Euro 2020: Come to London but don’t go to Trafalgar Square, Sadiq Khan tells Tartan Army

·4-min read
 (PA)
(PA)

Scotland football fans who travel to London for the Euro 2020 clash against England have been urged by Sadiq Khan to stay away from Trafalgar Square.

Giant screens in the square will broadcast the match live – but only 750 of the capital’s key workers will be allowed entrance via a free ticketing scheme.

A total of 2,600 members of the Tartan Army will be allowed inside Wembley to watch the group game against the “Auld enemy” on June 18, out of a total reduced capacity in the stadium of 25,000.

The Mayor said he wants Scots to travel to London to help boost the capital’s pandemic-hit economy – but told them not to turn up at Wembley without a ticket nor head to Trafalgar Square, a notorious flashpoint in previous encounters between the two nations.

It came as he revealed the Met police was on standby for potential flashpoints throughout the summer amid concerns that the ending of the lockdown could lead to an increase in violence.

He told Mayor’s Question Time on Thursday that “historically England v Scotland is a challenge”.

 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)

In an earlier interview with Sky Sports, Mr Khan said: “We don’t want Scotland fans coming here without a ticket expecting to watch the game in the stadium, but we do want Scottish people to come to London to enjoy the great things about our city.

“But if you are going to come for the football, make sure you have got a place to stay, but also a place to watch the football, because the balloting for the game on the big screen is only for key workers.

“It’s really important you don’t come expecting to get into Wembley or expecting to go to Trafalgar Square. But do come to London, because I’m keen to encourage people from across the country to enjoy our great city.”

Mr Khan announced earlier this month that a ticket-only “fan zone” would be set up in the square to allow spectators to gather to watch England’s three group games, plus the two semi-finals and the final.

Due to social distancing rules, only 750 people will be allowed into the fan zone to watch England’s first two matches, against Croatia on June 13 and Scotland five days later.

If Covid restrictions are further relaxed, as expected on June 21, up to 9,500 fans could then be admitted – including to the England v Czech Republic match on June 22.

Asked if it was “wishful thinking” to assume ticketless travelling Scots would not head to Trafalgar Square, Mr Khan replied: “I think Scottish fans will come to London because they understand it is an important fixture, but… no Scottish people want to come here and catch the virus or spread the virus, and we have to make sure that these games are safe and they take place in an environment we can all enjoy.”

He said he had thought of erecting a separate fan zone for the Tartan army that would also have been limited to a 750 capacity. He said: “That doesn’t address the demand of our friends in Scotland. What we have got is one fan zone for 750 – those are key workers, and others across our city and across the country will need to watch it safely from home.”

Concerns over summer violence

Mr Khan was challenged at City Hall by Shaun Bailey, the defeated Tory mayoral candidate, about what was being done to ensure that summer gatherings “don’t descend into violence”.

Mr Bailey, a Tory member of the London Assembly, referred to an incident in the summer of 2016 when a mass water fight in Hyde Park got out of control, a police officer was stabbed and several others injured and police in riot gear had to be dispatched.

Mr Bailey said the We Are FSTVL, if it goes ahead in Central Park in Dagenham in September as billed, was being resisted by police and could be a “real magnet for drug gangs”.

Mr Khan said he and Met commissioner Dame Cressida Dick were concerned about a possible increase in violent crime as lockdown measures ease. An “Operation summer nights” strategy was being drawn up.

“It’s perfectly understandable for young people to want to meet up,” Mr Khan said. “There is a pent-up frustration for being locked away, basically, for the last 14-15 months, but it’s got to be lawful and safe.”

He said forthcoming events were risk-assessed on a daily basis. “We have mapped out the summer, basically, of big events.

“The other thing… that is relevant is the Euros. I’m not casting aspersions but historically England v Scotland is a challenge.

“There is a lot of work taking place to help with the recovery as we come out of lockdown but making sure everyone is kept safe.”

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