Aberdeen have launched an investigation into the events which saw two first team players test positive for Covid-19 after socialising in a city centre bar diner.
Eight Dons stars have been placed in self isolation after eating out in the city’s Soul bar following a 1-0 home defeat to Rangers on Saturday.
Scheduled to train at Cormack Park on Sunday morning players provided assurances to manager Derek McInnes that no alcohol was involved.
After adopting extensive measures to create a bio secure training hub, however, clubs management are deeply unhappy with what one source branded ‘a real lapse of judgement’.
Manager Derek McInnes has been left furious after Aberdeen made a ‘lapse of judgment’
Despite being symptomatic, the two players testing positive will now be quarantined for ten days.
On Scottish Government advice six others from their group will also self isolate for 14 days, with all eight now missing Aberdeen’s clash with St Johnstone in Perth on Saturday, a midweek home clash with Hamilton and next weekend’s trip to Parkhead to face Celtic. Most of the group will return to training just six days before a Europa League qualifying tie on August 27.
The Dons bombshell comes as public health officials wrestle with a steady rise in coronavirus cases in Aberdeen.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon returned the Granite City to a state of partial lockdown for seven days after images emerged of crowded pavements outside city centre venues at the weekend. A total of 79 cases have now been diagnosed in the city, with bars and restaurants shut down for a week at 5pm on Thursday.
Last night chairman Dave Cormack described the lapse in club protocol as a ‘bitter blow’ and vowed to ‘educate and remind everyone of what is, and what is not, acceptable in the current climate.’
Several members of the Aberdeen squad will now be missing for upcoming fixtures
‘After Saturday’s game, with all eyes on Pittodrie, we were once again commended on the stringent processes and measures we had in place. Given the efforts of everyone at the club and our investment in protecting our most valuable assets, this is a bitter blow.
‘With two first team players testing positive for COVID-19, plus six others having to isolate for 14 days, it is also a harsh reminder of the severity and speed of spread of this virus.
‘The club will be carrying out a full investigation but, as an immediate first step, we have reinforced the club’s COVID-19 protocols and the governing bodies’ guidance with every player and member of staff and will continue to regularly educate and remind everyone of what is, and what is not, acceptable in the current climate.
‘We now have to focus on preparing for Saturday’s game under extremely difficult circumstances.’
Initially, Aberdeen’s clash with St Johnstone in Perth was expected to be given the all clear due to Dons players being placed in a ‘bubble’ at the club’s training centre. The breach of return to training protocols by eight players changed that state of affairs quickly.
Following crunch talks between the Scottish Government and Scottish football’s Joint Response Group yesterday a JRG statement confirmed that one player has been confirmed as a positive by a follow-up National Health Service test, while the second player is awaiting the result of a follow-up NHS test.
Public health officials now fear a breach of return to training protocols has taken place
The statement added: ‘In light of the First Minister’s increased restrictions imposed on the city of Aberdeen since a significant outbreak of COVID-19 this week, and following further investigation by NHS Grampian’s Health Protection Team, the Scottish Government has instructed that both players will require to self-isolate, along with a further six players found to have been in close proximity to the initial positive player.
‘The initial positive player will require to self-isolate for 10 days from yesterday, with the remaining seven players to self-isolate for 14 days from yesterday.
‘This instruction for self-isolation has been unanimously endorsed by the Joint Response Group. In light of the action taken, and after consultation with Scottish Government, Aberdeen’s Scottish Premiership match against St Johnstone on Saturday will go ahead as scheduled.’
The Aberdeen crisis follows one member of St Mirren’s backroom staff recently being tested positive and Rangers, Hibs and Motherwell being asked to clarify aspects of their covid testing procedures. SFA Chief Executive Ian Maxwell wrote to clubs reminding them of their responsibilities before the opening weekend of the season.
Rod Petrie, Joint Response Group Chair said last night: ‘As we have said from the outset, public health is the absolute priority of the Joint Response Group. As soon as we were informed of the positive tests, the information was immediately referred to the Scottish Government via our Chief Medical Consultant.
‘Given the well-documented outbreak in Aberdeen it was imperative that we took the swiftest action to enable the local Health Protection Team to respond immediately.
‘The Scottish Government’s advice to the JRG was clear and unequivocal, as was our support of that advice. Given the circumstances, we issue the strongest possible message to all clubs to ensure compliance with the twice-weekly testing procedure and Scottish football’s Return to Playing Protocol. It is imperative that everyone adheres to Scottish Government public health advice.’
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