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CONFIRMED: CELTIC GAMES V SAINTS, DONS OFF

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CELTIC’S game against St Mirren in Paisley tomorrow night and the visit of Aberdeen on Saturday are OFF, the SFA have confirmed.

First Minister Nicol Sturgeon warned earlier today that fans “should not be expecting to see Aberdeen or Celtic play in the coming week”.

The Scottish Government chief was clearly upset at the sensational news the Hoops’ Belgian defender Boli Bolingoli had ignored guidelines after a secret one-day trip to Spain before returning to Scotland and immediately restarting training with his team-mates.

The left-back didn’t self-isolate for the legal requirement of 14 days and played as a late substitute in the 1-1 draw with Kilmarnock at Rugby Park on Sunday.

Ms Sturgeon had earlier hit out at the actions of eight Aberdeen players who had met for a night-out in a city centre pub with two later testing positive for coronavirus and six others placed in quarantine.

Now the champions have suffered swift retribution for the actions of one of their players who has since proved negative for two Covid-19 tests.

A statement from the SFA read:

During discussions this morning with the Minister for Public Health, Sport and Wellbeing a request was received – and subsequently agreed by the Joint Response Group – for the postponement of the following fixtures:

Wednesday 12 August

Aberdeen v Hamilton Academical
St Mirren v Celtic

Saturday 15 August

Aberdeen v Celtic

These matches have been postponed 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.

During further discussions today with the Minister and government advisers, the JRG has offered to work on a range of measures – which will involve the whole of professional football in Scotland – to underpin a commitment to raising public health awareness and reaffirm the collective responsibility of the national game.

Rod Petrie, chairman of the JRG: “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 incontestable.

“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.

Neil Doncaster, SPFL Chief Executive, added: “We have only been able to restart matches thanks to the enormous efforts and sacrifices of literally thousands of people across the Scottish game. For anyone to put that in jeopardy in such a thoughtless and selfish manner is just beyond belief.

“The vast majority of players and officials who have strictly observed the necessary restrictions will rightly see this as a real kick in the teeth.

“Everyone knows that this season’s fixture schedule is already horrendously tight without having to reschedule matches because of the irresponsible actions of a handful of players.”

 
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