Aberdeen and Celtic, in addition to their players, could face charges and sanctions from the footballing authorities on Friday after the SPFL introduced new Covid safety rules, STV can reveal.
Eight Aberdeen players broke rules when they visited a city restaurant and pub recently, while Celtic’s Boli Bolingoli took a trip to Spain without telling his club and failed to quarantine on his return, playing against Kilmarnock days later.
STV has learned that while the players will be dealt with by the SFA, clubs face potential punishment from the SPFL.
The league’s board made an addition to the SPFL rulebook in recent weeks that allows for action.
An annex to the league’s rules and regulations lays out the responsibility for clubs to follow the rules on distancing and to adhere to any changes to the guidelines and safety and protection measures. It also has specific instructions and rules regarding the regular testing of players and staff.
Where a club is accused of breaking the new rules an SPFL disciplinary hearing would be convened where the club would be able to attend and give their side.
In a statement issued through their Joint Response Group on Thursday, the governing body and league said that existing rules will “be strengthened to include the provision of sanctions for players who do not adhere to COVID-specific football protocols or government health guidelines”.
The JRG say this will “encompass recent breaches” and promises further details on Friday the league rules are already in place.
The SFA’s compliance officer is expected to charge Celtic’s Bolingoli and the eight Aberdeen players with bringing the game into disrepute, or with failing to act in the best interests of Scottish football.
The Joint Response Group’s announcement on Thursday came after discussions with the Scottish Government, who had warned that Scottish football was on a final warning after the Celtic and Aberdeen incidents.
Both teams have had games postponed as a result. Senior figures at Pittodrie and Celtic Park have apologised to fellow clubs and to the authorities and have made clear their anger at the actions of the individuals involved.