Eight Aberdeen players who visited a busy bar linked to a growing coronavirus cluster have apologised to fans for breaking Covid rules.
Two footballers at the club tested positive for Covid-19, meaning the their Premiership match at St Johnstone on Saturday has now been postponed.
A further six players have started 14 days of self-isolation after coming into close contact with the others.
The group of eight, made up of Sam Cosgrove, Scott McKenna, Craig Bryson, Jonny Hayes, Bruce Anderson, Dylan McGeouch, Michael Devlin and Matty Kennedy, said they made a “huge error in judgement” by visiting Soul Bar in the city centre.
Earlier this week the First Minister said the players “blatantly broke the rules” agreed by the Scottish FA, SPFL and government.
A club statement read: “First and foremost we would like to apologise to every AFC fan, the manager, everyone at the club, the football authorities, the First Minister, all healthcare workers along with everyone else that has worked tirelessly around the clock to get the country, and in particular football, back up and running again.
‘This was a genuine error on our part as professional football players, and in doing so, we have let our manager down.’Aberdeen players’ statement
“We, as a small group of players, made a huge error of judgement last weekend by thinking it was ok to visit a city centre venue together.
“None of us could have foreseen the escalation of Covid-19 cases in the Grampian area, nor did we deliberately attempt to flaunt or disobey Government guidelines which we all must adhere to, or indeed the clear guidelines set out by the club.
“This was by no means a team night out as has been portrayed and while we attempted to comply with Government social distancing guidelines, we now recognise that our group of eight exceeded the number of households permitted to meet up.
“This was a genuine error on our part as professional football players, and in doing so, we have let our manager down.
“As players we appreciate our club has gone above and beyond to put protocols in place to protect us and it was never our intention to put that those jeopardy, or to put our teammates or football staff at risk.
“As a player group, we once again apologise unreservedly to the fans, the manager, the board and all the staff at the club.”
On Friday Sturgeon said the players’ behaviour was “completely unacceptable” and said calling off the fixture was the right decision.
Speaking at the daily coronavirus briefing, she said: “It is now clear that all eight of these players visited a bar in Aberdeen on Saturday night.
“In doing so they blatantly broke the rules that had been agreed by the SFA, the SPFL and the Scottish Government, which – to put it mildly – is completely unacceptable.
“This morning the Scottish Government convened a meeting with the SFA and the SPFL and, following those discussions, the football authorities have confirmed the game between Aberdeen and St Johnstone scheduled for tomorrow in Perth will not now go ahead.
“I think that is the right decision. We are expecting members of the public to behave in a highly precautionary manner right now.
“When a football club ends up with players infected – and let’s remember this is not through bad luck but clear breaches of the rules – we cannot take even smalls risks that could then spread the infection to other parts of the country.”
Sturgeon said the Scottish Government will be contacting all club captains and managers to “emphasise the importance” of complying with guidance.