Celtic are drawing plans to accommodate crowds of 30,000 at Parkhead by the end of August.
And the anticipated reduction of the two-metre rule by the Scottish Government could see the Scottish Rugby Union host Murrayfield gates of up to 34,000 by September.
The SPFL Premiership has scheduled a provisional kick-off date of August 1 for the new football season, with games set to begin behind closed doors.
Celtic are drawing plans to accommodate crowds of 30,000 at Parkhead by the end of August
With the Scottish Government confirming plans to allow live outdoor events with social distancing as early as July 23, however, hopes are rising that fans could return to Scottish games in significant numbers within weeks.
‘This is a vital step everyone in Scottish football has been waiting for,’ said SFA Chief Executive Neil Doncaster. ‘We are not taking anything for granted, and are committed to adhering to all relevant medical and government guidelines, but clubs and supporters can definitely now see light at the end of the tunnel.’
Hibernian Chief Executive Leann Dempster remained cautious on Wednesday night saying: ‘Certainly things like how the stadium would work and that thinking is well forward now.
The Scottish Government will allow live outdoor events with social distancing from late July
‘It is just the timing element now that keeps moving, continually and quickly. So, there has been more positivity in the last seven days concerning normality and social distancing and how that impacts on us. It does give us hope.
‘I still anticipate we will have Hibs fans in the stadium next season and I hope that it will be this side of the year. A few days ago I might have thought January onwards and a really limited amount, but i am more hopeful now. I think they will get in this year, whether October, November…who knows?’
Celtic and the SRU teamed up to employ outside consultants to examine how fans back in stadia might work and, with the lowering of the two metre rule expected on July 2, the best case scenario would see fans back in bio secure arenas within nine weeks.
In a statement welcoming Wednesday’s government announcements on behalf of the Joint Response Group SFA Chief Executive Ian Maxwell said: ‘Today’s news is welcome by the JRG and I am sure everyone involved in Scottish football from professional to grassroots level.
Hopes are rising that fans could return to Scottish games in significant numbers within weeks
‘While we must proceed with caution and respect the government’s current public health advice, none the less the First Minister’s announcement today gives confidence that, as the virus diminishes in Scotland, we can prepare for the gradual return of fans into stadia.’
The SRU have held talks with Hearts and Hibs over hosting socially distanced football games at Murrayfield.
On Wednesday night, however, Dempster said: ‘We are still having discussions with the guys at Murrayfield and we still like the idea and the possibility of using Murrayfield but the barrier for us is the real, physical cost of putting a match on there because the stadium is so big and we could have to use virtually all of it or all of it from a social distancing perspective.
The Scottish Rugby Union could also host Murrayfield gates of up to 34,000 by September
‘The associated cost of opening up all of Murrayfield, even with reduced stewarding is still significantly more than we could probably bear. We have not given up hope yet but if you had asked me a couple of weeks ago I was probably 70-30 or 60-40 in favour of it happening but I am probably about 50-50 now.’
Grassroots football is also on the way back, SFA Chief Maxwell adding: ‘Today’s announcement is also hugely encouraging on the timeline for the reintroduction of football to the hundreds of thousands of recreational players in the country.
‘This will obviously be dependent on adhering to the current guidelines, whilst seeking more detail on the phasing and scaling of phases 2 and 3.
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