Aberdeen legend Jim Bett has urged Scottish football to take heed of the government’s latest warning – or risk a complete shutdown.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon issued a “yellow card” to the Premiership after another breach of lockdown restrictions.
Aberdeen’s scheduled game tonight against Hamilton has been postponed, as has this weekend’s trip to face champions Celtic.
The Dons’ scheduled clash at St Johnstone on Saturday was already axed after eight Aberdeen players went to a city centre bar in breach of lockdown restrictions.
In a fresh blow for Scottish football, Celtic’s Boli Bolingoli broke quarantine rules by flying to Spain, meaning he should have self-isolated for 14 days.
The Belgian did not inform the Hoops of his trip, nor did he quarantine.
Dons legend Bett is now based in Icelend, where football is suspended due to a recent spike in Covid-19 cases.
He said: “Everyone in Scottish football must take heed of the guidance otherwise the game could be shut down.
“The recent Aberdeen and Celtic incidents have been very high profile, so hopefully everyone gets the message and realises how serious this is.
“When you are a football player, you are very fit and think you are immune to everything – but you are not.
“Hopefully from here on in every footballer will take heed of the guidelines and follow them.”
The first minister has warned if there are further breaches Scottish football could be shut down.
Bett said: “The first minister has set out a plan and rightly expects everyone to follow it.
“She has given a bit of leeway to the Scottish game to try to get football going again.
“It would be devastating if they do shut it down again.
“Supporters were so glad football was back even though they couldn’t go to games.
“Even watching it on television was bringing back some sort of normality.
“Hopefully footballers learn from this about just how serious a situation we are all in.”
Celtic have apologised for Bolingoli’s actions and confirmed they will take disciplinary action against the defender.
The Joint Response Group confirmed that between August 3 and August 9 a total of 1,414 Covid-19 tests were carried out at Scottish Premiership clubs, Championship Hearts, and Glasgow City, with two positive results recorded.
Icelandic football has been suspended for two weeks after a recent spike, although numbers are significantly below Scotland.
Former Scotland midfielder Bett said: “We managed to get back to almost normal before it spiked with tourists coming in so they shut football down as a result.
“The coronavirus numbers were zero today over here so hopefully football will come back on Friday as planned.
“However, we have to remember that even though numbers are going down it only takes a few incidents to get it back up.”
Aberdeen’s clash with Hamilton tonight was initially scheduled to go ahead despite the local lockdown in the Granite City following a Covid-19 cluster linked to city centre bars.
However, after discussions yesterday morning with the Minister for Public Health, Sport and Wellbeing Joe FitzPatrick a request was received – and subsequently agreed to by the Joint Response Group – for the postponement of the upcoming games over the next week involving Aberdeen and Celtic.
The JRG subsequently offered to work on a range of measures, involving the whole of Scottish professional football, to underpin a commitment to raising public health awareness and reaffirm the collective responsibility of the national game.
Rod Petrie, chairman of the JRG, accepts there is now no margin for error.
Petrie said: “The Joint Response Group has acted swiftly and decisively in addressing the latest concerns raised by the minister on behalf of the Scottish Government.
“While the decision to postpone these games is deeply regrettable nevertheless in the circumstances it is unavoidable and uncontestable.
“The JRG members were astounded to learn of the recklessness demonstrated by Boli Bolingoli-Mbombo in his breach of government public health guidance and football protocols.
“That this comes on the back of eight Aberdeen players showing similar disregard for public health is disrespectful not just to every football team-mate, fellow player and colleague but also to every fan in this country.
“It is also hugely damaging to the image, reputation and sustainability of the game.
“Clubs and players are in no doubt that there is now no more margin for error and no more scope for further breaches.
“Players must heed the warning of the first minister that this is a yellow card moment for Scottish football.”
National Clinical director Jason Leitch said he worked hard on Monday to convince the first minister to give the go-ahead for Aberdeen’s game against Hamilton.
However as he was in a 45-minute Zoom call with all the managers and captains of Premeirship teams to emphasise their responsibilities, news of Balingoli’s breach emerged.
Leitch said: “With Mr FitzPatrick the sports minister I spent a lot of time on Monday to get all our ducks in a row to allow the Aberdeen game to go ahead.
“To persuade the first minister that was the right thing to do.
“If there are breaches from now it is going to be very hard for the advisers to say to the first minister we have confidence in the sport bubbles.”
SPFL Chief Executive Neil Doncaster hit out at the “thoughtless” and “selfish” acts of a minority who delivered a kick in the teeth to players and officials.
He said: “The vast majority of players and officials who have strictly observed the necessary restrictions will rightly see this as a real kick in the teeth.”