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Kilmarnock to challenge allegations of breaking coronavirus protocols

Kilmarnock file photo
(Image credit: Jeff Holmes)

Kilmarnock have vowed to defend themselves against allegations they broke coronavirus protocols ahead of their postponed game against Motherwell.

Killie are facing the prospect of a 3-0 defeat being imposed on them for the October 2 fixture after the Scottish Professional Football League instigated disciplinary proceedings.

An investigation was launched after six positive Covid-19 tests led to the entire Killie first-team squad being instructed to self-isolate.

The SPFL has now announced that a hearing will be held before a sub-committee of the board, chaired by an “independent legally-qualified chair”. The date of the hearing is still to be announced.

A brief Kilmarnock statement responded: “The club will defend our position fully.”

Speaking on Thursday, Killie manager Alex Dyer had said on the ongoing investigation: “I know we’ve done the best we could. It’s time to stop blaming. The virus is out there in the world and we just have to get on with it.”

Motherwell also had their next fixture against St Mirren postponed after the Buddies were left with only eight outfield players and four goalkeepers following three positive tests and a number of self-isolation orders.

The Paisley club reported more positive cases on Thursday night and have been involved in talks with public health officials on Friday with their home game against Hamilton on Saturday in doubt.

The SPFL announcement came after the league began a fresh consultation with clubs over contingency plans for coronavirus-related disruption.

Clubs are being asked again to consider giving the SPFL board powers to determine the fate of the season. The proposal was rejected in July but the league believes some clubs have reconsidered their position and has launched a survey of all 42 members.

Clubs will be asked how many matches they think should have to be played before final placings can be decided rather than a season being declared void.

Members will also be asked whether league games should be routinely forfeited if a club cannot fulfil a fixture, as happens in the Betfred Cup.

Last season was curtailed after a controversial vote of all members, with the decision unsuccessfully challenged in court by relegated Hearts, Partick Thistle and Stranraer. Rangers also launched a failed bid to instigate an independent investigation into the process.

Neil Doncaster hopes to secure more clarity

Neil Doncaster hopes to secure more clarity (Jeff Holmes/PA)

SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster said: “The fact that our rules did not expressly cover the situation where a season must be curtailed with a number of matches remaining to be played caused a great deal of uncertainty and delay in reaching a resolution last season. No-one wants to see that repeated.

“Many of our clubs support the principle of drawing up a set of protocols long before we get to the situation where league positions understandably influence the individual approach of clubs to these difficult situations.

“However, the proposal to allow the board a clearly specified and limited degree of authority to take action if we are unable to complete the season did not have sufficient support in the summer.

“Given the ongoing challenges caused to sport worldwide by Covid-19, several clubs have now indicated they have changed their position.

“The board wishes to establish if a sufficient number of clubs now wish to revisit this issue, so we can significantly reduce the uncertainty and division that arose towards the end of last season.”

Doncaster added: “If there is sufficient support to secure an amendment to the SPFL rules, then all clubs will know well in advance of any need to curtail the season what the outcome will be – so far as concerns league positions, promotion, relegation, play-offs, fees and qualification for UEFA competitions.”