The Scottish government has accused Aberdeen players of putting the return of football at risk following a “clear breach” of coronavirus protocols.
Scottish football authorities have been summoned to a meeting by sports minister Joe FitzPatrick today after eight Dons players were instructed to self-isolate for up to two weeks following two positive Covid-19 tests.
Reports claim all eight were in a bar in Aberdeen on Saturday night after their team’s 1-0 defeat by Rangers, which was the first competitive Scottish football match since mid-March.
Stricter lockdown restrictions were reimposed in the city on Wednesday following an outbreak linked to pubs and bars – 79 cases had been identified by Thursday with dozens more potential cases under investigation.
Aberdeen’s Scottish Premiership match against St Johnstone in Perth on Saturday remained on following talks with government officials on Thursday night, but the Dons will be without the eight players for their next three matches while they self-isolate.
One player’s positive private test was backed up by an NHS test, with the other waiting for his to be verified. Both were asymptomatic. The other six players were deemed by health officials to have been in close contact with the player who definitely has the virus.
“The Scottish Government is disappointed by the actions of these individuals who have put at risk the return of professional football in Scotland,” a spokesman said. “This was a clear breach of the rules that were put in place by the SFA, the SPFL and the Scottish Government.
“As this outbreaks highlights, it’s imperative that these strict protocols are diligently followed in order to ensure the continued safe resumption of the sport.
“In light of the ongoing public health situation and the local restrictions that are in place to contain the spread of Covid-19 in Aberdeen City, minister for public health and sport Joe FitzPatrick has called a meeting with the SFA and SPFL to discuss the situation at Aberdeen Football Club.
“The Scottish Government is clear that it is only by following the rules and keeping people safe that football is able to continue. No-one wants to see the season put at risk.
“Officials will also be meeting with all club captains and managers in the next few days to emphasise the guidelines and their importance.”
Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes saw his training session cancelled on Thursday and the coach will have a severely depleted squad for the Perth trip as well as subsequent games at home to Hamilton and at Celtic Park.
Aberdeen chairman Dave Cormack said: “Given the efforts of everyone at the club and our investment in protecting our most valuable assets, this is a bitter blow. With two first-team players testing positive for Covid-19, plus six others having to isolate for 14 days, it is also a harsh reminder of the severity and speed of spread of this virus.
“The club will be carrying out a full investigation but, as an immediate first step, we have reinforced the club’s Covid-19 protocols and the governing bodies’ guidance with every player and member of staff and will continue to regularly educate and remind everyone of what is, and what is not, acceptable in the current climate.
“We now have to focus on preparing for Saturday’s game under extremely difficult circumstances.”
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