The Scottish Government has taken the ‘Dominic Cummings Option’ to a breech of testing procedures at Murray Park last week.
In full knowledge of the systems referee Craig Napier allowed a closed doors friendly against Dundee United to go ahead featuring nine players with out of date test results.
On July 11 SPFL clubs had testing reduced from twice a week to just once but that was still too much for Steven Gerrard’s squad with stars such as Jordan Jones, Ross McCrorie, Calvin Bassey, Greg Stewart, Glenn Middleton and Greg Stewart needing game time.
Two assistant referees were refused entry into Murray Park as someone followed the rules but Napier allowed the match to kick off with out of date negative results for nine of the 11 home players.
“You will all appreciate that there will be enhanced media attention on squads as training gets underway and the behaviour of all of our players and staff will be under scrutiny.
“We have been able to negotiate a dispensation for Premiership first team squads to return however all involved should be under no illusions that breaches of the agreed parameters will lead to the Scottish Government removing our exemption.
“Please ensure all staff and players are reminded of their responsibilities on an ongoing basis.”
Maxwell then repeats the warning in a separate attachment to his letter which hammers home the rules which politicians and health experts have put in place – and provides coaching staff with diagrams to explain exactly what the initial sessions must look like.
Maxwell underlines that failure to stick to the edicts will lead to the government ordering all training to be shut back down in a move Maxwell says would have ‘a catastrophic impact on our game’.
Playing untested players to improve their match fitness is a clear breech of the rules but typical of the SFA there was no punishment or sanctions in place.
Very conveniently the night before the Murray Park incident was revealed it was reported that seven St Mirren coaches had tested positive which was similar to the daily rate for te whole of Scotland that week.
Later on it was discovered that only one St Mirren coach had tested positive, muddying the waters from the Murray Park breech.
Covering Jason Leitch’s appearance on Off The Ball on Saturday BBC Scotland reported:
“A couple of friendly games had to be called off, but hopefully, all being well, the league can start on 1 August,” Professor Jason Leitch said.
He added that he rates the clubs’ testing system at eight out of 10.
But he revealed on BBC Scotland’s Off The Ball that a working group is examining a way of making the private testing, which produced the six false positives at St Mirren, more integrated with theNHS’s “Test and Protect” system.
“Just now, that testing is not as reliable as our NHS testing, so we then retest them and put them in the ‘Test and Protect’ system,” said Leitch.
“It may be that if we can get those labs examined and accredited, we can put all of that into one big bundle, but that is going to take a wee while because there’s quite a lot of private laboratories offering testing.”
Five days before Dundee United players were put at risk Hibs called off a friendly against Ross County because they were still waiting on test results returning.
Celtic and Ross County are the only clubs to have purchased the £35,000 machine needed to carry out their own testing.