I was not planning on doing this piece. In fact, I had started a column on Alfredo Morelos (hopefully will get to it soon), when the news broke.
Today we learnt that a player had tested positive for COVID at Celtic. Truthfully I had been waiting for the other shoe to drop ever since Celtic went on their R&R trip to Dubai. Look, I want everyone to stay fit, and I hope the person who is down with COVID gets fit soon. All the very best wishes to him and his family. However, it would be a dereliction of duty if everyone looks the other way.
Before I get into anything else, there is no question that there were violations of COVID rules that the Scottish Government set out for Celtic. Neil Lennon has admitted on camera that the trip was for a bit of R&R while John Kennedy has also stated on the record that there were minor slip-ups. While Kennedy tried to downplay it, we are now all seeing the consequences of making this trip.
This is what Kennedy said in case you missed out on his interview, “We stayed in our bubble. You guys back here got a snapshot of one or two pictures from locals or people on holiday and it probably paints a false picture.
“There’s been slip-ups with minor things which, if you get a snapshot of something, you can criticise and jump on it.
“We speak to the players as much as we can about the protocols. If there’s any error, we try to eradicate that or fix it, and that’s what we did. The photo maybe paints a bleak picture, but we have to move on.
“The government and SFA have said there’s not really a case to answer. We’ve submitted what we’ve done every day, and the protocols we put in place to minimise any risk, and they seem quite content.”
He said a lot more, but I will get to that later on. But first, when it comes to elite sports, there cannot be any kind of slip-ups, minor or otherwise. Clubs and players have been punished (and rightfully so) for lesser offences. While the rest of us are suffering, sports have been given the unique advantage of pressing ahead. It is their duty to ensure that the least they could do is follow the rules, that’s it.
Look I am not going into what possessed the SPFL to give permission to Celtic to visit Dubai in the first place or why SFA are not investigating them. I did that already here and here on Patreon. Have a read if you want a fuller picture.
When Nicola Sturgeon said that football had been shown a yellow card in August and it would be red next time, everyone acted. Atleast they tried. Remember in the aftermath of Celtic star Boli Bolingoli breaking quarantine rules to go on a trip to Spain and then coming back and being a part of the Celtic squad? Or the 8 Aberdeen players visiting a restaurant which was in a local lockdown?
Now, with the cases climbing up, it was a spectacular fail on Celtic’s part to make this trip to Dubai. Did they really not realise the risk? If so, they should fire the persons who gave the go ahead as what happened today was simply inevitable.
Anyways, the Aberdeen players had to miss out then despite almost all of them testing negative (as far as I remember) because it was in violation of rules. This same thing has happened numerous times. Remember St Mirren? They had to bring in a goalkeeper on an emergency loan from Hearts as their No. 1 goalkeeper Jak Alnwick tested positive while one of either Dean Lyness or Peter Urminsky tested negative. Despite this, even the player who tested negative was not allowed to play as there was a risk of transmission. Just imagine applying the same standards to Celtic now that one of their players have tested positive.
Remember Kilmarnock and St Mirren (yes them again) being awarded 3-0 defeats at first because they admitted to SPFL’s social distancing rules on buses? Well, Kennedy has confirmed ‘that there were minor slip-ups’ so what is the SPFL going to do now? Or does Aeroplanes not count?
Remember, I had said that I was not finished with what Kennedy said in his interview. Here is more from what he said, “But the latest lockdown did come when we were in Dubai, so we had travelled out there thinking everything was OK. We went over on our own flight, we didn’t mingle with anyone.
“In terms of the protocols in Dubai, the hotel gave us our own areas. We had our own eating places, our own meeting areas, our own entrance and exits. We were kept aside.”
So, they had their own aeroplane, that’s great! But they were together in a confined space where the air is recirculated. Does the Hibs players feel safe playing against Celtic knowing what we know now? And what we know is almost nothing unfortunately because almost no details are being shared from the club.
Look if Kilmarnock and St Mirren could be punished for breaching social distancing rules on buses, SPFL have to be consistent here. If Celtic cannot prove that the player who tested positive was not in contact with anybody else, Hibs have to be given the points, or Celtic have to start with those who were undoubtedly not in touch with the player who tested positive.
I doubt any of this will happen though, but that should not stop the MSM from asking the SPFL and Celtic some hard questions.
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