First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed St Johnstone v Aberdeen is now off due to the Covid-19 outbreak at the Dons.
It was confirmed last night two Aberdeen players – who are asymptomatic – had tested positive for the virus, while another six who had come into contact with the positive individuals would have to join them in self isolating. The first positive individual must isolate for 10 days as of Wednesday, while the other seven face 14 days of isolation.
The decision meant eight Dons first-team stars would miss the Premiership game at St Johnstone tomorrow, as well as Hamilton’s Pittodrie visit on Wednesday and the trip to play Celtic at Parkhead next Saturday.
An SFA/SPFL Joint Response Group statement released last night said the televised game against Saints would go ahead, however, the Scottish Government has decided the game cannot take place at this time and must be postponed.
Aberdeen city is currently in a local lockdown due to a spike in cases linked to a cluster of nightspots. All of the affected players were in a bar in the city centre after the 1-0 loss to Rangers on Saturday.
The First Minister said: “They blatantly broke the rules agreed by the SFA, SPFL and Scottish Government. It is completely unacceptable.
“This morning, the Scottish Government convened a meeting with the SFA and SPFL, and – following those discussions – the football authorities have confirmed the game between St Johnstone and Aberdeen in Perth will not go ahead.
“It’s the right decision, we are expecting members of the public to behave in a highly precautionary manner right now and when a football club ends up with players infected with Covid, not through bad luck but through breaches of the rules, we cannot take even a small risk of them spreading it to other parts of the country.”
Players are supposed to be in a “bubble” between their homes and the bio-secure Cormack Park training ground.
The “furious” First Minister added: “Football has been given the go-ahead on the strict condition they abide by the strict conditions agreed. If they don’t do that, they put at risk the return of the professional game.
“I welcome Aberdeen’s statement they have reminded players of their obligations.
“That’s important, footballers as we all know are role models and should behave accordingly.
“It’s also important to remind the clubs to make sure their players are acting responsibly and in line with the guidance.”
During the First Minister’s daily briefing, the SFA/SPFL Joint Response Group released their own statement confirming the game was off, and it is as-yet-unclear whether the Dons’ matches against Hamilton and Celtic will be affected.
It said: “Following a meeting this morning between the Minister for Public Health, Sport and Wellbeing, Joe FitzPatrick, the Scottish FA Chief Executive, Ian Maxwell, and the Chief Executive of the SPFL, Neil Doncaster, to further examine the circumstances around the self-isolation of eight Aberdeen FC players, a request was received from Scottish Government – and agreement reached – to postpone Saturday’s Scottish Premiership match against St Johnstone.
“There is an evolving public health outbreak in Aberdeen and the minister conveyed the need for additional work to provide further assurance around Aberdeen FC’s adherence to the agreed protocols.
“Given the overriding responsibility to public health, the subsequent advice and discussion with the minister this morning means that the Joint Response Group must adhere to the request to postpone the match.”