WE have waited a long time for the European Championships this summer and we have now found out that Scotland will get to play two matches at Hampden.

I have always felt – right through every lockdown and all the restrictions on our lives – that the thing that would make a real difference was a successful vaccine programme.

That has given people hope and there seems to be real positivity now that the country can move out of this situation, move away from Covid and start to return closer to normality.

From a football perspective, that means having supporters back in the stands. From a Scotland perspective, that means the Tartan Army being able to cheer on Steve Clarke’s side when they face Croatia and the Czech Republic in June.

We all have to keep our glasses half full right now and I was encouraged by the comments from the First Minister on Tuesday.

That confidence paid off on Wednesday when the Scottish FA confirmed that they had submitted proposals that will see 12,000 supporters inside Hampden this summer.

This has been such a long and difficult situation. Just when you thought freedom was round the corner, we took a step back and we were in lockdown again.

My glass is as full as it has been for some time and it would be fantastic if we can indeed get the games at Hampden and get the supporters in for those two huge matches.

Football is nothing without the fans. It has been very different this season and it has been sad to see games being played in front of empty stands.

It will be great to have them back and it was encouraging to see that 4,000 people will be at the FA Cup semi-final between Leicester and Southampton later this month.

There will be double that amount at the Carabao Cup final and 21,000 at the FA Cup final on May 15 and that is a real step forward for football and football fans.

We have to cling to every positive here and embrace this good news that Hampden will get to host its matches at the tournament and that the supporters will be there to see them. It is brilliant to hear and will be brilliant to see.

We can’t be going forward thinking negatively and while we have to understand and respect the situation, there is progress being made thanks to the vaccinations and that augurs well for the future.

Our focus is obviously on Hampden and Wembley given that is where Scotland are due to play their fixtures but UEFA have been in dialogue with host cities across the continent over the last few weeks and they have decisions to make on several venues.

The hopeful host nations have done their bit and submitted their bids so we will have to wait and see what UEFA determine is the best way forward.

The tournament has to be safe for everyone involved but there is nobody within the game that doesn’t want to see the supporters back and the fact that Scotland is in a position to host our fixtures is such a massive boost for our managers, players, staff and fans.

If there have been resurgences of the virus in any country, measures have been taken to control it as quickly as possible and we have to remember that these are life and death situations we are talking about.

We see things through the prism of football and of course that is important, but this is a public health matter and that must always come first and foremost in any decision making.

Having said that, the Championships have to go ahead this summer and they will do. UEFA won’t take any risks, though, and they can’t allow countries that are in any way dubious about their ability to safely host fixtures to play a part in the tournament.

That is why the statement from the SFA on Wednesday was so important and further details will now be forthcoming on tickets and a proposed Fan Zone in Glasgow.

Having come so far, having adhered to the rules and the lifestyle changes for so long, we can’t afford to take any risks here, but what a boost it would be to the country if we do see supporters back inside Hampden in just a few weeks.

If you are in Steve’s position just now, you are just focused on what you can impact and doing what you have to do to prepare for the finals and that is why the fixtures with the Netherlands and Luxembourg have been arranged for early June.

I remember getting advice when I was younger saying that I shouldn’t worry about things that I couldn’t control. You have to focus on your performances and your players and work on things that you can have an influence on.

That is the situation that Steve finds himself in just now. He can’t control where the games will be played or what the protocols will be and he is well-versed in that side of it now having come through more than a year of international football during Covid.

Stevie just has to focus on the football. Hopefully he will have all his best players available to him and he can spend his time working on the plans he thinks will give us a chance of getting out of what is a very tough but exciting group.

The Tartan Army will be counting down the days to the Euros starting. They have waited for so long for this moment and to have Hampden even a quarter full would be terrific.

These guys live for supporting their clubs and their countries and I can’t wait to see the stands filling up once again. It might make tickets even more difficult to come by right enough!