The actions of players at the centre of a Covid-19 storm have left Aberdeen supporters feeling embarrassed and let down, said manager Derek McInnes.
He accepts the Red Army deserves better.
Aberdeen’s scheduled game with St Johnstone today was postponed after eight players were forced to self-isolate.
Those players had been socialising in a city centre bar following Saturday’s 1-0 loss to Rangers.
Aberdeen had gone to extensive, and expensive, measures to adopt a bio-secure training hub at Cormack Park.
Those players burst this bubble and are now all in isolation after two tested positive for coronavirus.
They will quarantine for 10 days, while the other six self-isolate for 14 days.
McInnes said: “For our supporters there is that impact, the embarrassment really, that they can’t get to see the team play.
“The fact they’ll feel let down.
“The players are full of remorse, full of regret. They’ve made a real bad error of judgement and it’s came back to bite them severely.”
Throughout the pandemic, Aberdeen – in co-operation with the club’s Community Trust – have gone above and beyond to help vulnerable and isolated supporters.
It was a time of unity, with the Red Army reciprocating by buying in excess of 7,500 season tickets.
For some supporters who have made countless sacrifices during the pandemic, their connection with, and trust in, the club could be damaged by recent events.
McInnes said: “The supporters deserve better, they stepped up and fully supported us.
“They should expect better from the players. I can assure them the club have done everything they can to minimise the risk.
“We’ve now got a cancelled fixture and it looks to the wider audience that we can’t deal with what we’ve got to deal with.
“For that, we’re disappointed and want to ensure to everyone that’s not the case.
“They weren’t going out partying. They went out for dinner, and they then made the wrong decision, I feel, to go into a bar in Aberdeen.
“I’m not happy about that aspect of it at all. That’s where they’ve really let themselves down.”
Aberdeen’s matches with Hamilton (Wednesday, Pittodrie) and Celtic (Saturday, Parkhead) are still scheduled to proceed as planned.
Confirmation came following a meeting of the Joint Response Group and despite fresh lockdown restrictions in the Granite City due to an outbreak in excess of 100 cases.
The Dons, and Scottish football, have been thrown into unwanted limelight over the debacle.
McInnes said: “The greater, wider area in Aberdeen is in such a difficult situation to deal with at the minute.
“We’re disappointed that our players have put us in the spotlight rather than just Aberdeen itself. For that, we’re deeply sorry.”
After a meeting yesterday between the Minister for Public Health, Sport and Wellbeing, Joe FitzPatrick, SFA chief executive Ian Maxwell and SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster to examine the situation at the Dons, the Scottish Government requested football chiefs postponed today’s match.
Aberdeen chairman Dave Cormack said: “With the pressure over this season’s fixtures, and the fact that we caused this problem, we were fully prepared to play the game.
“We are very grateful that the decision has been to postpone, rather than forfeit the game. I took the opportunity to apologise to both football and health authorities, and to our fellow premiership clubs.
“Regrettably, what has happened in the last few days has undermined all the hard work that has gone into keeping our players and staff safe.
“We are now dealing with this internally.”