Euros: Scotland fans disappointed with lack of London Fan Zones for match against England
Scottish supporters have been encouraged to cheer from home instead of heading down to the capital to avoid the spread of coronavirus.
Scotland fans have criticised the lack of fan zone space available in London for the England-Scotland match.
The Euro 2020 clash between old rivals will kick off to a crowd of more than 20,000 fans at Wembley this evening.
This is the first time Scotland have qualified for the Euros in 23 years, but there will be no official fan zone for Scottish supporters in London because of Covid-19 regulations.
But this has not dampened their spirits as dozens of Scottish fans have already started gathering outside King’s Cross train station in London, dancing and singing to their adopted anthem Yes Sir, I Can Boogie, a 1977 hit by Baccara.
The traditional Scottish meeting spot of Trafalgar Square will not be accessible to them as it will be used as a socially-distanced, ticketed fan zone for 750 key workers, and the screen will not be visible without access.
Co-Founder of the Scottish Football Supporters Association (SFSA) Paul Goodwin said: “We are surprised and disappointed that there isn’t a fan zone in London. We thought there should have been more foresight, London is the capital city, the main hosting city for the tournament.
“It’s not just Scotland-England here, it would have been the perfect test if they did have a fan zone, but what happens if it’s France and England or Germany and England in the final, are people going to be content with what they’ve got?
“However we are pragmatic, we’re realists, we totally understand as football fans, but also as human beings in the pandemic, of the big picture.”
There is an outside, socially-distanced fan zone in Glasgow Green with a capacity of up to 6,000 people per day which was organised between the Scottish Government, Glasgow City Council and Uefa.
Capacity at sports pubs and bars will also be limited due to Covid-19 restrictions, and many have been booked up well in advance.
It is anticipated that thousands of Scotland’s fans will travel to London by train for the match, but the SFSA explained many of these train tickets were booked when Wembley originally allocated Scottish fans over 18,000 seats, but due to Covid-19 restrictions this was decreased to 2,600.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, the Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston and the Scottish Government have reminded fans that they should only travel to the match if they have a ticket for a match or fan zone or a safe place to watch the game from.
This restriction is to prevent creating a spike in coronavirus cases due to the risk posed by the Delta variant.
Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Laurence Taylor told LBC that events with large crowds, often where alcohol is consumed, create “policing challenges” but that the force has a “robust plan” in place.
Mr Taylor said: “People gathering around in larger groups outside of Covid restrictions can expect to be policed.”
The Scottish Police have also confirmed they have a comprehensive policing plan in place to ensure everyone can enjoy the match while keeping disruption in the community to a minimum.
After a long stretch of soaring temperatures, London will see a drop to around 14C (57.2F) during the match, with showers expected.
Transport for London has advised Londoners and fans to plan ahead and leave extra time for travel, or to consider walking or cycling if possible, as they anticipate sections of the transport network to be busier than ever, especially the Wembley stations.
The Greater London Authority has also warned there will be temporary road closures around Trafalgar Square on June 18 to bring in the Fan Zone infrastructure, as it hopes to keep the area clear when it is not in use.
ScotRail has also urged fans returning from the match to plan their onward travel after arriving back in Glasgow central or Edinburgh Waverley as less than 15% of services will be running due to ongoing strikes.