Hibernian manager Jack Ross has called for greater clarity over the way Scottish football deals with coronavirus cases.
Doubt had been cast over today’s match against St Mirren in Paisley after Buddies goalkeeper Jak Alnwick tested positive at the beginning of the week and a second player’s results were flagged when further screening was carried out on Thursday and a fellow keeper has been instructed to sit out the game in case he is incubating the virus.
Those who have returned positive tests are isolating and with Renfrewshire already subjected to tighter restrictions after the number of cases in the area spiked, there was speculation that the match would be postponed.
The game goes ahead but Ross feels that the current lack of clear guidelines fed the uncertainty that both teams and their fans had to contend with in the build up.
“I think clarity and knowing exactly where we stand in each situation [would help]. It would be wrong for me to say we’d know exactly what to do every time because there will be situations that we maybe couldn’t prepare for. But I think we should be asking: “Right, what if this happens? What are the consequences in that situation?” Then it’s pretty straightforward. I think it’s just about making sure everyone understands it completely .
“There’s been talk about it in wider society, about people understanding what the rules are, and what we should do, because that changes a lot. But I think they’re at least there for us and we can adhere to them.
“There are certain hard and fast things that happen in football that you know would disrupt your plans, even during a match so whether we agreed with the rules or not, I think we would get used to them pretty quickly.”
Already this season Aberdeen have had two players testing positive, and others breaching social distancing rules, and their subsequent games were postponed. Celtic also had to sit idle after Boli Bolingoli broke protocols by taking an unsanctioned trip to Spain then returning to action without quarantining. Although, he tested negative for coronavirus.
Hibs also had to play their recent match against the Dons without key midfielder Alex Gogic, who registered a false positive. And although subsequent tests ruled out Covid, the Cypriot footballer was forced to isolate. The game proceeded as planned, though.
That lack of consistency in the way the authorities dealt with each case caused confusion in the wake of this week’s test result at St Mirren.
That was unnecessary, according to Ross, who had hoped that the confusion surrounding the Gogic case may have focused minds and prompted the drawing up of some kind of go-to guidelines.
Although, with more cases likely at clubs across the country as players come into contact with the virus as lockdown is relaxed, his view is that games should go-ahead, if possible.
“If you look at players being unavailable then it shouldn’t be any different from any normal circumstances where a player is maybe unavailable due to food poisoning or a sickness bug, flu, hamstring injury, whatever.
“If you are without five players then you get on with it. That happens. I think that is more a question for a wider group, in terms of whether there is too great a risk of transmission, and I don’t know the answer to that. But from a football point of view, once we know there is no risk from a health point of view, then I don’t see why it should be any different to being without players through illness or injury or any other reasons.
“There have also been times where you start to get down to low numbers. All that does is afford an opportunity to younger players. But I get that things are maybe a bit more complicated at the moment. For example, if you were to lose players from your squad, there are young players at the club who aren’t being tested and are training outside your bubble. They then can’t be considered for selection.
There are those type of complications to consider.
“I think it’s just about understanding where you stand in certain circumstances.”
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