Celtic in Dubai: Peter Lawwell offers 'profound apology' to supporters after 'regrettable outcome'

Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell has ‘profoundly apologised’ to supporters in wake of the club’s controversial training camp to Dubai.

Celtic Chief Executive Peter Lawwell (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

Christopher Jullien returned from the trip and registered a positive Covid test which ruled 13 players and staff out of Monday’s match with Hibs in isolation procedures.

The Celtic supremo said the training camp in the Middle East was held ‘with the best of intentions’, but now admits the trip was a mistake.

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He said: “With hindsight, looking at the outcome of the trip clearly it was a mistake – for that I profoundly apologise to our supporters.

“The rationale for the camp was with the very best of intentions. Things haven't gone the way we wanted them to and the outcome is clearly very regrettable.

“Over the past four years going to the camp in Dubai has been extremely successful. The decisions were made entirely for the best interests of the team and the club. We planned to take them to these facilities again, which are world class, after a very very hectic programme in November and December.

"In the past this has proven to be a great benefit in terms of performance after January – we would take them there, come back and get to that performance level again - that was the rationale.

“We were permitted to go but clearly the landscape has changed significantly in the run-up.

Celtic's players arrive back from Dubai at Glasgow Airport on January 08, 2021, in Glasgow, Scotland.

"Dubai's infection rate was still in the green corridor right up to the point when we left. We were deploying the same protocols as we have done since the bubbles started in June and we haven't had one positive up until this stage using own protocols - we've been to the Europa League, training camp in the summer, and the protocols we use when travelling and operating here in Scotland. The protocols are robust and proven and put in place for the Dubai trip.

“Overall the decision to go was for the right reasons – it was performance. Of course at the end of the day for outcome of that has been really disappointing.”

Mr Lawwell also railed against criticism of the club, accusations of arrogance, and attempted to reassure a supporter-base which has been angry at several points over recent months.

"I think it's unfair,” he said. “I do understand people questioning the decision to go. This club operates in values and standards in terms of integrity, respect and humility developed over the years and we haven't compromised on these.

Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell. (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)

“We have done an awful lot as a club and the attitude has been responsible in protecting our people and players. We have been at the forefront of getting Scottish football back playing. Through our Foundation we donated over £1m to people affected by this horrendous pandemic.

"I would like to reassure supporters that the club that they believe they have is here, we have made a mistake and we apologise for that but the club they would like to have and have had is here.

“For our supporters and our community we really have to stick together and be united and face challenges together.

"We're going to keep fighting over the coming months to put the club in a position that can maximise the potential and take this magnificent football club as far as it possibly can.”

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