Sadiq Khan warns ticketless Scotland fans not to gather in London for Euro 2020 clash with England amid fears it will cause spike in Covid cases
He reiterated a plea made earlier this month for the Tartan Army to stay at home for the match on Friday evening unless they have a safe place to watch the game.
Warning of the risk posed by the Delta variant, he asked supporters not to gather in the capital.
He said Scotland supporters will not be able to access their traditional meeting spot of Trafalgar Square as it will be used as a socially-distanced, ticketed fan zone for key workers, and pubs will have limited space due to coronavirus measures.
Mr Khan said: ‘It is absolutely fantastic that Scotland are playing in their first international tournament for 23 years and I cannot wait for Friday’s match.
‘Scottish fans are renowned around the world for bringing a party atmosphere with them to the big tournaments but with Covid restrictions still in place on both sides of the border, the best thing for fans without tickets to the game or a safe place to watch it is to enjoy the game from Scotland and not come to London.
Sadiq Khan gets close with a fellow England supporter as they watch the game in the fanzone
Scotland fans gathered in Trafalgar Square back in 2013 for the last big match against England
England heroes Kalvin Phillips and Raheem Sterling celebrate the winning goal on Sunday
‘In an ideal world I would welcome the Tartan Army to London for this match with open arms, but with Covid cases increasing, and with so much at stake as we fight this awful virus, I’m afraid that it just cannot be this time, so the best thing to do is not to come to London and instead enjoy the game at home.’
Scottish culture minister Jenny Gilruth backed the plea, as she said a cautious approach to celebrating the much-anticipated game is needed.
‘I strongly urge fans to only travel if you have a ticket or a safe place to watch the match from,’ she said.
‘Although we have made great progress, we all still have an important part to play in making sure we keep the virus under control. So I urge all football fans to plan in advance how you are going to safely enjoy the tournament.’
UK sports minister Nigel Huddleston said the British Government continues to ‘advise fans without tickets to enjoy the match close to home and not travel to London unless you have somewhere already finalised to watch the game safely’.
Just over 20,000 fans will be allowed inside Wembley for the match and less than 1,000 in the Trafalgar Square fan zone.
Scotland football fans at the Black Bull in the Grassmarket, Edinburgh, during their team’s opening Euro 2020 fixture
Ticketless Scotland fans have been urged to stay away from Wembley as thousands are set to descend on London for the England game on Friday. Pictured: Football fans at the Fan Zone in Glasgow as they watch the Euro match between Scotland and the Czech Republic, June 14
The office of the London mayor said it is not possible to arrange a separate screening in the city to accommodate large numbers of fans from Scotland under current Covid-19 restrictions.
Worryingly the Scottish Football Supporters Association expects as many as 6,000 Scots will be making the trip south on Friday, while others say it could be 20,000 people.
All 15 of the train services going straight to London for Glasgow in time for the match were sold out by Monday, with nearly all of the 17 trains from Edinburgh also full – for standard tickets
The association’s founder, Paul Goodwin, questioned why there was no fan zone provided for supporters without tickets in London, adding that Glasgow has one that can take 6,000 seated and socially distanced people.
He told The Times: ‘There will be plenty of tartan on display as we like coming down and showing off. The fact we have not been part of it [a major tournament] for such a long time is a factor.’
Sven Lister, part of the Roysth Tartan Army supporters club, said that not facilitating a way for fans to watch the match could bring about trouble.
‘I reckon there will be about 20,000 or so turning out. It just worries me that they’ve not done anything. There’s going to be groups wandering, possibly not getting to see the football, which would cause trouble,’ he told MyLondon.