Jack Grealish and Ross Barkley: Aston Villa pair avoid punishment after breaking coronavirus rules

Aston Villa pair went for a meal in Mayfair on the weekend to celebrate Ross Barkley's 27th birthday; Villa boss Dean Smith felt uneasy about reminding his squad about upholding regulations as they 'eat together daily' but 'can't go out for lunch in a restaurant with each other'

Jack Grealish and Ross Barkley have been spoken to about their behaviour
Image: Jack Grealish and Ross Barkley have been spoken to about their behaviour

Aston Villa's Jack Grealish and Ross Barkley have avoided punishment after breaking coronavirus restrictions over the weekend.

Barkley, on loan from Chelsea, celebrated his 27th birthday with a meal attended by the Villa captain at a restaurant in Mayfair.

With London in Tier 2, the team-mates were in breach of the rule preventing individuals from separate households who are not in a support bubble from meeting in 'any indoor setting, whether at home or in a public space'.

This is not the first time Grealish has been pulled up for failing to adhere to coronavirus restrictions. He was fined by Villa and apologised after breaking national lockdown guidelines in March.

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Smith wanted to remind his players of their responsibilities as representatives of the club but said he felt uneasy telling his players off for eating together - something, he pointed out, they do every day at the training ground.

Smith said: "I have reminded Jack and Ross of their responsibilities but I've also reiterated that to the whole group of players.

"They have responsibilities as representatives of Aston Villa Football Club.

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Dean Smith
Image: Dean Smith has reminded his players they are representing Aston Villa

"These are challenging times for all of us. I can't pretend I enjoyed having to explain the latest COVID-19 regulations - that travelling from Tier 2 to Tier 2 is not a problem but, even though the players all eat together daily, they can't go out for lunch in a restaurant with each other.

"Jack and Ross both returned negative tests, having been tested earlier in the week."

'It's not something I look fondly on' - Grealish on first lockdown rule break

Jack Grealish spoke to Sky Sports' The Football Show in June about how he responded to breaking the government guidelines set out during the first national lockdown.

"It is not something I look fondly on," he said.

"At the time I knew I had made a mistake. But sometimes it is difficult for us as footballers because we are role models and celebrities and we all do make mistakes. I tried to make amends straightaway by coming out and doing a public apology. I didn't want to hide behind a club statement, so I came out an apologised myself.

"And then I tried to do stuff for the NHS and for certain charities. I made a big donation myself to the NHS and I also raffled off my shirt which I scored the winning goal against Blues in.

"It's something I don't look back on with pride and like I said, we all make mistakes."

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