Nicola Sturgeon casts doubt over Celtic and Aberdeen matches after coronavirus rule breaches

Sturgeon's comments come after Celtic's Boli Bolingoli broke quarantine rules, days after Aberdeen players tested positive for coronavirus following bar visit

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has been briefing the Scottish Assembly on the country's next coronavirus steps 2:44
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said we should not expect Celtic and Aberdeen to play football over the coming week

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has warned fans they should "not expect to see Aberdeen or Celtic play over the course of the coming week" after a series of coronavirus rule breaches.

Sturgeon accused players of being "incapable of living up to their responsibilities" after Celtic's Boli Bolingoli broke coronavirus quarantine rules before playing in their 1-1 draw with Kilmarnock on Sunday.

Bolingoli travelled to Spain ahead of the match and did not quarantine on his return - something the club were unaware of until after the game.

Scottish Premiership under threat - a timeline

  • Aug 1: Scottish Premiership season starts. Aberdeen lose opener 1-0 to Rangers. Eight players visit Aberdeen city centre bar after the defeat.
  • Aug 5: Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announces lockdown measures to be reimposed in Aberdeen after spike in coronavirus cases.
  • Aug 7: Aberdeen's match at St Johnstone called off at request of government after two Dons players test positive for coronavirus after bar visit on Aug 1 that breached social distancing rules. Six more players ordered to self-isolate.
  • Aug 8: Eight Aberdeen players - Jonny Hayes, Michael Devlin, Scott McKenna, Matty Kennedy, Sam Cosgrove, Dylan McGeouch, Craig Bryson and Bruce Anderson - issue apology for bar visit.
  • Aug 8: Celtic striker Leigh Griffiths reminded of responsibilities after hosting birthday party for his girlfriend that breached government guidelines.
  • Aug 11: Scottish government threatens to to 'pause' Premiership after news that Celtic's Boli Bolingoli broke quarantine rules. Celtic blast 'irresponsible' Bolingoli and apologise to all clubs.
  • Aug 11: Following talks between SPFL and Scottish government, Sturgeon says Celtic, Aberdeen fans should not expect to see their sides play in coming week.

It came just days after Aberdeen's trip to St Johnstone was called off due to two of their players testing positive for coronavirus.

Eight Dons players later issued public apologies for breaking guidelines by visiting a bar following their opening-day defeat to Rangers on August 1.

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has been briefing the Scottish Assembly on the country's next coronavirus steps 2:44
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said we should not expect Celtic and Aberdeen to play football over the coming week

In a press conference on Tuesday, First Minister Sturgeon said: "I don't want the season to be in jeopardy. I don't want people who are not responsible for this to pay the price but we have to be very clear that this situation is not acceptable.

"We'll set out the conclusion of the talks later today but as a minimum, you should not expect to see Aberdeen or Celtic play over the course of the coming week.

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"By putting this is as clearly as I can in language that the football world will understand, consider today the yellow card. The next time it will be the red card because you will leave us with absolutely no choice."

Ryan Christie
Image: Celtic are due to face St Mirren on Wednesday, with Aberdeen scheduled to host Hamilton

She added: "Every day I stand here and ask members of the public to make huge sacrifices in how they live their lives.

"And the vast majority of members of the public are doing that and it's not easy. We can't have privileged football players just deciding they are not going to bother. This can't go on."

Celtic are due to play St Mirren on Wednesday, with Aberdeen scheduled to host Hamilton on the same evening. Both matches are now in doubt following Sturgeon's comments - as is Saturday's meeting between Celtic and Aberdeen.

'They've put the population's health at risk'

National Clinical Director of the Scottish government, Jason Leitch, says he was disappointed with the recent rule breaches after holding talks with Premiership clubs.

He said: "I spent 45 minutes with the captains and managers of our clubs. That meeting went very well. I was given a good hearing. I told them of the dangers of the virus.

"They put at risk two things. They put at risk principally the health of the population. Irrespective of if you're a footballer, a factory worker, a schoolteacher or whoever you are. If you break the guidance you put at risk your own health and the health of your loved ones.

Celtic defender Boli Bolingoli 1:29
The Scottish Government's National Clinical Director Professor Jason Leitch says the players in the Scottish Premiership who have broken coronavirus rules have risked the health of the public, and also risked the return of other elite sports.

"That's the most important thing for footballers to understand. But they have an added responsibility because they put at risk the return of elite sport. Not just their own sport, but golf, horse racing, rugby, swimming, everything else.

"We've designed a bubble system. Because they are privileged they are getting to do extra things that the rest of the population aren't. And they have put that at risk. So I hope you can hear in my voice how disappointed I was yesterday to hear of another.

"It's not just this one player, it's a series of breaches now that we have to get the SPFL and the SFA and the clubs to address. It's not my job to address them. I think our guidance and our rules are crystal clear."

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