So far, it is clear that Covid hygiene rules were not followed at St Mirren, where seven non-playing staff tested positive for the virus. Additionally, the SFA have launched an investigation into allegations Newco fielded nine players against Dundee United on Wednesday without receiving the required negative test results.
The anomaly came to light because Newco arranged two games on Wednesday. Motherwell, their opponents in the second game, had their results delayed by the same testing backlog. This brought attention to the fact that neither club received the all-clear until Wednesday evening, several hours after the Newco-Dundee United game.
There are significant health and commercial risks at play here. The seven staff at St Mirren could easily (and may have) infect the playing staff. If St Mirren then played a game, the virus would almost certainly infect not only the rest of the team but their opponents. Games involving these teams would be postponed for weeks, perhaps months. Dozens of carriers would travel home from that game and Scotland would have a fresh wave to worry about.
The SFA Joint Response Group reached a deal with the Scottish Government on how and when to return to training and then games, all predicated on safety rules being adhered to. Celtic, and others, have transformed their stadiums into an environment where socially distanced spectators can attend safely and be seen to do so.
They want fans back soon and wait on Government clearance. That possibility disappeared yesterday, when allegations emerged that one club has been cheating. Football is as trustworthy as its greatest rogue. I doubt the SFA considered how to discipline a club that flaunts Covid rules and risks the entire game in this country. No fine would be large enough to match the financial consequences for others.
There is no infection at Ibrox, the pain of any breach there will be felt by fans of all clubs not attending fixtures until later. St Mirren were less negligent but their issue is more serious and spooked me. If this happened in my workplace, when most others have returned to work, it could threaten the entire business. We are going to move into a stage when most of the world is getting on with things, and some businesses will be halted by infection, acute illness and worse.
I have spoken to staff at Celtic who have been impressed at the processes in place to protect club employees from infection, from everything I hear, we are getting things right. The evidence elsewhere is that others are complacent. If that is allowed to continue, next season and the health of many is in jeopardy.
You have to wonder what’s in the water at Ibrox with the incessant flouting of rules.