Scottish Cup final

The Scottish Football Association (SFA) has been granted approval by UEFA to have fans in attendance for this season’s Scottish Cup final at Hampden Park, reversing the previous stance that no spectators would be permitted.

It had been announced that there will be no fans at Hampden Park (pictured) for the game between Hibernian and St Johnstone on May 22, as the venue will have already been handed over to European football’s governing body for Glasgow’s staging of Euro 2020 games.

The SFA earlier announced it had received approval from the Government to allow for up to 25% capacity for the four games at Hampden Park, equating to around 12,000 fans. It has now stated it has received UEFA approval for a revised proposal that will enable a limited number of supporters to attend the Scottish Cup final.

The Government said last month that Scottish sports fans could return to stadia and arenas from May 17 as part of the recovery efforts from COVID-19 restrictions. Barring a handful of fixtures, Scottish football clubs have been forced to play behind closed doors since the global pandemic took hold in March 2020.

However, the Government confirmed that a maximum of 500 fans could be allowed back inside stadia from May 17, subject to physical distancing conditions being observed and advice being followed. The SFA has now made a submission to Government for permission to increase the number of spectators from the maximum 500 permitted under Level 2 restrictions. The BBC said the SFA is seeking a capacity of between 1,500 and 3,000 fans.

The SFA said in a statement: “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 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.”

Philadelphia’s teams ready for full capacity

Philadelphia is set to become the latest US city to lift capacity limits on sports venues, with June 11 set as the date from which 100% attendance will be permitted.

Ahead of capacity limits being removed next month, the city’s sports teams will be permitted to raise stadium and arena capacities from 25% to 50%, beginning on May 21. The NBA’s 76ers said they will open Wells Fargo Center to 50%, or around 10,000 fans, in time for their first postseason game.

Major League Soccer’s Union will open Subaru Park to full capacity on June 23, with MLB’s Phillies set to release more details for Citizens Bank Park once its specific capacity is set. As of now, fans will still be required to wear face masks when attending games, with the NFL’s Eagles looking forward to opening at full capacity when its 2021 season commences in the autumn.

Eagles president Don Smolenski said. “We are excited to welcome our fans home and look forward to Lincoln Financial Field returning to form as an unrivalled home-field advantage for our team. We have always been committed to providing our fans a great gameday experience in a safe, clean and friendly environment. As we look ahead to a full stadium, we encourage our community to get vaccinated.”

Philadelphia’s announcement follows similar statements made in Washington D.C. and Minnesota in recent days.

Cardinals offer tickets for vaccines

MLB’s St. Louis Cardinals is incentivising fans to get vaccinated by offering free tickets to games, as Busch Stadium prepares to double its capacity limits.

The Cardinals said it has received approval from the City of St. Louis and the Health Department to increase capacity at Busch Stadium, beginning May 21. Seating pods will now be spaced a minimum of three feet apart in all directions, allowing Busch Stadium capacity to roughly double. 

Additionally, the Cardinals are partnering with the City of St. Louis to host a three-day vaccination event inside the Cardinals Club at Busch Stadium, starting today (Wednesday). Each individual who receives a vaccine at the event will receive a voucher for two free tickets to a 2021 Cardinals game.

The club plans to announce a similar vaccination effort in cooperation with St. Louis County at a later date. “We are thankful for the guidance provided by Mayor Tishaura Jones’ office and Dr. Echols in helping us safely increase our capacity at Busch Stadium,” said Bill DeWitt III, Cardinals president. 

“We are also proud to partner with the City of St. Louis in their effort to vaccinate more fans and encourage those who haven’t been vaccinated yet to come down to the ballpark, get your vaccine, and enjoy a Cardinals game on us later this year.”

Brewers, Bucks and Penguins move to 50% capacity

The Milwaukee Brewers, Milwaukee Bucks and Pittsburgh Penguins have announced they will move to 50% capacity at their venues.

In Milwaukee, the increases will commence from Saturday at American Family Field for the Brewers’ game against Atlanta Braves, and for the NBA playoffs for the Bucks at Fiserv Forum. The two teams had previously been operating at 25% and 18% capacity, respectively.

Meanwhile, the Penguins have said that capacity for NHL playoff games at PPG Paints Arena will increase to 50% as of May 17. Governor Tom Wolf and the Pennsylvania Department of Health announced yesterday that capacity limits for gatherings will be increased to 50% indoors and 75% outdoors on May 17.

It will allow the Penguins to welcome more than 9,000 fans for any game played on or after that date.

Image: Daniel/CC BY 2.0/Edited for size