Nicola Sturgeon has refuted claims that rugby fans have received preferential treatment over football supporters as she defended the decision to deny Celtic a trial return at Parkhead this weekend.

Fans were livid after the Scottish government rejected the Hoops' proposal to have around 1,000 fans return to watch them play Motherwell in the Premiership this Sunday. The anger was compiled with the knowledge that some rugby supporters will be allowed inside BT Murrayfield to watch Edinburgh play Glasgow Warriors tomorrow.

Some raged over the 'double standards', but the First Minister has today backed the decision and insists everything is being done to ensure fans can return in the near future - as long as it is safe. And she maintained that it was not a case of rugby versus football.

In her coronavirus update earlier today, she said: "Of course I understand the frustrations that many people in many different walks of life are feeling right now because life isn't normal and we're all really anxious to get life back to normal.

“But let me just be clear what we're doing here with these trial events with spectators back into stadiums. We're not trialling how it works in rugby versus football.“I'll let you into a secret here - the virus doesn't care about the shape of the ball at these events.

“What we are testing is how we can operate within a stadium with spectators and maintain and comply with all of the physical distancing and other hygiene rules. So the learning from rugby will apply to football, because, as I say, it's not specific to rugby versus football."

Sturgeon went on: "The virus really doesn't care what sport it is, it just cares about having people to transmit from one to the other around.“So, the test event that will go ahead tomorrow night at Murrayfield with rugby will allow us to learn and to apply those lessons across different sports.

“And hopefully in the not too distant future, we'll be able to move into having, albeit limited number of spectators, in stadiums for a whole variety of different sports, not on a test or pilot basis but on a more general basis. I would ask spectators and fans, whether it's football or rugby, to bear with us just now.

“We're trying to find the safest ways of getting as much normality back as possible.“It's not about preferring rugby over football, or football over rugby, or any sport or any other sport. It's just trying to keep people as safe as possible as we try to get life back to as much normality as possible.”

The Scots government recently revealed they hoped to have some supporters back within sports stadiums by September 14.