It started with news that the city of Aberdeen was closed on Wednesday following a cluster of coronavirus cases.
On Thursday evening, eight Aberdeen players had self-isolated, two had tested positive for Covid-19, and the Scottish government was criticizing their behavior.
So what do we know? What does this mean for the emerging Premiership season? And what will happen next?
What do we know?
Two Aberdeen players have tested positive for Covid-19 under the club’s mandatory private testing regime twice a week. The first has been confirmed by an NHS follow-up test and the other is awaiting further results.
Both are asymptomatic but self-isolating. The same goes for six teammates who were ‘close’ to them on Saturday night at a pub in town that has since been linked to a cluster of cases.
At the time, bars and restaurants were open to the public but have been closed in Aberdeen since 5:00 p.m. BST on Wednesday. People have been told not to visit the city and those who live there face travel restrictions.
The player with the first positive test will self-isolate until August 15, with the remaining seven doing so until August 19. All eight will miss Saturday’s game with St Johnstone.
Is this game still in progress?
As it stands, yes. Late on Thursday, the Scottish FA and Scottish Professional Football League joint response group confirmed the game remains on the schedule after talks with the Scottish government.
Authorities had previously confirmed matches were not at risk in the Aberdeen lockout because clubs are “in a sports bubble” and are tested twice a week.
That means Derek McInnes’ side – who lost their first game to Rangers last weekend – will travel to McDiarmid Park without the unidentified eight players. And those team members will also miss the visit to Hamilton Academical on Wednesday, as well as the trip to Celtic Park on August 15.
So what does the club say?
Aberdeen President Dave Cormack says the situation is “a stark reminder of the severity and speed of the virus spread.”
The club will conduct a full investigation and “strengthen the club’s Covid-19 protocols” with all players and staff to “remind everyone what is, and what is not, acceptable in the current climate “.
Director McInnes is due to host a Friday afternoon press conference at which further details could be released.
What about the government?
It did not hold back.
In a statement, a Scottish government spokesperson said there had been “a flagrant violation of the rules” and that they were “disappointed by the actions of these individuals who have endangered the return of professional football in Scotland “.
Pubs and restaurants were open on Saturday, but customers have been repeatedly urged to adhere to social distancing measures. It is not known if Aberdeen has given their players any advice on where they should and should not go when away from the football club.
“The Scottish Government is clear that only by following the rules and keeping people safe can football continue,” the statement continued. “Nobody wants to see the season endangered. ”
Public Health and Sports Minister Joe Fitzpatrick called a meeting with the SFA and SPFL on Friday and officials will meet with all club captains and directors to “underline the guidelines and their importance.”
What does this mean for the season?
As Cormack puts it, it’s a ‘stern recall’ but it looks like not much will change for Premiership clubs. Bi-weekly testing will continue and negative tests must be returned before players can participate in matches.
Football is different from the European Tour of Golf, which has formed a biosecurity ring around its UK-based restart.
Competitors and others involved in tournaments may only go to their hotel and the course. John Catlin and his caddy broke these rules by going to a restaurant and were disqualified.
The SPFL cannot apply such regulations to clubs and Premiership players, which means that further positive tests are entirely possible and further disruption could arise.