Derek McInnes has reacted following the shock virus news that has rippled through Aberdeen.
The north-east city has been placed on lockdown again following an outbreak of COVID-19 in the area. There was a nervy wait to see if the players at the Dons had been impacted and they’ve been hit in a major way.
Eight players are having to self-isolate, two with positive tests, after a night out following Aberdeen’s 1-0 defeat to Rangers last weekend. It’s led to a furious reaction after a breach of the protocols designed to get Scottish football going again, whilst there has also been a huge public outcry.
McInnes’ side have now had to postpone this weekend’s match with St Johnstone, which was due to be played live on Sky Sports in the early kick-off. Their matches against Hamilton and Celtic in the next week will go ahead as it stands, but that is very much subject to change.
Aberdeen’s boss has had to front up questions in the wake of this news, saying the players clearly broke the rules as he claimed they now feel deeply sorry.
“We were first aware there was an issue when there was a positive test on Tuesday from one of the players after our routine testing,” McInnes said (RedTV). “The timelines there on after, we found out a group of players had been out and we found out what their movements were. We then had another positive test yesterday from that group. With what is going on in Aberdeen and the cluster we were more apprehensive about the testing yesterday.
“Our investigation is well on and we are getting to the bottom of it because as well as a health issue there is the discipline issue. First and foremost, having spoken to all of the players who were out, they all take full responsibility, they have made a real error of judgement. They are full of regret, and rightly so. The anger and disappointment comes from the fact they have put themselves in that position.
“The rule they have broken is the four-house rule. The four-household rule is clear, and they are guilty of that. To a man and what they have said to me, they felt that because they are in their own bubble here and have tested negative and share the same changing room, they said that hadn’t even crossed their minds.
“For us to protect our bubble, our players need to be far more aware of their responsibilities when they are out. We were training the next day, so they are absolutely fine to go out for dinner but not in the numbers they were in and they all accept that. They are guilty of a really bad decision.
“The restrictions we are under, the players need to have that added responsibility. They have to be far more measured and make far better decisions than going out in a group. The bit for me that makes it even more of an issue is that they then go after dinner into a pub for a short time.
“There was no intention for them to go out partying, I think there was only a couple of them who had a glass of wine with their food. The majority of them were driving and were not drinking because they were training the next day.
“Then the added factor, where I think they have been very foolish, is that we have lost a game, a very important game to Rangers. We all have been at Aberdeen long enough to know that you don’t go out the door if you lose a game. That is where they have been foolish. That has added a lot of anger and disappointment.”
First Minister not pleased with Aberdeen
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has had to send a stark warning to the rest of Scottish football after this wake-up call. Speaking at her lunchtime briefing on Friday, she says that the Aberdeen players clearly broke guidelines and says she’ll have to consider extreme measures should an incident like this occur again.
“They blatantly broke the rules agreed by the SFA, SPFL and Scottish Government,” she said. “It is completely unacceptable. The Scottish Government convened a meeting with the SFA and SPFL, and – following those discussions – the football authorities have confirmed the game between St Johnstone and Aberdeen in Perth will not go ahead.
“Football has been given the go-ahead on the strict condition they abide by the strict conditions agreed. If they don’t do that, they put at risk the return of the professional game.
“I welcome Aberdeen’s statement they have reminded players of their obligations. That’s important, footballers as we all know are role models and should behave accordingly.”