Queen of the South are likely to be hit with a Scottish FA charge after allowing George Galloway to attend the Boxing Day Scottish Championship visit of Dundee to Dumfries. Queens have issued two apologies, which Galloway has defended on the basis of giving publicity to the club.
The Scottish government’s switch to tier 4 for the entire country from Boxing Day means spectators are not allowed entry to football matches. Strict guidelines issued by Scottish football’s Covid-19 joint response group to clubs state that only ambulance staff, club directors and senior personnel – with no guests – analysts, scouts, the match delegate, referee observer, the stadium announcer and a screen operative can view from the “amber zone”.
Galloway, apparently in the company of his family, posted a photo on social media from the fixture. When challenged on his attendance, the former MP said: “I live in D&G [Dumfries and Galloway]. My family have five season tickets. I’m about to be a sponsor. I’m spreading the word about the club to millions of people.”
Other clubs who have, for example, conducted post-match interviews with sponsors via Zoom immediately expressed concern at the situation. The rules had been agreed between the Scottish FA, Scottish Professional Football League and Scottish Government.
With an angry backlash from their own supporters, Queens issued a statement on Sunday. “We can confirm that George Galloway did attend our game against Dundee at Palmerston yesterday. He was socially distant within an area of the ground where he formed a bubble with his family. All Covid protocols were followed at all times. We would like to apologise to our supporters who have been upset by his attendance at the match.”
On Monday morning, another statement appeared. “Reflecting on our statement to the fans last night we realise that we should have given a fuller apology.
“George Galloway was granted permission to attend our game against Dundee when Dumfries and Galloway was in tier 1 and fans were being allowed back into matches. We however accept that we should’ve readdressed the decision once the rules changed and should’ve informed Mr Galloway that he could no longer attend the match. We realise it was a total error of judgement and we should have been more considerate of our loyal supporters.
“We would again like to issue an unreserved apology to our fans and would like to reassure them that we fully accept and understand their anger. It was a genuine mistake that shouldn’t have been made. As we navigate our way through some tough times both on and off the park your valued support is needed more than ever.”
Dundee won the match 3-1, which leaves Queens rooted to the bottom of Scotland’s second tier with four points from nine games.