Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): stadium sector guidance for professional football and rugby

Guidance on professional football and professional rugby for the stadium sector, including an operational guide and checklist.

7 page PDF

240.8 kB

7 page PDF

240.8 kB

Coronavirus (COVID-19): stadium sector guidance for professional football and rugby

7 page PDF

240.8 kB


In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the First Minister announced Scotland would be entering a lockdown on 23 March 2020. Under law, the Scottish Government must review that lockdown at least every three weeks (most recently on 20 August). The Coronavirus (COVID-19): framework for decision making – Scotland’s route map through and out of the crisis, was published on 21 May and sets out the phases by which we will aim to ease lockdown. They will be gradual and incremental and will be matched with careful monitoring of the virus. Professional sport sector was able to resume in Phase 2 behind closed doors, and limited numbers of spectators were permitted in Phase 3.

Physical distancing duties are set out in regulation 4(1) of the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions) (Scotland) Regulations 2020. A person who is responsible for carrying on a business or providing a service must take all reasonable measures:

  • to ensure a distance of 2 metres is maintained between any persons on the premises (except between members of the same household or a carer and the person assisted by the carer)
  • to ensure they only admit people to their premises in sufficiently small numbers to make it possible to maintain that distance
  • to ensure a distance of 2 metres is maintained between any person waiting to enter the premises (except between members of the same household or a carer and the person assisted by the carer). NB – where a detailed risk assessment has taken place and 2 metre distancing cannot be maintained due to further risk, then the appropriate measures including PPE will be issued.

We need a strong professional sport sector to help drive Scotland's economic recovery and future prosperity, as well as inspiring the delivery of positive wider outcomes. National Associations (NAs) and Professional Clubs with stadiums should therefore use this guidance to look forward and engage with representative organisations and / or trades unions to develop workplace specific plans for a managed transition away from current restrictions, allowing sufficient time for that joint work.

We have worked with representative organisations and trades unions to ensure this guidance is evidence-based, fair and ethical, clear and realistic. As each venue is different, NAs and Professional Clubs with stadiums should work with representative organisations and / or trades unions to determine how best to apply this guidance in their specific circumstances. 

This guide is underpinned by a spirit of collaboration. Throughout, the term “representative organisations and / or trades unions”  is used in that context, recognising NAs and Professional Clubs with stadiums have a legal responsibility to maintain workplace health and safety and must consult with the health and safety representative selected by the recognised representative body or trade union or, if there is not one, a representative chosen by employees. 

The guidance recognises in particular the importance of undertaking a robust and ongoing risk based assessment with full input from trade union or workforce representatives, and to keep all risk mitigation measures under regular review so that workplaces continue to feel, and be, safe.

And while those plans should be fully developed, with measures put in place and tested where possible, they should not be implemented as yet. Decisions on the phasing of a general sector wide return of spectators to professional sport will be made in line with the Route Map.

The Scottish Government has initiated a broad collaborative process to develop sectoral guidance which will underpin that risk-based and proportionate managed transition and provide clarity and confidence to industry, employees and local communities, protect public health and concurrently optimise economic recovery. Aligned with that we are reviewing and enhancing testing and enforcement arrangements, and ensuring that the guidance is coherent and connected, recognising for example transport and other inter-dependencies.

This guidance is intended to work alongside appropriate UK Government guidance on issues Reserved to the UK Parliament and aims to assist employers, businesses and their workforce ensure a safe working environment and readers will recognise consistent themes within this guidance with the UK Government’s working safely during COVID-19 publications.

This guidance should be read in conjunction with our business and physical distancing guidance, which still applies.

Other key guidance includes:

  • HPS: COVID-19 Non Healthcare Settings guidance which provides information on the background to COVID-19, symptoms, general principles of infection prevention and control and health protection measures and what to do if someone becomes unwell on site
  • NHS Inform, which has a wide range of useful public-facing information including details on symptoms and what to do
  • the Test and Protect website contains information on how people who are self-isolating can get tested.

This sectoral guidance is supported by a wide range of detailed guidance for football and rugby.

This is provided as guidance only and does not amount to legal advice. NAs and Professional Clubs may wish to seek their own advice to ensure compliance with all legal requirements. 

Business support

There has been an unprecedented package of support announced from both the Scottish and UK Governments to support businesses. This support should help many employers preserve their business, maintain jobs and pay their workers throughout this crisis.

Information on this support is available through We urge all businesses to make use of this. In the event of closures for the professional sport sector, all available support measures must be utilised to protect jobs and incomes.

​​​​​​​Page last updated: 3 September 2020​​​​​​​

First published: 3 Sep 2020 Last updated: 3 Sep 2020 -