SCOTLAND’s Health Secretary has backed plans for this weekend’s Old Firm match between Celtic and Rangers to be put on free to air TV.

Yesterday, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told fans not to travel to England, pointing in particular to Blackpool, to watch the match in pubs – with hospitality settings closed across the Central Belt.

The Scottish Greens called for Sky Sports, which has broadcasting rights for the game, to make the clash available on free to air TV to stop people travelling to English pubs and gathering in homes of people who have Sky Sports subscriptions.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman has now added pressure on Sky Sports to act in order to protect public health.

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She said: “We do certainly support Sky, who are going to broadcast the game, we can’t intervene, we can’t tell them what to do, we can’t change how they go about broadcasting whatever it is they are broadcasting, but we would encourage them to think about that and cooperate in that way.

“I know that both the clubs have been very helpful and cooperative in talking to their fans about what they want them to do in order for them to see the game.”

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She added: “We know at this time of year, many people in Scotland traditionally go to Blackpool for the October break.

“We also know that many fans of the Old Firm may well have been thinking about going to Blackpool in order to watch the game there – it makes sense to particularly highlight that area. We do have case numbers coming from people who one of the things that they have done is been to Blackpool for a trip of some description or other.

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“It simply makes sense to say to the wider population please don’t do that – if you do, think really carefully about it before you go.”

Scottish Greens health spokesperson, Alison Johnstone, said: "I’m calling on the Scottish Government to urgently engage with the football authorities, and Sky Sports, to establish whether it might be possible to broadcast Saturday’s Celtic vs Rangers game on free to air tv.

“I’m confident the overwhelming majority of people will continue to follow the rules as they have throughout this crisis, but broadcasting the game free to air would allow everyone to watch at home, reducing the risk of people heading out to watch the game and spreading the virus.”