NICOLA Sturgeon has urged Sky Sports to show this weekend’s Old Firm match for free, saying it would be a “small but important contribution” to help “keep people safe”.

But the SPFL have hit back at the First Minister, saying it would be “unreasonable” for the broadcaster to “give up Scottish football’s crown jewels.”

Currently, pubs in Glasgow are closed and there’s a ban on household visits, meaning fans will only be able to watch the game on the TV if they have a subscription or a weekend pass.

There’s been widespread speculation Rangers and Celtic fans could be heading south of the Border to watch tomorrow’s game in a bar.

One pub in Blackpool has already made the decision to close its doors this weekend, saying it had received more than 1500 booking requests to watch the Old Firm match.

The Gallant Pioneer announced that it usually “lives for days like Saturday” but won’t be welcoming fans as it doesn’t want to risk breaking any restrictions.

Speaking to MSPs yesterday, the First Minister urged fans not to make the trip: “I said yesterday that people should not, if they can avoid it, travel to Blackpool. That’s not because I’ve got anything in for Blackpool.

“Blackpool is a great place, many people in Scotland love going to Blackpool at this time of the year, lots of us have got very happy childhood memories of visits to Blackpool and we look forward to getting back to normal, but we know through Test and Protect that a significant number of people who have travelled to Blackpool have gone on to test positive.

“We can’t be certain that’s where they got it but it is an increasing theme of the Test and Protect interview, so people should not travel to Blackpool right now if they don’t have to.

“And that applies particularly to Old Firm supporters this weekend. We know or have heard some suggestions that some of them may have been planning to travel to Blackpool to watch the match in pubs.

“Please don’t do that. I know how important football is to so many people across the country. Old Firm matches are big occasions, everybody understands that, but please watch at home. Don’t travel elsewhere to watch it with other people either in pubs outside of your own area or in other people’s homes because by doing that you’re putting yourself at risk and you’re putting other people at risk.”

Sturgeon encouraged Sky Sports to make the match free to view for supporters, “as a small but important contribution that they could make in helping keep people safe right now”.

This, she said, would enable people to “watch the match in the comfort and the safety of their own home” and would “reduce the temptation to people who don’t have access to pay to view services to go and watch the match somewhere else.”

Sky Sports did not respond to The National’s request for a comment, but SPFL chief Neil Doncaster said last night that Sturgeon’s appeal to the broadcaster had not been successful.

He told BBC Sportsound: “It’s unreasonable to ask Sky Sports to give up Scottish football’s crown jewels.”