if clubs don't have their own training ground and are using local authority facilities, which at the moment aren't open.

"It's difficult to see them getting back to meaningful training in the near future."

'No special privileges for sport'

Aberdeen players train
Only two players, or one coach and one player, will be able to train together when training resumes on 11 June

Professor Leitch, meanwhile, has warned that participants in sport must adhere to the same phase one guidelines as the entire population.

Premiership clubs can resume limited training in the coming week, with 1 August the best-case scenario for games being played behind closed doors.

"There are no special privileges for elite sport in phase one," he added.

"The only thing they are allowed to do is the same as the rest of us. In phase one, you can have two households meeting up outdoors.

"If you want to use up your household allocation, you can have a coach and a player or two players. They've got to physically distance, they've got to wash their hands, physically distance and they can't go indoors.

"We've got to be so cautious. You can see things beginning to move a little bit - public transport, the sporting community, the business community - but the last thing we want is for a football club to go back too early and then to get cases."

The training restrictions will be in place until Scotland moves to the second phase of the route out of lockdown, scheduled for 18 June.

"We don't know if phase two will start on 18 June," said Professor Leitch. "That will depend on the advisors, like me, looking at the data, and the decision makers, the politicians deciding what is in phase two."

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