18 Jun Euro 2020: Excitement builds ahead of England-Scotland kick-off as Tartan Army party in London | UK News
Fans have been arriving at Wembley ahead of tonight’s much-anticipated match between England and Scotland – after hundreds of the Tartan Army partied in London this afternoon.
Around 20,000 Scotland fans have travelled to the capital for the Euro 2020 game, despite being urged by mayor Sadiq Khan not to.
Crowds of supporters wearing their country’s shirts and draped in flags have been chanting, singing and playing bagpipes around Leicester Square, King’s Cross and Hyde Park.
There appeared to be no social distancing as thousands of fans took over Leicester Square, despite warnings from police to follow COVID-19 restrictions.
Videos on social media showed fans doing an enthusiastic rendition of Flower of Scotland after arriving at King’s Cross station.
Many also gathered in Hyde Park, while others set off flares and danced in the rain around Leicester Square.
Sky correspondent Ashna Hurynag said: “Fans have crowded the Square where typically tourists would flock.
“Thousands are thought to have got trains into Kings Cross and Euston stations from Edinburgh and Glasgow.
“Police are on the outskirts of the crowd, observing for now. Their approach one officer tells Sky News is to inform and educate but that they are ‘assessing the mood of the crowd’.
“The atmosphere, for now, is joyous with chants of “Scotland will party” filling the Square.”
The match is the 115th in international football’s oldest rivalry, and the first time the sides have met in a major tournament since Euro 96, when Paul Gascoigne’s famous goal sealed a 2-0 win.
Metropolitan Police have issued a dispersal order for central London – in place until 3pm on Saturday.
Chief Inspector Joe Stokoe said: “We have a flexible policing plan in place to reduce the likelihood of crime, disorder and anti-social behaviour.”
He said officers would be “visible” and engaging with fans to ensure they are safe ahead of the game.
The force has urged people to be respectful of non-football fans and to follow COVID restrictions.
Mr Stokoe warned people to “stay vigilant and report anything suspicious to police” and to not travel into the city if they did not have a ticket to the match.
He added: “We have contingency plans to deal with any number of potential incidents as they arise but my message is clear: if you don’t have a ticket to the matches, fan zone or officially booked into a pub, bar or club, please do not come to London.”
Scotland will be looking to bounce back after their opening defeat against the Czech Republic in what was their first game in a major tournament in 23 years.
England meanwhile got off to a strong start by beating Croatia 1-0 thanks to a Raheem Sterling goal.
If Gareth Southgate’s side win on Friday they will be through to the last 16.
It is an equally huge game for Steve Clarke’s side, who need to avoid a loss if they are to keep their chances alive of getting to the next round.