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St Mirren and Kilmarnock ponder options after being punished with defeats

Rangers v St Mirren – Scottish Premiership – Ibrox Stadium
(Image credit: Craig Foy)

St Mirren and Kilmarnock are considering their options after being consigned to Scottish Premiership defeats for breaches of coronavirus protocols.

Motherwell have been awarded 3-0 victories over both clubs and St Mirren have also been handed a 3-0 defeat by Hamilton after a Scottish Professional Football League disciplinary tribunal made its long-awaited ruling.

A sub-committee of the SPFL board, chaired by an independent senior solicitor and involving a sheriff “highly experienced in sports disputes”, heard both clubs’ cases on November 10-11 after Covid-19 outbreaks forced the postponement of three league matches in October.

An SPFL statement declared that Kilmarnock had admitted breaches including a failure to implement the necessary physical distancing on a coach to an away game and during a pre-match meal.

St Mirren admitted the same breaches plus “failing to provide suitable facilities to enable players to observe physical distancing at training”. The written verdict revealed that 10 players were sharing an eight-metre bench.

Saints also accepted that players had been car-sharing to and from training with up to four in one vehicle.

Both clubs were also handed suspended £40,000 fines.

Kilmarnock said in a brief statement: “The club is bitterly disappointed by the outcome of the SPFL disciplinary case.

“We are in discussions with our legal representatives and will make further comment in due course.”

St Mirren declared their “disappointment” and added: “The club operated honestly throughout the whole process and will review its position before issuing a further response.”

Clubs have the right of appeal to the Scottish Football Association.

The decision moved Motherwell up three places to fifth spot in the Premiership, four points off the top four. Bottom club Hamilton drew level with St Mirren on 11 points.

An SPFL spokesman said: “The Covid-19 regulations put in place by the SPFL and the detailed protocols issued by the SPFL/Scottish FA Joint Response Group are intended to enable season 2020/21 to continue with the minimum of disruption and the minimum risk for those players and coaching staff involved.

“Strict adherence to these regulations and protocols is therefore crucially important in order for season 20/21 to be completed as scheduled.

“We note the admission by each of Kilmarnock and St Mirren that they breached SPFL regulations and commend both clubs for the measures that their boards have recently put in place to avoid a repeat of the circumstances that led to the postponement of these matches in October.”

Kilmarnock’s home game against Motherwell was postponed on October 2 after their entire first-team squad were ordered to self-isolate following six positive cases.

They were handed a 3-0 Betfred Cup defeat against Falkirk the following week – automatically under the competition rules – after deciding not to utilise their youth-team squad.

St Mirren saw two players test positive and a third told to self-isolate at the start of the week leading up to the scheduled visit of Motherwell on October 17.

A further positive test prompted the game to be postponed inside three hours of kick-off after St Mirren told the SPFL they only had eight outfield players and four goalkeepers.

After further positive tests the following week, St Mirren only had 11 players available and the visit of Hamilton was called off on the Friday evening. The verdict revealed that nine players and two staff members in total tested positive.

Boli Bolingoli went to Spain and back without telling Celtic

Boli Bolingoli went to Spain and back without telling Celtic (Jeff Holmes/PA)

The SPFL previously issued immediate £8,000 fines to Celtic and Aberdeen after a total of five games were postponed on the orders of the Scottish Government following breaches of coronavirus rules by players.

Eight Aberdeen players were instructed to self-isolate, and two of them caught Covid-19, following a night out. Celtic’s Boli Bolingoli played against Kilmarnock days after failing to quarantine following a secret trip to Spain.

At the time, the league stated that both clubs had “gone to enormous lengths” to ensure their players adhered to all the rules, hence why the punishment for both clubs was limited.