But, after late night crisis talks between Holyrood and the Hampden Joint Response Group, it was agreed that the Dons would be allowed to take a heavily exhausted team to St Johnstone for Saturday’s live television showdown – provided that no other case is confirmed within their team. within the next 24 hours.
McInnes had to give up a training session on Thursday following the first positive test and the enraged manager immediately ordered an internal investigation. Seven other teammates admitted to being in town on Saturday night after a 1-0 home loss to Rangers on the opening day of the Premiership season.
It is understood that the whole team then had to undergo a further round of swabs and a player then posted a second positive test although he was awaiting the result of a follow-up screening by the NHS.
The eight disgraced players were ordered to return home immediately and put themselves under house arrest in strict isolation.
But, as mortified club leaders hoped their tough action could help calm the situation, Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon called an emergency meeting in which a plan to lockout Pittodria for a fortnight, as well as that the club’s workout facilities were discussed.
It was only after further crisis talks with the Joint Response Group that Aberdeen was given permission to continue playing – despite a local lockdown in the town of Granite that went into effect Monday at 5 p.m. closing bars and restaurants and limiting travel to five hours maximum. miles.
Clusters erupted around crowded pubs in the city center and Sports record revealed on Wednesday that a number of Aberdeen players had been spotted mingling with the Saturday night revelers.
Holyrood’s advisers believe the players violated the “return to training” protocol that was specially drafted to allow top-level football to return to action on August 1.
A statement released by Hampden confirmed: “In light of the Prime Minister’s increased restrictions imposed on the city of Aberdeen since a significant outbreak of COVID-19 this week, and following further investigation by the NHS Grampian health protection team, the Scottish government has ordered the two players to self-isolate, along with six other players who were in close proximity to the initial positive player.
“The initial positive player will have to self-isolate for 10 days from yesterday, the other seven players will have to self-isolate for 14 days from yesterday.
“This self-isolation instruction was unanimously approved by the Joint Task Force. In light of the action taken, and after consultation with the Scottish Government, Aberdeen’s Scottish Premiership game against St Johnstone on Saturday will go as planned.
SFA President Rod Petrie said, “As we have said from the start, public health is the top priority of the Joint Response Group. As soon as we were informed of the positive tests, the information was immediately passed on to the Scottish Government via our Chief Medical Officer.
“Given the well-documented outbreak in Aberdeen, it was imperative that we take the quickest action to allow the local health protection team to respond immediately.
“The Scottish government’s advice to JRG was clear and unequivocal, as was our support for this advice. Given the circumstances, we are sending the strongest message possible to all clubs to ensure that the bi-weekly check-up procedure and Scottish football return-to-play protocol are followed. It is imperative that everyone adheres to the Scottish Government’s public health councils. ”
It is understood that McInnes is also furious with the players as the red-faced president Dave Cormack apologized to the game’s governing bodies as the scale of the violation became evident.
Aberdeen later issued a statement in which Cormack said: “After Saturday’s game with all eyes on Pittodria we were once again congratulated for the rigorous processes and measures we had in place. Considering the efforts of everyone at the Club and our investment in protecting our most valuable assets, this is a huge blow.
“With two players from the first team testing positive for COVID-19, plus six others having to isolate themselves for 14 days, it is also a stark reminder of the severity and speed of spread of this virus.
“The club will conduct a full investigation but, as an immediate first step, we have strengthened the club’s COVID-19 protocols and governing body guidance with every player and staff member and will continue to educate and remind everyone on a regular basis. what is and what is not in the current climate.
“We now need to focus on preparing for Saturday’s game under extremely difficult circumstances.
A forced shutdown – preventing Aberdeen from playing against St Johnstone, Hamilton and champions Celtic over the next eight days – would have caused chaos in the Premiership as the clubs already faced a very crowded fixture list.
A source from Hampden said: ‘The FBCL is bracing for a car crash regarding this season’s fixture list with the possibility that clubs will be forced to play four games in eight days once the Scottish winter gets under way. will begin and the inevitable postponements will follow.
“So the prospect of having to postpone games because of this breach by a handful of Aberdeen players would have created a major headache as well as enormous embarrassment both for the club concerned and for the Scottish game in general.
“It’s amazing that a group of players choose to act so irresponsibly given everything their club has done to protect them in the face of this pandemic.
“To say the government got it right here would be an understatement, given the circumstances it is currently facing in the face of a global pandemic.