The Scottish government has warned that the football season could be brought to an abrupt halt soon after starting following the news that a Celtic player breached the coronavirus rules.
The return to action following the shutdown has been thrown into further disarray after it emerged Celtic defender Boli Bolingoli took a secret trip to Spain and failed to self-isolate on his return.
In a statement, the government said it was aware of reports of the player having broken quarantine rules last week. It added: “We are currently in discussion with the club and football governing bodies to establish the facts. If confirmed as another serious incident within Scottish football, where protocols have been breached at the risk of wider public health, then the Scottish government will have little choice but to consider whether a pause is now needed in the resumption of the game in Scotland.”
The left-back came off the bench during Celtic’s 1-1 Premiership draw with Kilmarnock. Spain was restored to the Scottish government’s list of countries from which returning travellers must quarantine themselves for 14 days following a decision which came into effect from midnight on 26 July.
Bolingoli said he wanted to apologise to his manager, team mates, supporters, “and so many others for letting them down so badly”. He added: “I am guilty of a major error of judgement. I know what I did was wrong and I know that I must now deal with the consequences.”
A statement from Bolingoli’s club read: “Celtic Football Club has taken its response to Covid-19 extremely seriously and we are pleased that, to date, we have recorded no positive tests.
“Our staff have given so much in this area, working tirelessly to ensure that all players and other club personnel are safe, fully aware of their own responsibilities and familiar with all guidance and protocols. Safety must always be our priority.
“Clearly, a full investigation will now take place and the club will take all appropriate action. Subsequent to the player’s return he has recorded two negative tests in the past week.”
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon warned Scottish football’s privileges to play during the safety restrictions would be put at risk if a similar situation arose. All 12 Premiership managers and captains held talks with Scottish government officials on Monday evening where they were reminded of their responsibilities over protocols particular to football and also the general public.
Scotland’s national clinical director, Jason Leitch, later stated that Aberdeen’s home game against Hamilton on Wednesday was not certain to go ahead given the spike of cases in the city.
Aberdeen’s game against St Johnstone on Saturday was postponed 24 hours earlier after two Dons players tested positive for Covid-19 and a further six were instructed to self-isolate following a night out in a bar.
Steven Gerrard admits he is concerned that football will be halted if coronavirus mistakes continue to be made. The Rangers boss took part in the talks on Monday where the message about responsibilities were hammered home.
Gerrard said: “It certainly has in terms of me being on that chat yesterday, the severity of the chat, how important it is that everyone behaves in the right way. And it is a concern and a worry because if mistakes continue to happen, there is no doubt about it, the football season will be cancelled and that’s not what I want or what anyone wants at Rangers, or throughout Scottish football.”