Aberdeen chairman Dave Cormack says the eight Dons players who breached Covid-19 rules have been ‘severely reprimanded and fined heavily’ with the money donated to NHS following an internal investigation.
Eight Dons players – Dylan McGeouch, Mikey Devlin, Scott McKenna, Craig Bryson, Jonny Hayes, Sam Cosgrove, Bruce Anderson and Matty Kennedy – breached coronavirus rules for both Premiership footballers and the general public when visiting a city centre bar after the opening 1-0 defeat to Rangers on August 1.
Their actions, and tighter restrictions in the Granite City prompted by a spike in cases, led to games against St Johnstone (away) last Saturday, Hamilton (home) on Wednesday and Celtic (away) tomorrow being postponed.
Cormack said: “These players made a huge mistake. They not only went against government guidance but also breached our own COVID-19 procedures, set out by the Club to all players and staff.
“Due to the privilege that has been afforded to professional footballers, and having witnessed the outrage and anger their actions provoked, they are in no doubt that they have let themselves and the club down.
“They are truly sorry and have apologised unreservedly to the First Minster, health and footballing authorities, the fans, the manager, the rest of the squad, our staff and board and the wider community.
“As a result of our investigation, these players have been severely reprimanded and fined heavily.
“Contractually, the specifics must remain confidential between the club and each player but, rest assured, the financial fines are in line with the severity of the consequences of their actions.
“The club has chosen to donate these fines to NHS Grampian.
“We fully appreciate the outpouring of dismay and anger by those who have been impacted by this virus, by those who have worked selflessly to protect us and by our fans, who have, despite health and financial worries, supported the club with their hard-earned cash during this period.
“Their actions were indefensible but the investigation has been completed, they have apologised, they have been punished by the club, and are suffering the humiliation that goes with making a mistake in the public eye.
“The club, like every employer, has a duty of care to its staff and we must also consider the wellbeing of these players, who continue to face an ongoing barrage of criticism and personal abuse from many quarters.
“They’ve been taught the harshest of lessons and have the chance to redeem themselves and help demonstrate that the club is better and bigger than this regrettable episode.
“I can only hope that Dons fans and the Aberdeen community will remember the tremendously positive work the club and Trust, including staff, volunteers and the players, have delivered during this pandemic, and help us all heal from this.”
Regulations require those playing in the top-flight – which was given special dispensation to return amid the pandemic – to maintain the “sporting bubble” by limiting outside contact, while blanket public health rules mean groups should still be kept to a maximum of four households.
Two of the players subsequently tested positive for the virus, while the other six were also forced to self-isolate.
Their conduct was condemned by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
This week Celtic defender Boli Bolingoli was heavily criticised by fans, politicians and manager Neil Lennon after it emerged he made a secret trip to Spain before returning to make a substitute appearance in their draw with Kilmarnock last weekend.
Last night, the SFA/ SPFL Joint Response Group (JRG) said they would today provide details on their own sanctions for future breaches of the rules, which will likely be applied retrospectively to Aberdeen and the Hoops.
As penance for the problems which have already beset the Premiership, the JRG also revealed no training below the Premiership level is permitted until at least August 27 so the authorities can ensure the understanding and implementation of coronavirus rules in relation to the return of football.
In addition to this, national clinical director Professor Jason Leitch has made a new video to remind players of the rules, and advertising space in grounds has been donated so it can be used to share public health messages.