Return of Scottish football 'put at risk' by virus breaches

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Scottish ministers have accused Aberdeen players of putting the return of football at risk following a "clear breach" of coronavirus protocols.

The Scottish football authorities were summoned to a meeting by sports minister Joe Fitzpatrick on Friday after eight Dons players were instructed to self-isolate for up to two weeks following two positive tests.

Reports say all eight were in a bar in Aberdeen on Saturday after their team's 1-0 defeat by Rangers, which was the first competitive Scottish football match since mid-March.

Stricter lockdown restrictions were reimposed in the city this week following an outbreak linked to pubs and bars - 79 cases had been identified by Thursday with dozens more potential cases under investigation.

Aberdeen's Scottish Premiership match against St Johnstone in Perth on Saturday remains on but the Dons will be without the eight players for their next three matches while they self-isolate.

One player's positive private test was backed up by a health service test, with another waiting for his to be verified. Both were asymptomatic. The other six players were deemed by health officials to have been in close contact with the player who definitely has the virus.

"The Scottish government is disappointed by the actions of these individuals who have put at risk the return of professional football in Scotland," a spokesman said. 

"This was a clear breach of the rules that were put in place by the SFA (Scottish Football Association), the SPFL (Scottish Professional Football League) and the Scottish government.

"As this outbreaks highlights, it's imperative that these strict protocols are diligently followed in order to ensure the continued safe resumption of the sport."

The spokesman added that officials would also be meeting with all club captains and managers to emphasise the guidelines.

Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes's training session was cancelled on Thursday and the Dons boss will have a severely depleted squad for the Perth trip as well as games at home to Hamilton and at Celtic Park.

Aberdeen chairman Dave Cormack described the situation as "a bitter blow" and promised the club would carry out a full investigation.

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