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Football authorities strengthen rules after lockdown scandal

New measures have been introduced after rules were broken by Aberdeen and Celtic players.

Football authorities strengthen rules after lockdown scandal /SNSGroup
The SFA and SPFL have taken action to prevent further government intervention.

The Scottish football authorities have announced new measures to ensure compliance with efforts to prevent the spread of Covid-19, including new rules they will enforce on players.

The moves follow the news that Celtic player Boli Bolingoli made a trip to Spain, failed to quarantine on his return, and then played in a Premiership game, and after eight Aberdeen players broke rules on distancing.

Scottish football was warned by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon it was on a final warning before the Premiership was suspended.

The new measures were announced by football’s Joint Response Group, which was put together by the Scottish Professional Football League and the Scottish Football Association to deal with the impact of coronavirus.

The group has had what it described as “extensive discussions” with government ministers and health advisers before announcing a raft of changes.

Disciplinary rules are to be changed to all players to be held to account and punished for failing to follow football’s strict protocols for preventing the spread of Covid, or for failing to obey the public health guidelines issued by government.

The JRG say these measures will include dealing with the recent incidents involving Celtic defender Bolingoli and the eight Aberdeen players.

The Scottish FA has agreed to put a stop to training at clubs outwith the Premiership until August 24, in order to assure the Scottish government the phased return to playing can proceed safely.

Hearts, who have already begun training ahead of the Championship season, will have to pause their preparations.

Players will also be reminded of their responsibilities and a video produced by Professor Jason Leitch, the national clinical director for Scotland, will clarify for players what they can and cannot do.

Scottish FA president Rod Petrie, who also chairs the JRG said: “The message from the First Minister could not have been clearer.

“The JRG must now ensure that the planned resumption of football beyond the Scottish Premiership is done in a controlled manner with the strictest adherence to protocols and guidelines.  
 
“The pause on the return to training for the professional game outwith the Scottish Premiership will not impact on the proposed start dates of the respective league competitions but will give sufficient time to reinforce protocols, educate players and make sure of the ability of clubs in the lower divisions to conform.” 

Neil Doncaster, SPFL chief executive: “Today’s measures underline the fact that Scottish football is doing everything it possibly can to protect our game.

“The recent, high-profile breaches must be used as further motivation for all those with our game’s best interests at heart to comply absolutely with these necessary restrictions and safeguards.”