Celtic defender Boli Bolingoli has been handed a suspension of at least three games but the ‘Aberdeen Eight’ have avoided any immediate punishment for their breaches of coronavirus protocols.
The Dons players have been given three-match bans following a Scottish Football Association disciplinary hearing. But the suspensions will only be invoked if they break the same regulations they were charged with before the end of February.
Bolingoli has been hit with a five-match ban, two games of which are suspended until the end of February.
The Belgian left-back flew to Spain and back without telling Celtic then failed to quarantine himself for 14 days as required, before playing against Kilmarnock five days later. The Scottish champions had their next two games postponed.
Bolingoli has not featured since and is unlikely to be involved in the weeks following his three-game ban after manager Neil Lennon revealed he and the defender’s team-mates were “livid” over his actions.
Bolingoli and eight Aberdeen players – Jonny Hayes, Scott McKenna, Sam Cosgrove, Craig Bryson, Bruce Anderson, Dylan McGeouch, Matty Kennedy and Michael Devlin – were accused of two offences: one of failing to comply with SFA regulations and another of bringing the game into disrepute.
Aberdeen had three games postponed after the eight players were instructed to self-isolate after two tested positive for Covid-19 following a night out at a bar.
They were fined and reprimanded by their club and Dons boss Derek McInnes argued on Thursday night that they had been punished enough after also being subjected to widespread criticism.
Aberdeen have won three consecutive games since getting players back from self-isolation and have avoided a mass suspension of players ahead of their Scottish Premiership clash with Hibernian on Sunday.
McInnes welcomed the verdict for his players.
“We are satisfied with the outcome of the SFA disciplinary hearing,” he said on the club’s website.
“As I said previously, the players have had their punishment, both from the club and via public sentiment, and I am grateful we can all now move on from this matter.
“We have an important game to prepare for on Sunday and I’m pleased for my players that they can now solely focus on trying to win a game of football.”
The Scottish football authorities promised the Scottish Government it would strengthen penalties for such breaches after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon warned the game risked losing its privileges in the wake of the incidents.
Aberdeen and Celtic also face separate disciplinary action from the Scottish Professional Football League, although few details have been released on that case.
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