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Celtic rocked with THIRTEEN players and three staff forced to isolate after Dubai break

BREAKING NEWS: Scottish football in Covid chaos with THIRTEEN Celtic players forced to isolate after a team-mate tested positive on return from Dubai trip amid questions over social distancing… as all-but the top two divisions are halted

Celtic have been rocked by the news 13 players and three members of their coaching staff have been forced to isolate after their controversial trip to Dubai, on the day they are meant to play Hibernian.

Celtic spent six days in the UAE, where pictures emerged showing members of the squad not distancing or wearing face coverings and after being tested upon their return to Glasgow, had one positive case in defender Christopher Jullien. Manager Neil Lennon and assistant John Kennedy are among those now isolating

Celtic insist their Monday fixture against Hibs will go ahead but the news emerges on the day that football across Scotland underneath the top two divisions was halted in an attempt to curb the ongoing rise in Covid-19 cases.

Celtic confirmed  on Sunday one player tested positive for Covid-19 after their trip to Dubai

The Scottish champions said in a statement on Monday: ‘While all of the other members of the squad and backroom team have tested negative, we have been informed by the authorities that, having been deemed ‘close contacts’, Celtic manager Neil Lennon, assistant John Kennedy and 13 first-team players will be required to self-isolate on a precautionary basis as required by the current regulations.’

But the club in their statement moved to distance the positive case with their trip to Dubai.

‘Clearly we are hugely disappointed, as we know our supporters will be. The contacts were identified during the period from Wednesday last week, primarily around flight and team coach travel, during which time Celtic applied the same rigorous protocols used for pre-season training camps, UEFA match travel and for all domestic match arrangements in Scotland.

‘These protocols have served us well in the past, as the club has not had one positive case in our own ‘bubble’ until now. As we have already stated, Celtic’s decision to travel to Dubai for a training camp was for performance reasons.

‘The reality is that a case could well have occurred had the team remained in Scotland, as other cases have done in Scottish football and across UK sport in the past week.’ 

Celtic had already faced criticism over their warm-weather training camp, with Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon questioning whether they were complying with social-distancing rules after photographs emerged on social media.

The pictures showed members of the Celtic squad not distancing or wearing face coverings.

The Scottish champions visited the Middle East as part of a warm weather training camp

The Scottish champions visited the Middle East as part of a warm weather training camp  

Nicola Sturgeon questioned the trip after pictures emerged of staff and players drinking

Nicola Sturgeon questioned the trip after pictures emerged of staff and players drinking

Assistant manager John Kennedy said on Saturday that Celtic were guilty of ‘minor slip-ups’ by not adhering to Covid-19 protocols on their training trip.  

‘You probably get a snapshot of one or two pictures that might kick around from maybe local people… it paints a picture which is probably a bit false,’ Kennedy said.

‘The whole week, we had a lot of work put in place making sure everything was ready for us. In terms of the protocol in Dubai, the hotel worked very hard with us in terms of giving us our own areas – we had our own tower, our own eating places, our own meeting groups.

‘We got pretty much left with our own entrance and exits. At no point did we go into the main part of the building. Before we went there we took advice.

‘There has been slip-ups, minor things which if you get a snapshot you can criticise and jump on it. We, as much as we possibly can, speak to the players about the protocols they must adhere to. We want to abide by all the rules and if there is any error then we try to eradicate that.’ 

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