Hibs receive SFA apology after it was found referee should have been isolating

Hibs and Saturday’s opponents Hamilton Accies have received an apology from the Scottish FA after it was discovered an official during the weekend’s match should have been at home self-isolating.
Graeme Stewart running the line during the Scottish Premiership match between Hibs and Hamilton Acadmical at Easter Road. Picture: SNSGraeme Stewart running the line during the Scottish Premiership match between Hibs and Hamilton Acadmical at Easter Road. Picture: SNS
Graeme Stewart running the line during the Scottish Premiership match between Hibs and Hamilton Acadmical at Easter Road. Picture: SNS

Assistant referee Graeme Stewart was part of a three-man team who travelled to Greece last weekend to officiate a derby match between Panathinaikos and Olympiakos.

Upon returning, the other assistant, David Roome, tested positive for Covid-19. Even though they returned negative tests, Stewart and referee Bobby Madden should still have been isolating as they were deemed close-contacts to Roome.

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Madden was removed as match official for Sunday evening’s clash between Celtic and Ross County and SFA chief executive Ian Maxwell now admits the governing body should have done the same with Stewart.

He said: “While the circumstances are complex the reality is that under Scottish Government guidelines all match officials involved in the trip should be considered close contacts.

“I have reiterated that the positive case and subsequent contact tracing should have been undertaken in line with the Scottish Government’s guidelines and the established system utilised by ESCAG.

“I have tonight apologised to Hibernian and Hamilton Academical for the unnecessary risk of having an assistant referee at a match when he should have been self-isolating, however much it is mitigated by two negative tests in the build-up to the match.

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“As part of an internal review, I have asked the respective departments to ensure we maintain the highest standards of compliance relevant to Scottish Government protocols.”

The SFA announced the error in a statement explaining Madden's absence from the match in Dingwall.

It read: “The Scottish FA has this evening withdrawn Bobby Madden from his duties as match official for the Scottish Premiership match between Ross County and Celtic after he was identified as a close contact of a positive COVID-19 case.

“Bobby was one of three Scottish match officials in charge of the derby match between Panathinaikos and Olympiakos in Athens last Sunday. These appointments were requested by UEFA and organised and arranged by the Greek FA, in compliance with UEFA’s COVID-19 protocols and including the relevant testing regime.

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“Upon return, one assistant referee, David Roome, was retested on Tuesday evening and returned a positive test on Wednesday. Two negative tests had been undertaken on the Friday and Saturday prior to the match.

“Bobby and the other assistant, Graeme Stewart, returned a further two negative tests this week since returning, in addition to the UEFA required tests.

"Notwithstanding the above, upon further investigation by the Scottish FA’s medical consultant they have been considered close contacts under Scottish Government regulations.

“We are aware that Graeme Stewart was assistant referee at yesterday’s Premiership match between Hibernian and Hamilton Academical. We have informed both clubs as part of a review of process initiated today and Dr MacLean has informed the Elite Sports Clinical Advisory Group. No players or members of team staff involved in yesterday’s match have been identified as close contacts of Graeme.

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“As a result, all three match officials must now undertake 10 days of self-isolation dated from Monday 15 February, as the date of last contact for Bobby and Graeme, and from Tuesday 16, the date of the positive test for David.”

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