THE Scottish Football League Cup Final “could well have been” a super spreader Covid-19 event, Deputy First Minister John Swinney has said.

BBC Scotland Drivetime presenter Nick Sheridan asked Swinney: “Was the Cup Final a super spreader event and why did it go ahead?”

Swinney replied: “It could well be.

“I think it stands to reason that if we have large numbers of people, 50,000 fans travelling towards a sporting event in one particular part of the country, using multiple modes of transport and interacting with each other – there is a very high danger that will be a super spreader event.

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“I regret the fact we didn’t make this decision earlier.”

Sheridan said: “Celtic has requested the SPFL bring forward the winter break – does that sound like a good idea?”

“I think that is a very good idea,” answered Swinney. “I welcome the intervention and I see that other football clubs have been making much the same point.

“I think that is welcome and recognises the contribution that all of us have to make to deal with the situation we face.

“I totally appreciate the frustration and irritation that football fans will feel about all of this.”

Speaking as tighter restrictions were imposed on Scots, including the cancellation of Edinburgh’s Hogmanay event, Mr Swinney also discussed the hospitality sector, which faces returning to table service and possibly a shutdown.

Swinney said: “Quite clearly the physical distancing between groupings is applied in hospitality settings.

“I think it’s pretty clear that’s going to have complications for the operation of the nightclub sector.

“But we’ll engage actively with that sector about what the practical implications.”

Asked if nightclubs may have to close, Swinney said: “That is a possibility.

“We will engage with the sector on the practicalities of implications of changes to rules.”

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Swinney added: “We’ve had to take some very difficult decisions because of the twist and challenge of omicron variant.

“Cases have risen by 50% in the space of a week.

“We’re putting in place about £375 million to support the business community.

“We will discuss with the sectors, but we have to react to protect public health.”