Home / Premier League / Celtic v Rangers: Sky Sports should make Old Firm derby free to watch, says First Minister

Celtic v Rangers: Sky Sports should make Old Firm derby free to watch, says First Minister

Venue: Celtic Park, Glasgow Date: Sat, 17 Oct Kick-off: 12:30 BST
Coverage: Listen live on Radio Scotland & online; text commentary on BBC Sport website & app; watch highlights on Sportscene

Sky Sports should make Saturday’s Old Firm derby free to watch on television, says First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

Ms Sturgeon said it would discourage supporters from breaching Covid-19 regulations to travel to bars or other people’s houses to view the game.

While stadiums and pubs in the central belt remain closed, only fans with Sky Sports subscriptions will be able to watch the match live at 12:30 BST.

“I would encourage Sky Sports to make the match free to view,” Sturgeon said.

“It’s a small but important contribution they could make to helping keep people safe right now, and reduce the temptation of people who don’t have access to the pay-to-view services.”

Sturgeon echoed a call on Wednesday from the Scottish Greens, who urged the government discuss the issue with the football authorities and the broadcaster.

When asked about the first minister’s comments, a Sky Sports spokesman pointed out that the broadcaster has had a long-term relationship with Scottish football and ensured a degree of financial stability for clubs during the pandemic.

SPFL chief executive agreed with those remarks, telling BBC Scotland that giving the game away for free “wouldn’t be a reasonable thing to ask when they have invested so much in the product and in Scottish football”.

He added: “Ultimately Sky have invested well over £125m for the next four seasons, as well as this season, in Scottish football and they’ve bought those rights on an exclusive basis with a view to people subscribing for their services, so I think it’s wholly unreasonable that Sky give those crown jewels away.

“This is a game that everyone wants to see and you can see it through subscribing to Sky or buying a Now TV pass, which is less than £10 so it’s very accessible and there’s no reason why anyone should have to go to someone else’s house to watch the game.”

A Rangers pub in Blackpool will close this Saturdayexternal-link after receiving around 1,500 requests for bookings, while Cumbria Police have warned football fans about crossing the border.

“I know how important football is to so many people,” Ms Sturgeon said. “Old Firm matches are big occasions, everyone understands that, but please watch it at home.

“Don’t travel elsewhere to watch it with other people either in pubs or in other people’s homes because by doing that you are putting yourself at risk and you are putting other people at risk.

“That certainly applies to football supporters from Dumfries and Galloway or anywhere in Scotland who are thinking of going to parts of England. It is a really bad idea to do that and I would ask them not to do that.”

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