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Matches postponed and Scottish football season at risk after players flout coronavirus rules

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By Luke Hurst  with AFP
Celtic's Boli Bolingoli has admitted breaching coronavirus quarantine rules
Celtic's Boli Bolingoli has admitted breaching coronavirus quarantine rules   -   Copyright  AP Photo/David Vincent

A number of Scottish football matches have been postponed after the Scottish government threatened to suspend the national football season, which has just begun, following a number of breaches of regulations put in place to guard against the coronavirus pandemic.

Boli Bolingoli-Mbombo, a defender for champions Celtic, admitted he had not observed quarantine requirements after returning from a holiday in Spain, shortly before playing a match against Kilmarnock on Sunday.

That incident followed controversy around the actions of eight Aberdeen players, who went to a bar in the city last week. Two of them tested positive for COVID-19, leading to the postponement of the club’s match scheduled for Sunday.

Aberdeen's match against Hamilton Academical and St Mirren's against Celtic on 12 August have been put on hold, along with Aberdeen v Celtic on 15 August.

The Scottish FA said the matches had been postponed following "a breach of government public health guidance" involving Bolingoli-Mbombo.

The Scottish football season has only just begun, with 11 fixtures played so far.

The Scottish government said in a statement: “We are in discussions with the club and the football governing bodies to establish the facts.

“If this is confirmed as a further serious incident in Scottish football, where protocols have been breached which put public health at risk, then the Scottish Government will have no choice but to consider whether a break is needed in the return of football to Scotland.”

Celtic said in a statement it “unreservedly condemns and apologises for the behaviour” of Bolingoli, saying in a statement he had not informed the club of his trip.

“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,” the statement continued.

Following the Aberdeen incident, a videoconference was organised between managers and captains of Scottish Premiership clubs and the National Clinical Director for Scotland, Professor Jason Leitch.

Rod Petrie, Chair of the Scottish FA’s Joint Response Group, said: “Harsh lessons have been learned by Aberdeen that will have been heeded by the rest of Scottish football and that message was made clear to Professor Leitch this evening.”

The previous season was stopped on 13 March due to the pandemic, with the title awarded to Celtic on the basis of their points per game.