Scottish football’s top stars have been given a grim government warning that Covid-19 can prove deadly for anyone.
All top flight managers and captains took part in an unprecedented video conference call with national clinical director Jason Leitch last night on the back of the protocol breach which plunged Aberdeen into crisis last week when two of Derek McInnes' players tested positive for coronavirus after mingling with revellers during a night on the town.
And while Leitch stressed that a similar rule break could see the professional game shut down by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon he also made a highly personal plea to the skippers not to make the mistake of believing they are too young and too fit to feel the full force of the deadly disease.
One source told revealed last night: “Jason really got through to the players in the way he went about delivering the message.
“He told a story about a mate of his who contracted the virus and who was in hospital for three months fighting for his life. The guy was a really fit 41-year-old and he nearly died with this disease.
“Thankfully he survived but now he can’t walk up the stairs.
“He was basically warning them that this virus is not to be taken lightly. If players believe they can’t be harmed by it then they are wrong. It’s not just a disease which strikes older people or folk with underlying health issues.
“He also spoke about the death rate across the globe compared with previous pandemics just to hammer home the message.
“Basically, he made it clear that if players abide by the rules and are sensible about it then the government won’t have to intervene. But if there’s another incident like the one in Aberdeen then they will be putting football in this country at risk.”
Last night football’s Joint Response Group released a statement confirming the discussions with Prof Leitch - and revealing that Aberdeen have ramped up their own anti-Covid protocol in the wake of last week’s scandal.
SFA president Rod Petrie said: “The JRG is thankful to Professor Leitch, as well as the managers and captains of Scottish Premiership clubs, for facilitating a video call to reinforce the message that Scottish football is serious in its commitment to helping the country emerge from the COVID crisis as safely as possible.
“The events of last week were deeply regrettable but the JRG commends the immediate response by the Aberdeen owner, David Cormack, and the manager, Derek McInnes, in dealing with the matter and providing government with the necessary confidence that there will be no repeat.
“Scottish football must continue to work together to ensure the national game remains a safe and secure environment for all participants, but it must also be mindful of its role in promoting and protecting public health messages, behaviours and obligations.
“Harsh lessons have been learned by Aberdeen that will have been heeded by the rest of Scottish football and that message was made clear to Professor Leitch this evening.”