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Suspension of lower league football extended by Scottish FA

The Scottish Cup fourth round fixtures will not now go ahead as planned.

The governing body has extended the shutdown. Craig Williamson via SNS Group
The governing body has extended the shutdown.

The Scottish FA has announced that the current suspension of football in the lower leagues and women’s game has been extended into at least mid-February in line with government restrictions.

All football below Premiership and Championship level was stopped in early January with the suspension in place until February 1 to help prevent the spread of Covid-19. That date has now been pushed back, with the Scottish Cup being postponed further still.

The decision comes after representatives from League one and Two clubs spoke with senior SFA figures early this week to try and map out a return to playing.

A statement from the governing body read: “The Scottish FA has this week undertaken extensive consultation with representatives of leagues and clubs affected by the temporary suspension announced on Monday, 11 January 2021.


“This process has been beneficial in understanding the specific challenges faced by clubs at those levels within the men’s and women’s games, in particular understanding the key components required to facilitate return to play within each competition when it is safe to do so.

“Given that current lockdown measures implemented by the First Minister will now remain in place across Scotland until at least the middle of February, the existing temporary suspension of football will be extended until midnight on Sunday, 14 February.  This affects leagues with predominantly part-time clubs – although a number of full-time clubs have been affected.

“The Scottish FA will continue to work with those affected to develop league and division- specific plans for a return to training and playing, including adequate training and conditioning time. Those circumstances vary across our game and will be kept under constant review with any restart of the game likely to happen on a progressive basis.    

“A further update will be communicated by Wednesday, 10 February.


“The Scottish Cup Fourth Round fixtures scheduled for 20 February will not now go ahead, and all ties will be rescheduled and information communicated in due course. Consequently, Saturday, 20 February can be released as a fixture date for league matches.”

The governing body is confident that the Scottish Cup can be completed despite some Second Round ties still needing to be played and the Thrisd and Fourth Rounds not being played on their scheduled days and needing to be moved. The SFA said they will speak to their SPFL counterparts to rearrange games “When it is deemed safe and practical to do so”.

Rod Petrie, Scottish FA president said: “The conversations we have had with representatives from the clubs and leagues affected by the temporary suspension have been hugely beneficial. We have been able to further communicate the rationale behind the decision in the midst of an ongoing pandemic whilst also hearing at first hand the most important issues facing clubs and leagues at each level of the game.

“We have also been greatly encouraged by the sense of togetherness shown by the clubs and the robustness with which protocols and measures have been implemented in the interests of player and staff safety within football.  

“A number of initiatives have been suggested which may help to make the eventual return to playing efficient without compromising safety.

“The decision to extend the suspension is necessary given the Scottish Government’s own extension of existing lockdown measures. Football will play its part to support the collective effort to reduce the spread of the new variants of the COVID-19 virus.

“We are grateful for the input of all groups involved in our online discussions this week and we will continue to liaise ahead of our next public update on February 10th.” 

Tartan Army fans celebrate Scotland’s 0-0 draw with England

Supporters were out in force celebrating the result which keeps Scotland's Euro 2020 hopes alive.

Rob Pinney via Getty Images

Tartan Army fans gathered in London to celebrate Scotland’s 0-0 draw with England.

Scotland put in a superb performance to earn a draw with England at Wembley on Friday night in their second game of Euro 2020.

A win over Croatia at Hampden on Tuesday should be enough to reach their first ever major tournament knockout stage.

Supporters were out in force in London celebrating the result which keeps Scotland’s Euro 2020 hopes alive.

STV News
Clean-up under way at Leicester Square.

A large-scale clean-up is under way on Saturday morning at Leicester Square after fans congregated in the area the night before to celebrate the much-anticipated match.

Red flares were set off as crowds gathered together following the result.

Rob Pinney via Getty Images
Euro hopes: Scotland fans celebrate draw with England.

Many fans were wearing kilts and draped in Scotland flags, singing and cheering in the popular tourist spot.

Others kicked footballs and many belted out the Scottish national anthem and chanted “No Scotland, no party”.


The Metropolitan Police said officers entered Leicester Square at about 12.45am and encouraged those still at the scene to leave the area, with the square finally cleared by 1.15am.

Rob Pinney via Getty Images
No Scotland, no party: Crowds gather in Leicester Square.

A total of 30 people were arrested in central London as part of the policing operation for the Euros clash.

The force added 25 of the arrests were in central London while five people were arrested in the vicinity of Wembley.

Rob Pinney via Getty Images
Fans were seen climbing into the fountain of William Shakespeare.

Scotland Yard said in a tweet: “13 arrests were for public order offences, six for drunk and disorderly, four for assault on police, three for assault, two related to Class A drugs and one each for breaching a dispersal order and breaching a banning order.”

Meanwhile in Scotland, fans displayed their home support by gathering in Glasgow’s George Square to celebrate the result.

Supporters also gathered at an official Euros fan zone in Glasgow to watch the Auld Enemy clash.

It was the biggest event in the city since the pandemic began despite concerns it could lead to a spike in coronavirus cases.

Mark Scates via SNS Group
Home support: Scots watch the game at Glasgow’s fan zone.

Up to 6000 people each day – split into two 3000 sessions – have been able to watch Euros matches at Glasgow Green if they have a ticket.

Following the game, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: “Yes, sir, you all boogied.”

This week, thousands of Scotland fans travelled to London despite warnings they should not go unless they have a match ticket, or a safe place to watch the game.

Wembley only had 25% capacity for the game, and Scotland supporters were not able to access the traditional Trafalgar Square meeting place as it had been reserved as a fan zone for key workers.

Alan Harvey via SNS Group
We’ll be coming: Scotland fans in London.

The First Minister urged members of the Tartan Army to “please, please, please try to behave in a way that is a safe as possible”.

Speaking at the Scottish Government’s Covid briefing on Friday, Nicola Sturgeon said: “The virus doesn’t care about football, it is not going to give you a free pass because you are there celebrating a football match.”

McVitie’s workers protest over hundreds of job losses

Almost 500 workers at the biscuit factory were issued formal redundancy notices on Thursday.

STV News

McVitie’s workers are protesting over the loss of almost 500 jobs at the biscuit factory in Glasgow.

Snack firm Pladis, the parent company of McVitie’s, issued formal redundancy notices to all 472 staff at the closure-threatened Tollcross plant on Thursday.

Disgruntled workers are gathering outside the Glasgow Fort M&S store on Saturday to hold a socially-distanced demonstration. The Tollcross site is a major manufacturer of mallow biscuits for the retail giant’s own products.

Following Thursday’s shock news, union bosses called for David Murray, managing director of Pladis, to be “hauled” before an “action group” panel of council, industry and union chiefs which was set up by the Scottish Government to save the factory.


GMB Scotland organiser David Hume said the redundancy notices were an “act of extreme bad faith” and “a gross insult to hundreds of workers and their families who are fighting for their livelihoods and community”.

‘It’s their factory and their future, and they are going to keep fighting.’

GMB Scotland organiser David Hume

Speaking ahead of the demonstration, he said: “Our campaign to save jobs and bring-in new investment continues.

“It’s been a difficult few days’ for the Tollcross workforce, there’s no doubt about it, but the extreme bad faith shown by pladis over their redundancy notice announcement has only served to strengthen our members’ resolve.

“This demo is about sending a message to McVitie’s key clients like M&S, and to keep building support among the good people of Glasgow, that pladis’ actions are unexplained and unjust, and that these workers can and should have a future in the East End.


“It’s their factory and their future, and they are going to keep fighting.”

Former Commons Speaker John Bercow defects to Labour

Bercow said he regards the Tories under Boris Johnson as “reactionary, populist, nationalistic and sometimes even xenophobic”.

UK Parliament via Parliament TV
Having stepped down as Speaker in 2019, he announced on Saturday that he joined Labour in recent weeks.

John Bercow, the former Conservative MP who became the scourge of Brexiteers as Commons Speaker, says he has switched allegiances to join the Labour Party.

Bercow said he regards the Tories under Prime Minister Boris Johnson as “reactionary, populist, nationalistic and sometimes even xenophobic”.

Having stepped down as Speaker after 10 years in 2019, he announced on Saturday that he joined Labour in recent weeks.

“I am motivated by support for equality, social justice and internationalism. That is the Labour brand,” he told the Observer.


“The conclusion I have reached is that this Government needs to be replaced. The reality is that the Labour Party is the only vehicle that can achieve that objective. There is no other credible option.”

Bercow served as a Conservative MP for 12 years until he was elected Speaker in 2009.

His career was dogged by allegations of bullying from parliamentary staff, accusations that he always denied.

Bercow was also the subject of intense ire from Brexit-supporting MPs who believed a series of rulings he made during his time as Speaker favoured Remain.


In September 2019, he announced his intention to stand down from the role, as well as MP for Buckingham, and vacated the Speaker’s chair at the end of October that year.

He claimed last year there was a “conspiracy” to stop him getting a seat in the House of Lords.

Labour nominated him for a peerage after the Tories declined to do so, breaking with the long-standing convention that Speakers are elevated once they retire.

Asked if there is the possibility of being recommended for a peerage by Sir Keir Starmer, Bercow told the Observer: “There has been no such discussion and I have asked for no such thing. This isn’t about revenge. That is not what motivates me.”

The Labour leader’s office declined to comment on Bercow joining the party.

History beckons as Scotland team grows before our eyes

Vindication for Steve Clarke and Stephen O'Donnell as Billy Gilmour shows he was born to wear the Scotland shirt.

Alan Harvey via SNS Group
Billy Gilmour was a stand-out player after making his first Scotland start.

It’s been the fixture of Jim Baxter, of Kenny Dalglish, and of Leigh Griffiths. It’s also been the fixture of Paul Gascoigne and Paul Scholes and countless others over the 149 years these rivals have been competing on the pitch.

On Friday night at Wembley, Scotland’s current crop stepped into the match that matters more than any others – and showed they can compete as well as anyone.

Steve Clarke’s players couldn’t quite come away from the spiritual home of English football with a victory, but an impressive showing let viewers across the continent know that Scotland are more than capable of going toe-to-toe with the bigger names at Euro 2020.

It would be easy to look at the scoreline and assume this was a backs-to-the-wall, heroic defence under siege, or a battling ‘gerrintaethum’ blood and thunder battle. It was neither.

Alan Harvey via SNS Group
Steve Clarke salutes the Tartan Army at full-time.

Clarke’s players were executing a clever game plan for sure, but they exhibited a level of control and assurance, while showcasing their own abilities. Storms had to be weathered at times, but Scotland weren’t just huff and puff and had their more fancied opponents rattled.

The result was vindication for the head coach, who had bristled at some of the reaction to the opening-day loss to Czech Republic. Clarke felt that criticism of the performance at Hampden was over the top, given the 23-year exile from major tournament football that preceded.

Nevertheless, he made changes to his team, with four coming in to the side and all excelling alongside teammates who raised their game.

‘Gilmour the cream of the crop’

Pick of the crop was Billy Gilmour, the Chelsea 20-year-old who was handed his first start. His inclusion was what everyone was talking about when the team sheets came out, his performance was what they were raving about long after the final whistle.


Gilmour now looks a near-cert to face Croatia and to be a part of every Scotland game from here on in. His movement and passing helped set the tempo from the off, and if there was one thing needed to help settle the nerves, it was of the slight, unassuming youngster at the heart of the action, radiating confidence as he received the ball in tight spots only to emerge, head up, with options to survey.

Alan Harvey via SNS Group
Billy Gilmour has earned rave reviews for his midfield performance.

Flanked by committed, energetic and intelligent performances from Callum McGregor and John McGinn, Scotland had a heart that was steady and drove the team on.

Clarke also made changes to the defence and it was an area that had prompted concern from plenty in the build-up.

There were plenty who worried that watching Harry Kane would be punishment, and fears that seeing Phil Foden pick holes in the back line would be like spending 90 minutes in a dentist’s chair.

Kane unable

Instead Kieran Tierney returned to the back line and added a layer of solidity, alongside Grant Hanley, who has arguably been Scotland’s best player across the two Euro 2020 matches. With Scott McTominay dropping back to play on the right, the trio took on the direct battles and won them. Kane came into the game with 34 international goals, only two less than the entire Scotland squad, but he was restricted to just 19 touches and England’s leader and captain was hooked in the second half. He walked off with the look of a man who knows that his markers had ensured plenty of column inches about his crisis in form.

In attack, Clarke named two forwards in Che Adams and Lyndon Dykes, a statement that his side weren’t in London just to defend, and the pair exemplified the attitude the coach has instilled in his side. Both worked tirelessly, with Adams’ first touch ensuring that he always had space to bring others into the play or to have a pop at goal when he could.

On the flanks, captain Andy Robertson was his usual self, leading by example and contributing to defence and attack in equal measure. But on the other side of the park was a player who had been the subject of plenty pre-match discussion.

Craig Williamson via SNS Group
Andy Robertson was in the thick of things as Scotland stood firm.

‘O’Donnell led by example’


Stephen O’Donnell did not have a good game against Czech Republic and it was understandable and fair that people discussed the other options within the squad. O’Donnell was more than aware of the widespread criticism, but Clarke stuck by him and was rewarded with a display of tenacity, belief, discipline and no little skill. Had Jordan Pickford not got a hand to his well-struck volley, he would also have been the scorer of a goal that would have gone down in Scotland folklore.

It’s one of football’s well-worn phrases to talk about how young players who want to reach the top might want to watch one star or another and learn the tricks of the trade. If you’re looking for a model to demonstrate how to shake off a poor performance, tune out the critics and excel in adversity, O’Donnell is the man to point out to your young Scotland hopeful.

After considering all the positives from memorable night at Wembley, it’s almost a bit of a jolt to realise that to build on the point and make progress, Scotland really need to beat the World Cup finalists in a few days’ time.

Clarke might make tweaks here and there but it’s hard to imagine that he won’t keep together a system and personnel that went so well together.

Scotland have come a long way in just a few days.

As they return to training at their base camp in Darlington, none of the Scotland squad will be thinking they have an easy task ahead, but after a defeat to England and a draw against Czech Republic, all accounts have Croatia down as a shadow of the side of three years ago.

If given one wish, you might wonder if Scotland could only field the national team of three years from now. There’s a sense that Clarke is on to something with his approach and of all the options available to him, the majority still have room to develop and improve, especially in international games. As O’Donnell said after the match, even for the experienced players, “all of this is new to all of us”.

Instead, it will be a case of building on a performance to be proud of. Home advantage and a feeling of optimism will buoy the squad but an equally smart and controlled performance will be required to rattle Luka Modric and company.

After a long exile, Scotland have come a long way in just a few days from their opening match defeat. Having found their stride against England, all eyes now turn to the Croatia game and a chance for the national team to take a historic and significant step forward.

Scotland records two coronavirus deaths and 1209 new cases

NHS Lothian saw the highest number of new cases, at 331, followed by Greater Glasgow and Clyde on 320 and Tayside on 115.

Matejmo via IStock
Coronavirus: Scottish daily figures.

Scotland has recorded two coronavirus deaths and 1209 new cases in the past 24 hours, the Scottish Government has said.

It means the death toll under this daily measure – of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days – stands at 7692.

New figures show 253,120 people have now tested positive for the virus and the daily test positivity rate is 4.5%, up from 3.5% the previous day.

So far, 3,611,266 people have received the first dose of a Covid-19 vaccination, up 19,628 on the previous day, and 2,555,308 have received their second dose, up 19,505.


NHS Lothian saw the highest number of new cases, at 331, followed by Greater Glasgow and Clyde on 320 and Tayside on 115.

Mike Russell appointed to oversee SNP’s indy campaign

Nicola Sturgeon said that Russell would oversee the development of the SNP's independence campaign.

PA Media
Mike Russell is also currently the president of the SNP, a position which he took up in November last year.

Scotland’s former constitution secretary Mike Russell has been named as the political director of the SNP’s independence unit.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed the appointment on Saturday, after it was approved by the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC).

She said that Russell would oversee the development of the SNP’s independence campaign.

Russell stepped down as an MSP ahead of the Holyrood election in May, having served as the member for Argyll and Bute since 2011.


He is also currently the president of the SNP, a position which he took up in November last year.

On Twitter, the First Minister wrote: “Delighted that @theSNP National Executive Committee has approved my nomination of Mike Russell @Feorlean as political director of the HQ independence unit.

“He will oversee the development of the party’s independence campaign, as we look ahead to #indyref2 later in this Parliament.”

Russell added: “Pleased to take on political direction of the independence work & grateful to @NicolaSturgeon & #NEC Look forward to working with the vast range of enthusiastic talent, within & outwith the party, which is committed to a positive, inclusive – & successful – #indyref2 campaign.”


Responding to the appointment, Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross Tweeted: “Of course. Yesterday’s man is the obvious choice if you want to drag us back to 2014.

@ScotTories are focused on rebuilding Scotland for the next generation, not reigniting the bitter divisions of the past.”

Police discover drugs worth £50,000 after search of car

Two men are due to appear at Dumfries Sheriff Court in connection with the incident.

BrianAJackson via IStock
Officers discovered a haul of herbal cannabis following a search of the car which was stopped on the M74.

Two men have been arrested and charged after police recovered drugs worth an estimated £50,000 from a car.

Officers discovered a haul of herbal cannabis following a search of the car which was stopped on the M74.

The vehicle was pulled over near to junction 15, in Dumfries and Galloway, on Friday.

The men, aged 19 and 20, are due to appear at Dumfries Sheriff Court on Monday, June 21.


Sergeant Jonathan Edgar from Dumfries and Galloway Road Policing said: “This is a significant amount of drugs that have been taken off the streets by our officers.

“These now cannot be sold, and prevent harm being caused in our communities.” 

Conservative councillor has home targeted in third attack

It is the third time that councillor Graeme Campbell has been targeted.

STV News
Nobody was injured at the attack on the home in Strathaven.

Police enquiries are underway after the home of a Scottish Conservative councillor was targeted in a firebomb attack.

Officers said that no-one was injured in the fire at the property, which they said they are treating as “wilful”.

It is the third time that Graeme Campbell, who represents Avondale and Stonehouse, has been targeted.

In 2019, Campbell’s car and house in Strathaven were petrol bombed as he and his family slept.


Then in September last year, he was forced to scale back his work after two cars were vandalised with a corrosive substance and a house window was smashed.

Speaking at the time, Campbell indicated his belief that a local organised criminal was behind both attacks.

The third incident against Campbell took place in the early hours of Saturday.

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “Around 12.20am on Saturday, June 19, we received a report of a fire at a property on Fortrose Gardens.


“Emergency services attended and the fire was extinguished by the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service. No one was injured.

“Enquiries to establish the circumstances of the fire, which is being treated as wilful, are ongoing.”

Scottish Conservative shadow community safety minister Russell Findlay said there must be zero tolerance towards any attacks of such nature.

“Councillor Campbell and his wife could have been killed in this disgusting and cowardly attack,” he said.

“They are understandably devastated. These are decent, law-abiding people and it is the third time their home has been targeted.

“I will be seeking assurances from the Scottish Government, Crown Office and Police Scotland that this attack is investigated to the fullest possible extent.

“There must be zero tolerance towards any attack of this nature. Organised criminals prey on communities across Scotland. Fire is indiscriminate and even where the intent is to intimidate, it can kill.”

Man dies at scene after blaze tears through house

Police said the house fire in Dunblane is not thought to be suspicious.

Scottish Fire and Rescue Service via SFRS
Police were called to a report of a fire on Perth Road at around 1:35 am.

A 57-year-old man has died after a house fire in Dunblane during the early hours of Saturday.

Police were called to a report of a fire on Perth Road at around 1:35 am.

Emergency services were in attendance at the scene, while the blaze was extinguished by the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS).

Officers confirmed that the man was pronounced dead at the scene.


Enquiries are ongoing to establish the circumstances of the fire, but it is not thought to be suspicious, police said.

A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: “Officers were called to the report of a fire at a property on Perth Road in Dunblane around 1.35am on Saturday, 19 June.

“Emergency services attended and the fire was extinguished by the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.

“A 57-year-old man was pronounced dead at the scene. Enquiries are ongoing to establish the circumstances, but it is not thought to be suspicious.”

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