The explanation by Queen of the South FC for George Galloway and his family being granted preferential treatment to attend the club’s match on Saturday “adds insult to injury” according to South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth.
Former politician Galloway attended the game between Queens and his native Dundee on Boxing Day, posting a photograph and comments on Twitter from his main stand seat claiming to be a guest of the club.
His attendance at the game came despite Dumfries and Galloway being moved into tier 4 restrictions that day, which forbids clubs having “guests” at matches.
Prior to the Boxing Day lockdown, the region had just moved down into tier 1 restrictions, which would have allowed for a limited number of fans to return to matches. The club had invited season ticket holders to enter a draw for the limited places that would have been available at the Dundee game, but this was scrapped when it was announced by the Scottish Government that all of mainland Scotland including Dumfries and Galloway would be moved into tier 4 restrictions.
However, in a statement today (28 December) the club explained that Galloway had been given permission to attend the game under the tier 1 restrictions, and Queens had failed to inform him he could no longer come to the match when the region was moved into tier 4. Last night (27 December) the club issued an initial apology to supporters “who have been upset” by Galloway’s attendance, but failed to provide any explanation.
Colin Smyth believes the latest statement adds insult to injury given that the club have admitted that not only had George Galloway been allowed to attend the game in breach of COVID rules, but he had initially been given preferential treatment over ordinary fans who had to apply for a ballot for the limited number of places that would have been provided for the game had the region still been under tier 1 restrictions.
Colin Smyth said, “Like all season ticket holders I’ve missed getting along to Queens matches but accept you follow the rules and watch the game online. On the day that fans were set to be allowed to return to Palmerston, only for that to be scuppered by the move into tougher restrictions, it’s a real kick in the teeth for supporters that the club gave special treatment to Galloway. To add insult to injury the club have now admitted that not only was he allowed to attend in breach of the COVID rules, he had been given preferential treatment to come to the match if we had been in tier 1 restrictions, while actual fans had to ballot for the limited number of places that were available. There are supporters who will have hardly missed a match in years until this season and they have been treated abysmally by the actions of Galloway and the club”.
“It’s no secret that Galloway is standing for the Scottish Parliament election in May in South Scotland and has suddenly moved to the region a few weeks before polling day. No doubt he thought that buying a few season tickets and offering to be a sponsor would curry favour with local people. He will have known the rules had changed and he shouldn’t have turned up for the game. He clearly thinks he is above the law and more important than ordinary fans, but his actions have blown up in his face and his bragging about his attendance on social media could well lead to the club being hammered by the authorities. Lessons need to be learned from this and the club need to make sure it doesn’t happen again”.