STEVE Clarke has admitted it will be devastating for Scotland if they are unable to play their Euro 2020 matches at Hampden because of the Covid-19 pandemic and expressed hope Holyrood can provide UEFA with the assurances they have demanded.

European football’s governing body has asked to receive confirmation from all 12 host nations by April 7 that their stadiums will be between 20 and 30 per cent full when the tournament gets underway in June.

Clarke, whose team is set to play Group D matches against the Czech Republic and Croatia in Glasgow in June, confessed it will be a setback for the national team if their games have to be switched to different venues in another country.

“It would be a blow,” he said. “We have to be guided by the pandemic first and foremost. That is going to determine everything.

“There seems to be a little bit more hope around the vaccinations. We seem to be getting on top of it that way.  I got my first vaccination last week so I am in that process. No side effects, everything good.

“It is going to be great if we can get a crowd into Hampden. It is going to be great if we can have those matches in Scotland in the summer. But it is really out of my hands. It is not something that I can control. It is not something that anybody can do anything about.

“I would like to think there will be enough time for the Scottish government to convince UEFA that there will be a crowd of sorts at Hampden. Will it be a full house? I don’t think so. But hopefully we can meet the required amount to make it happen.

“Listen, the stadiums are empty at the moment. Any crowd that we get in Hampden will be a big step forward. The more we can get the better. Like I said before, hopefully the Scottish government can confirm that to UEFA and we can get the games on at Hampden. Because that is what we want.

“We all want the tournament to go ahead in its original format and that applies for every country that has got games. They all want the games to be played in their original format. If we can get that in the summer it will be good.”

Meanwhile, Clarke has revealed that Scotland offered to play Austria away from home in their opening 2022 World Cup qualifier next Thursday night after their Group F rivals’ German-based players were told they would have to quarantine for 14 days if they travelled to the United Kingdom. 

“We have 100 per cent sympathy with the Austrians in the situation they find themselves in,” he said. “To be fair to ourselves, I believe that in discussions with UEFA and Austria we offered to flip the fixtures, which was quite a fair offer.

“But the problem it gave Austria was three home games in March and three away games in September. I can see their reasoning, why they didn’t want three games away in September, because we had the same last November.

“By the time we got to the Israel game, the third game in the road trip, the boys were pretty much emotionally and physically drained. I can understand why they’ve gone the way they’ve chosen to go. They must be confident that they can get a strong Austrian team on the pitch even without so many players from Germany.”