Celtic and Aberdeen games POSTPONED over next week as Scottish football given stern warning

Celtic star Boli Bolingoli became the latest player to break COVID-19 protocols

Celtic and Aberdeen have had their matches over the next week postponed. Picture: SNS

Celtic’s clash with St Mirren and Aberdeen's match with Hamilton on Wednesday have been postponed, as has the fixture between the two teams on Saturday.

It follows the second breach of protocol by a Scottish Premiership player after Celtic star Boli Bolingoli broke quarantine rules after returning from Spain and subsequently played in the draw with Kilmarnock on Sunday.

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Last week, two Aberdeen players tested positive for COVID-19 and eight in total were required to self-isolate after going out in the city centre after the defeat to Rangers.

The Scottish FA’s chief executive Ian Maxwell and Neil Doncaster, SPFL chief, held talks with the Scottish Government on behalf of Joint Response Group this morning.

A statement from the group confirmed the postponements “in light of ongoing restrictions in Aberdeen and today’s news of a breach of government public health guidance and football protocols involving the Celtic FC player, Boli Bolingoli-Mbombo”.

The SPFL and SFA have offered to “work on a range of measures… to underpin a commitment to raising public health awareness and reaffirm the collective responsibility of the national game.”

Rod Petrie, chair of the JRG, followed Celtic in castigating Bolingoli for his flagrant breach of guidance and called on all players to take on board the warning from First Minister Nicola Sturgeon who called this a yellow card moment for Scottish football.

sHe said: “The Joint Response Group has acted swiftly and decisively in addressing the latest concerns raised by the minister on behalf of Scottish Government.

While the decision to postpone these games is deeply regrettable nevertheless in the circumstances it is unavoidable and uncontestable.

“The JRG members were astounded to learn of the recklessness demonstrated by Boli Bolingoli-Mbombo in his breach of government public health guidance and football protocols. We echo the sentiments of Celtic FC in their condemnatory statement and commend the club’s swiftness in opening a disciplinary investigation.

“That this comes on the back of eight Aberdeen players showing similar disregard for public health is disrespectful not just to every football team-mate, fellow player and colleague but also to every fan in this country. It is also hugely damaging to the image, reputation and sustainability of the game.

“We sympathise with the position this puts the Scottish Government in as the country is tentatively easing its way out of lockdown restrictions.

“We agree wholeheartedly with the unequivocal message relayed to managers and captains by the National Clinical Director for Scotland, Professor Jason Leitch, last night. Clubs and players are in no doubt that there is now no more margin for error and no more scope for further breaches.

“Since March, the Joint Response Group has worked hand-in-hand with government advisers and medical experts to ensure a safe return for the professional game, with clubs undertaking to fulfil their obligations.

“Players must heed the warning of the First Minister that this is a yellow-card moment for Scottish football.”

‘Irresponsible action’

In a statement this morning, Celtic condemned and apologised for their player's behaviour.

It read: “Celtic Football Club unreservedly condemns and apologises for the behaviour of the player Boli Bolingoli in travelling to Spain without informing the club and in failing to observe quarantine restrictions.

“It is difficult to imagine a more irresponsible action in current circumstances and we find it beyond explanation. The Club will take immediate action through our own disciplinary procedures.

“Celtic are in touch with every SPFL club today, and with all relevant authorities, to apologise for the fact that one of our employees has created so much additional difficulty through his actions.

“All of our playing and backroom staff have been tested twice for Covid-19 since this incident and all, including the player in question, have tested negative. While this comes as a relief to all concerned, it in no way diminishes the seriousness or stupidity of the player’s actions.

“Since the Covid -19 crisis began, we have had a safe and healthy squad of players, recording not one positive test. As a club, we have worked tirelessly to ensure a sustained, safe environment for all.

“We have led the way in working with the football authorities and Scottish Government to establish the most rigorous, effective protocols and working practices, which ultimately led to the resumption of football. We could have done no more in this area.

“It is a matter of the deepest regret to us that the behaviour of one individual has jeopardised that reputation and reflected discredit on football more generally.”