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Coronavirus outbreak leaves Dundee United short of numbers for Livingston match

Tannadice Park Stadium – Home of Dundee United
(Image credit: Jane Barlow)

Dundee United will be without nine players as well as their entire first-team coaching staff for their trip to Livingston following a coronavirus outbreak.

Training was cancelled on Wednesday after three non-playing employees returned positive Covid-19 tests, and manager Micky Mellon and his backroom staff were placed into precautionary self-isolation on Thursday ahead of training.

Now the situation has escalated ahead of Saturday’s Scottish Premiership clash in West Lothian.

Sporting director Tony Asghar told the club’s official website: “After further discussions with the Scottish FA and Tayside Health Board, we have been advised that our non-playing staff who have been self-isolating should continue to do so.

Dundee United manager Micky Mellon will sit out the trip to Livingston

Dundee United manager Micky Mellon will sit out the trip to Livingston (Steve Welsh/PA)

“Our academy head of tactical performance Thomas Courts and other academy staff will lead the team for Saturday’s game against Livingston.

“Furthermore, nine members of our squad are now self-isolating as a precaution due to having close contact with medical staff.”

The Tannadice crisis comes in the wake of both Kilmarnock and St Mirren being penalised for breaching protocols ahead of postponed games in October.

Motherwell were awarded 3-0 wins over both clubs while Hamilton drew level with St Mirren at the foot of the Premiership after being handed three points following their postponed match against the Buddies.

Well manager Stephen Robinson was glad of the clarity after a lengthy investigation from the Scottish Professional Football League and the tribunal panel’s consideration, but admitted he had sympathy with the two penalised clubs.

Stephen Robinson welcomed the clarity

Stephen Robinson welcomed the clarity (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Robinson said: “All we wanted was a decision so we could get on with things and obviously we wanted the fixtures put in the schedule as quickly as possible. It probably makes sense why it took so long now. We are glad we have got some clarity from our point of view.

“I have sympathy for everybody in this situation. We are not in control of anything at the moment. I can only speak for Motherwell, you plan a training week and you might only be able to train one day because if you get any kind of scare, the club closes down and everyone gets tested.”

Both of Motherwell’s games were called off at short notice after Covid-19 cases caused Killie to place their entire first-team squad in self-isolation and left St Mirren with four goalkeepers and eight outfield players.

Robinson had been concerned about how they were going to fit in any rearranged games amid an already heavy schedule.

“It was certainly going to be a problem with injury issues and timings,” he said. “You add that into the unknown of the Covid situation and track and trace, and I don’t know where they were going to put the fixtures in.

“There was always the potential to get those points anyway if the games had been played. I would be targeting at least four points from those two games.”

Kilmarnock felt aggrieved that they were punished when they felt they were following government rules with one-metre physical distancing on coaches and on meals.

Robinson said: “Our protocols are very, very good. I can’t comment on anyone else’s, only mine. With Covid, you need a little bit of luck, not catching it in the first place.

“But our protocols are very good and I don’t think there is anything we need to readjust from the report.”

Hamilton head coach Brian Rice admitted the tribunal decision had further sharpened minds on implementing safety rules.

Brian Rice's side gained three points

Brian Rice’s side gained three points (Craig Foy/PA)

“Decisions have been made, but it’s nothing to do with me,” he said.

“We have obviously benefited from what happened but it just shows we have got to be vigilant, we have got to abide by the rules. Every club is doing that now.

“We have been very strict and stringent here. Scott Struthers does a fantastic job for us. Every day the players and coaches get emails telling us to do the proper things.

“I’m sure every single club is doing the best we can because we know there’s going to be repercussions if we don’t do it properly.

“This shows there can be severe repercussions, it makes us all very aware of what could happen.”

Clyde have had a second League One game postponed after four positive cases prompted more players to self-isolate ahead of last weekend’s scheduled fixture with East Fife.

Clyde were unable to raise a team for Forfar’s visit to Broadwood on Saturday.

A league statement read: “As a result, and in line with standard procedure, the SPFL has postponed the fixture pending an investigation into the circumstances leading to the postponement. “