Nicola Sturgeon has not ruled out changing elite exemption rules for sport in Scotland if coronavirus protocols are not strictly adhered to by clubs.
Elite-level sport in Scotland is being permitted to continue despite a national stay at home instruction which was issued by the government amid a surge in positive cases, as Sturgeon ordered a March-style full lockdown earlier this week.
The first minister’s latest comments come prior to second round fixtures in the Scottish Cup and five Scottish Premiership ties taking place this weekend.
Sturgeon said during her daily coronavirus briefing on Friday: “The exemptions for professional football, and elite sportspeople generally, are not just for their benefit – we are trying to give people that bit of entertainment and normality.
“But, if any sport does not stick to the restrictions, and doesn’t make sure all the mitigations are in place and that what they are being allowed to do, which is a privilege, is done safely, then all bets are off.
“We will have to look again at that and we cannot guarantee that we won’t have to change this in the future. To the sportspeople involved, you are being given privileges at the moment so make sure you don’t abuse them and that you are being absolutely rigorous within these privileges.”
Sturgeon has also criticised Celtic’s warm-weather training trip to Dubai, which Hoops manager Neil Lennon has claimed was “very worthwhile”, but the SFA will not look into the training camp in the United Arab Emirates after it received a request from the government to do so.
Jason Leitch, Scotland’s clinical director, also urged clubs and players to remain vigilant amid a surge in Covid-19 cases nationwide.
He said during the briefing: “Footballers can move around the country tomorrow with their club doctors and their management.
“However they must have very strong mitigations in place to do so, both for travel and for competing.
“I would expect their support staff to be the lowest level possible and to remember distancing and face coverings and all the other elements the rest of us has to face.
“For now, professional sport remains exempt and they can travel – but they have to still be careful. Some of them may have the virus and they should behave as if they have.”