NICOLA Sturgeon has warned Old Firm fans they risk the lives of vulnerable loved ones if they flout coronavirus rules this weekend.

The First Minister urged football fans to stay at home ahead of the first Celtic v Rangers clash of the season.

The Glasgow clubs will play behind closed doors at Celtic Park on Saturday due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Speaking during the Scottish Government’s coronavirus briefing on Friday, the First Minister asked fans not to gather outside the stadium or in other people’s homes.

With pubs closed in the central belt under temporary Covid-19 measures, Ms Sturgeon also told fans not to travel to other parts of Scotland or to areas in England with fewer restrictions. 

She made the appeal as she announced nine more deaths of coronavirus patients have been recorded in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of fatalities to 2,594.

Ms Sturgeon said everyone can think of vulnerable people in their lives. 

She said: "Every time one of us puts ourselves in a position where we are unnecessarily and avoidably exposed to this virus, we could – completely inadvertently and unwillingly, I know – be setting off a chain reaction that leads to that vulnerable person in our own lives getting the virus and becoming very ill or, worst-case scenario, dying.

"I think we all have to think about it on that personal level."

The First Minister stressed anybody can get ill and die from the virus, but vulnerable people are most at risk.

She added: "Think about who that is in your own life, and think about the chain you could be setting off by going to sit in a pub to watch the football or nipping to somebody else's house to watch the match."

Ms Sturgeon urged fans to be responsible and not to put others at risk.

She said people have been asked to make "the most horrendous sacrifices" over the last seven months. 

She added: "In the context of all the sacrifices, asking people – not even not to watch the match if you're able to watch it in your own home – but just not to go to a pub, not to go to somebody else's house, I'm going to be pretty blunt here: that's not the biggest sacrifice I've asked people to make over the past seven months."

Stressing that nobody should be going into someone else's house unless for an essential purpose, Ms Sturgeon said: “I’m afraid that watching football, no matter how essential it might feel to some, does not fall into that essential category.”

She said there is no point in turning up at Celtic Park as there will be “nothing to see” and she stressed it is “really important” for fans not to travel to try to watch the game in pubs.

Ms Sturgeon said the temptation to defy public health measures could be “even greater” than usual as a result of the football match on Saturday.

She said: “Nobody likes the fact that these restrictions have to be in place but they are vital to protecting all of us and keeping us safe.

“So please comply with restrictions – by doing that you will be playing your part in helping us get the virus under control and you’ll be helping hasten the day when we can all watch and enjoy the things that we love doing, whether that’s football or the many things that we find ourselves not able to do normally.”

Responding to comments to cancel the game from Labour MP Ian Murray, Ms Sturgeon said it is not “within my gift alone” to postpone the match and said the majority of people will likely comply with Covid-19 restrictions.

A total of 1,196 people have tested positive for coronavirus over the past 24 hours, while the number of people being admitted to hospital with the virus continues to grow.