NICOLA Sturgeon has urged football fans considering flouting Covid restrictions to watch today’s Old Firm match to think of their loved ones.

Speaking at the Scottish Government’s daily coronavirus briefing, she warned that supporters meeting up in houses or travelling over the Border for the game could ultimately put lives at risk.

The First Minister said she struggled to understand why supporters would break the strict rules to watch a football match. “It’s not the biggest sacrifice I’ve asked people to make over the past seven months,” she said.

Today’s game is the first Celtic-Rangers Glasgow derby to be played without a crowd.

Currently, pubs in the central belt are closed and there’s a ban on household visits, meaning fans will only be able to watch the game on their own TV if they have access to Sky Sports.

Pubs in Blackpool and Carlisle have reportedly been inundated with requests from Glasgow-based supporters to watch the match in their premises. The First Minister said: “I know there might be a temptation to try and get around local or national restrictions in this way but it is really important that you don’t do that.

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“In general right now people in the central belt should be avoiding travel to other parts of Scotland and all of us should be avoiding travelling to areas in England that have high infection levels.

“So please don’t travel to other parts of Scotland or across the Border just in an attempt to watch the match in a pub. It’s really not worth the risk.”

She added: “I know how important football is, but people over the last seven months have been asked to make the most horrendous sacrifices. People have not been able to get married normally, people have not been able to attend funerals of those nearest to them right now, none of us can go and visit our family in their houses.

“I’d love nothing more tomorrow, literally nothing more, than to go visit my mum and dad. I can’t do that, they can’t visit me.”

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, or not to go to somebody else’s house – I’ll be really pretty blunt here – that’s not the biggest sacrifice I’ve asked people to make over the past seven months.”

She called on fans to think of vulnerable people in their own lives.

“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 – but we could 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.”

Earlier in the day, Labour’s Ian Murray called for the game to be postponed. He said that it was extraordinary that the game was still being played when there might be a public health risk.

The Edinburgh South MP told the BBC: “We’ve got businesses in my constituency and right across Scotland closing down, we’ve got people worried about their livelihoods, we’ve got people really worried about the spread of Covid in this second wave and really if there’s a threat to public health it should be postponed.”

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Asked about the call, Sturgeon said it was not within her power. She said “the vast majority of football supporters will behave responsibly” and that postponing the match was unnecessary.

The First Minister said another 1196 coronavirus cases have been recorded in Scotland over the last 24 hours, accounting for 16.9% of those newly tested.

There were also nine deaths of people who tested positive for the virus in the last 28 days, taking the total under that measurement to 2594. Among the new cases, 416 were in Greater Glasgow and Clyde, 309 were in Lanarkshire, 161 were in Lothian and 104 were in Ayrshire and Arran.

Meanwhile, Sturgeon said Boris Johnson had agreed to discussions on a travel ban between parts of the UK.

She said: “Given the nature of travel, particularly around the border of Scotland and England and England and Wales, the more we can align our approaches here – whether that is an aligned approach around guidance for where people should or shouldn’t be travelling to or an aligned approach around enforcement – I think it would be helpful if we could reach that and we will see where those discussions get to.”