SCOTLAND’S TOP football clubs could explore playing league games in ENGLAND – over Nicola Sturgeon’s tough Covid crowd restrictions.
Rugby bosses are also looking into moving the Six Nations clash with England on February 5 to Newcastle if the Scottish Government’s 500-fan limit remains at Murrayfield.
And SunSport can reveal rugby’s cross-border proposal is being closely monitored by senior officials within Scottish football.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has refused to give any assurances that the 500-fan limit will be lifted after January 17.
Clubs stand to lose fortunes if they are forced to play games in near-empty stadiums over the next few months.
English grounds remain full to capacity, leading to further frustration for clubs across all four Scottish divisions.
And it’s understood the prospect of following rugby by moving some Premiership matches to the north of England has been floated.
It would be a historic move, as a Scottish top flight match has never been played outwith the country.
Celtic and Dundee were part of a joint proposal to play a game in America around six years ago.
The Dens Park club were willing to take a home fixture to the States and top-level talks were held – before it collapsed.
But Scottish clubs could try again in the coming weeks, if the current restrictions on sporting events remain in place.
The SPFL board and the SFA would have to sanction any move to take fixtures across the border to England.
Uefa would also have a say in the matter, while Fifa chiefs have the power to get involved in any final decision.
First Minister Sturgeon yesterday confirmed the 500-fan restriction is set to remain in place until at least January 17.
SunSport understands SPFL chiefs have no reason to believe full houses won’t return from that date.
Celtic host Hibs that night, while there are five Premiership games 24 hours later – including Aberdeen v Rangers.
But at the very least, it’s hoped that there will be a major increase in crowd limits, well into the thousands.
But the government won’t make any promises, with Sturgeon insisting it’s too early to make that call.
She said: “Restrictions on large gatherings will remain in force for now and, I expect, until January 17.
“I hope very much we won’t have to go beyond January 17th with these restrictions.
“But I don’t do anybody any good if I try to give certainty ahead of our ability to do that.”
Meanwhile, rugby legend Sir Ian McGeechan wants Scotland’s clash with England moved to Newcastle if Murrayfield isn’t full.
Gregor Townsend’s men are set to face the Auld Enemy in the Calcutta Cup clash on February 5.
And former Scotland and Lions icon McGeechan reckons a full St James’ Park would be much better than a near-empty Murrayfield.
He said: “I would like to see the Six Nations exhaust all possibilities to allow as many fans as possible to attend.
“Crowds are what give games energy.
“The possibility of moving matches to English venues is certainly intriguing.
“For Scotland, where the maximum capacity at outdoor games is 500, the possibility of playing at St James’ Park would surely be preferable.
“And there are currently no legal restrictions preventing fans from crossing the border.
“No one wants to see the Six Nations go behind closed doors again.”