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Scotland fixture in Czech Republic to go ahead despite coronavirus concerns

Belgium v Scotland – UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifying – Group I – King Baudouin Stadium
(Image credit: Bradley Collyer)

Scotland’s Nations League match against the Czech Republic on Monday will go ahead as scheduled, UEFA has said.

Steve Clarke’s plans were thrown into disarray late on Friday night when the Czech FA declared the fixture set to be staged in Olomouc had been called off amid a coronavirus threat.

But European football’s governing body insists the game will be played.

Scotland shared a 1-1 draw with Israel in Friday's Nations League opener

Scotland shared a 1-1 draw with Israel in Friday’s Nations League opener (Andrew Milligan/PA)

In a statement to the PA news agency, a spokesman said: “The match is going ahead as scheduled.”

Clarke’s squad were due to travel to Olomouc on Sunday. The squad’s training session at their Oriam training base on the outskirts of Edinburgh is to go ahead on Saturday afternoon as scheduled.

The Czech’s plans for their Nations League opener with Slovakia on Friday night were affected after West Ham midfielder Tomas Soucek and RB Leipzig striker Patrik Schick were told to self-isolate following contact with a backroom staff member who tested positive for the virus.

The Czech FA delayed the departure for Bratislava by 24 hours while the entire squad was retested and the players made the 200-mile journey by road after splitting up into small groups.

However, after their opening 3-1 win, the Czech FA announced the team would not be facing the Scots “due to representatives’ decision and the current situation with the Covid-19”.

Friday night’s declaration took the Scottish Football Association by surprise.

But PA has been told Hampden chiefs are also working on the understanding that the game at the Andruv Stadion will now be going ahead, with a statement expect shortly.

The Czechs risk forfeiting points should they not take to the field on Monday night.

UEFA last week announced principles for scenarios where Covid-19 affected fixtures, stating that a game would go ahead as long as a team had at least 13 players available, including a goalkeeper.

If a national team does not have 13 players, the match will be rescheduled, and if it cannot then UEFA’s disciplinary body will take a decision.

Later on Saturday, Scottish FA chief executive Ian Maxwell expressed his satisfaction after receiving “categorical assurances” the Nations League match would go ahead as planned in a safe and secure environment.

Scottish FA chief executive Ian Maxwell welcomed the decision to keep the game on

Scottish FA chief executive Ian Maxwell welcomed the decision to keep the game on (Andrew Milligan/PA)

“We were as surprised as UEFA to learn of the statement posted on the official FACR channels last night,” he said in a statement.

“Following extensive conversations late last night and this morning we have received categorical assurance that the match goes ahead.

“Furthermore, Czech Republic have confirmed they will be able to fulfil their obligations to the match and, more importantly, to the stringent Covid-19 testing regime that is sacrosanct to ensure the safety of our players and staff.

“While we empathise with all national associations during this period of global uncertainty, none the less we required and received absolute assurance that we will be entering a safe and secure environment having worked diligently in Scotland to maintain safety and adherence to UEFA’s necessary Covid-19 protocols.”