Celtic manager Neil Lennon has revealed Boli Bolingoli was warned about foreign travel weeks before his one-day trip to Spain last week that breached Covid-19 protocols and has thrown the club’s season, and Scottish football, into chaos.
The Belgian was fully aware of the implications of flying out of the country after being required to self-isolate following a flight he took last month after the club’s pre-season tournament in France.
He followed this with an unauthorised trip to Spain immediately after the Premiership opener against Hamilton Accies. He told no-one at the club about the Spanish jaunt, returned to training and then featured in Sunday’s draw at Kilmarnock.
It was a flagrant disregard for the regulations in place during this health crisis that, coupled with the non-adherence of the rules by eight Aberdeen players, led First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to yesterday state that Scottish football had been given a “yellow card”.
Lennon said yesterday it would be “very, very difficult” for the Belgian to find a way back at the club following actions from the defender he suggested were devious and that yesterday resulted in the postponement of Celtic’s visit to St Mirren and Saturday’s home fixture with Aberdeen. The Celtic manager said he was not aware if Bolingoli made the trip to speak to a club in Spain, as has been rumoured. “He came back from Paris on a commercial flight,” Lennon said of the player’s earlier trip abroad.
“We gave him an extra night and he had to isolate for a couple of days and missed the Hibs game pre-season so he was up to date in particular, and on an individual basis, that he couldn’t travel anymore. What he did was just inexcusable.
“Boli has his own motives for why he did what he did and his own motives for why he kept it to himself.
“For me that speaks volumes, not just of him as a sports person, but of him as a person. It is very, very underhand what he did.
“I am bitterly disappointed and the players are angry, they’re frustrated. But we’ll use it as a motivation going forward. When you book a flight, you know when you are going, you know when you are coming back and none of us were aware of it.
“After the Hamilton game, we made it clear to all of the players they couldn’t leave Glasgow as we gave them a couple of days off, which they deserved. Boli took it upon himself to go to Spain and not tell anyone and not tell anyone when he came back.
“Obviously, we found out about it on Monday and we were just so perplexed, but also in despair of it, really.”
Bolingoli was also issued with a £480 fixed penalty notice by the police for breaching quarantine rules.
Assistant Chief Constable Alan Speirs said: “A 25-year-old man has today been issued with a Fixed Penalty Notice for breaching quarantine regulations. The Chief Constable has made it consistently clear that we should all take personal responsibility to do the right thing and remember the purpose of these measures is to aid the collective effort to stay safe, protect others and save lives by preventing the spread of coronavirus.”
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