Celtic's Boli Bolingoli breaks quarantine rules; Scottish government in talks over Premiership pause

August 10, 2020

The Scottish government is in talks with the SPFL over the future of the Premiership season after Celtic's Boli Bolingoli broke coronavirus quarantine rules.

Bolingoli travelled to Spain but did not quarantine on his return before playing in Celtic's 1-1 draw against Kilmarnock on Sunday - something the club were unaware of until after the game.

Bolingoli's indiscretion came just days after Aberdeen's trip to St Johnstone was called off due to two of their players testing positive for coronavirus.

Eight Dons players then issued public apologies for breaking guidelines by visiting a bar following their opening-day defeat to Rangers on August 1.

A Scottish government statement read: "The Scottish government is aware of reports of a Celtic FC player having broken quarantine rules last week.

"We are currently in discussion with the club and football governing bodies to establish the facts.

"If confirmed as another serious incident within Scottish football, where protocols have been breached at the risk of wider public health, then the Scottish government will have little choice but to consider whether a pause is now needed in the resumption of the game in Scotland."

Reacting on Twitter, Scottish Justice Minister Humza Yousaf said: "Utterly unacceptable from Bolingoli. With a number of incidents, Scot Govt left with little choice but to consider whether pause is now needed in resumption of the game.

"Operational matter for Border Force & Police Scot, I support whatever enforcement action they deem necessary."

Scottish government officials met with the SFA/SPFL Joint Response Group on Tuesday morning to discuss the situation, with a statement expected to be made later in the day.

Tuesday's match between Hibernian and Dundee United is set to go ahead as planned, live on Sky Sports.

Celtic condemn Bolingoli's 'stupidity'

Sky Sports News has been told Celtic manager Neil Lennon is furious with Bolingoli, and the club has condemned the actions of the defender in a lengthy statement on Tuesday.

"Celtic football club unreservedly condemns and apologises for the behaviour of the player Boli Bolingoli in travelling to Spain without informing the club and in failing to observe quarantine restrictions," the statement read.

"It is difficult to imagine a more irresponsible action in current circumstances and we find it beyond explanation. The club will take immediate action through our own disciplinary procedures.

"Celtic are in touch with every SPFL club today, and with all relevant authorities, to apologise for the fact that one of our employees has created so much additional difficulty through his actions.

"All of our playing and backroom staff have been tested twice for COVID-19 since this incident and all, including the player in question, have tested negative. While this comes as a relief to all concerned, it in no way diminishes the seriousness or stupidity of the player's actions.

"Since the COVID-19 crisis began, we have had a safe and healthy squad of players, recording not one positive test. As a club, we have worked tirelessly to ensure a sustained, safe environment for all.

"We have led the way in working with the football authorities and Scottish government to establish the most rigorous, effective protocols and working practices, which ultimately led to the resumption of football. We could have done no more in this area.

"It is a matter of the deepest regret to us that the behaviour of one individual has jeopardised that reputation and reflected discredit on football more generally."

Gerrard: Warning a wake-up call

Rangers boss Steven Gerrard, who was part of a meeting with Scottish government officials on Monday where the safety protocols around coronavirus were again highlighted, described the warning as a "wake-up call".

Speaking to the media ahead of St Johnstone's visit on Wednesday, he said: "It is a wake-up call and a strong message from the government and also a reminder of what could happen if mistakes continue to happen.

"It is a concern and it is a worry because if mistakes continue to happen there's no doubt that the football season will be cancelled. That's not what I want or what anyone wants at Rangers.

"I don't think we're putting any extra measures in but what we are doing is going to remind everyone of our responsibility and our behaviours during this time.

"Up to now I think everyone's done extremely well here at Rangers. The medical department have been fantastic ever since lockdown really, keeping us updated of the situation.

"But it's just reminders really, to the players and to the staff, that we have to behave in the right way and keep doing the right things."

Watch Dundee United vs Hibernian on Tuesday from 5pm on Sky Sports Football; kick-off: 6pm

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