Covid: Tougher protocols in Scottish football under discussion; Hibs v Celtic cup final still on for now

Scottish football’s governing bodies will start consulting with member clubs over tougher Covid protocols in the wake of a rise in Covid-19 cases linked to the Omicron variant, but the Hibs v Celtic cup final is still on as things stand.

Thursday, 16th December 2021, 7:03 pm
Updated Thursday, 16th December 2021, 8:33 pm

Scottish football's Joint Response Group (JRG), which consists of representation from the SFA and SPFL, is set to start talks with clubs over strengthening protocols between now and the winter break in January.

It follows a video conference discussion among Premiership clubs today, where Scottish football's measures to combat the tidal wave of Covid-19 cases across the country were discussed. The Omicron variant has led to the highest recorded number of cases in one day since the pandemic started.

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Covid-19 posters during a cinch Premiership match between Hibernian and Dundee at Easter Road on Tuesday

Dundee United are confident they have contained a Covid-19 outbreak, but head coach Tam Courts has revealed the only disruption his side had faced this week, other than losing some players, was delaying today’s training session until the afternoon to receive results of PCR tests.

Ross County manager Malky Mackay also feels clubs need to "keep with the best practices" while continuing to play.

A spokesperson for the JRG said: "Following a videoconference discussion tonight with Premiership clubs, the JRG will begin consultation on the potential strengthening of protocols between now and the winter break to reinforce Scottish football's measures to combat the spread of Covid-19 and the increased transmission of new variants."

A further update will be provided tomorrow.

In England more than ten games are already off. That includes Manchester United' s match against Brighton on Saturday and last night’s game between Leicester and Tottenham.

As it stands all matches in Scotland – including Sunday's Premier Sports Cup final between Hibs and Celtic will still take place – unless clubs inform the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) that they cannot fulfil a fixture or there is a change in government policy.

Current SPFL rules state teams must go ahead with matches if they have 13 fit players, including a goalkeeper. Further to that, 10 of the players must be over 18 years old.

Instead of games being called off, the SPFL has rescheduled more festive fixtures with Airdrie's League One game against Queen's Park, which was recently postponed because of a Covid outbreak among the Airdrie squad, rearranged for December 29.Meanwhile, new figures suggest a quarter of players at English Football League clubs "do not intend" to be vaccinated against Covid-19.

Figures released by the EFL state that 59 per cent of footballers across the three divisions are already double-vaccinated, with 16 per cent set to have the jab.

But, according to data collated for November, the remaining 25 per cent plan to remain unvaccinated.

Tighter protocols at first-team training grounds and more regular testing will be enforced in light of the increased transmission rate of the Omicron variant.

A host of Championship, League One and League Two fixtures scheduled to be played on Saturday have been postponed following a series of outbreaks.

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