St Mirren have been ordered to face Hibs on Saturday without three goalkeepers.
Two of their keepers have tested positive for Covid-19 and a third has been excluded as a precautionary measure.
Despite this obvious handicap, Scottish football’s Joint Response Group has insisted the game must go ahead in Paisley as scheduled.
Neil Doncaster, the chief executive of the Scottish Professional Football League, admitted it was an “extremely challenging situation” for the Paisley side who must now try to find an emergency goalkeeper.
A statement from the Joint Response Group said: “The Joint Response Group has been in dialogue throughout the day with the Scottish Government’s medical advisers to establish the facts and implications of St Mirren’s positive COVID-19 tests.
“The club informed us that two goalkeepers (Goalkeeper A and Goalkeeper B) have tested positive for COVID-19, confirmed by follow-up NHS tests. As a result, both players will be excluded from the squad for 10 days and pending the return of negative tests.
“The Scottish Government’s Clinical Adviser on COVID & Sports, in conjunction with Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board Health Protection Team and Health Protection Scotland, have confirmed to the JRG that there is not enough evidence to support postponing tomorrow’s Scottish Premiership fixture between St Mirren and Hibernian.
“As a result, the Scottish Professional Football League – as the league body with jurisdiction - have confirmed that the game will go ahead as planned. All St Mirren players will be retested on Sunday ahead of their midweek Scottish Premiership fixture against Celtic.
“In addition, after analysis of club GPS data, the local health board’s Health Protection Team also consider a third goalkeeper, Goalkeeper C, to be at potential risk of transmission given close proximity to team-mates. To mitigate the potential that Goalkeeper C - who returned a negative test - may have the virus in incubation, he will also be excluded as a precaution on the advice of the local health protection team, public health experts and government’s clinical advisers and be re-tested on Sunday.”
Doncaster said: “I understand this is an extremely challenging situation for St Mirren but it demonstrates that the current testing regime is working, by detecting positive COVID-19 tests expeditiously, enabling the appropriate health boards to implement test and protect protocols that isolates those individuals who test positive, but allow football to continue safely and with confidence.
“We have been in dialogue with the club throughout the day and are grateful to the Scottish Government’s Clinical Adviser on COVID & Sports for joining today’s JRG meeting to provide reassurance, clarity and recommendations for consideration based on expert clinical advice.”
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