The SPFL have launched a formal investigation after Kilmarnock’s entire playing squad were instructed to self-isolate by Scottish Government health officials.
Six Killie players tested positive for Covid-19 over the past week, leading to the postponement of Friday night’s clash with Motherwell at Rugby Park.
The decision to call off the match came ultimately from the SPFL on a grim day illustrating how coronavirus is continuing to cripple the sporting calendar.
The SPFL have launched an investigation after Kilmarnock’s squad were told to self-isolate
Now the governing body will carry out a probe into exactly what has gone wrong at the Ayrshire club.
Kilmarnock initially carried out routine private testing on Tuesday, with three players shown to have returned positive tests. These results were subsequently confirmed by NHS Scotland.
On Thursday, a further three players also tested positive. But, at that stage, Sportsmail understands the club would still have been willing to play against Motherwell.
That decision was taken out of their hands, following a meeting on Friday morning involving club officials, NHS Ayrshire and Arran, the Scottish Government and the Scottish FA.
Once Government officials had stepped in and ordered the entire squad to self-isolate, the club had no option but to write to the SPFL and request the fixture be postponed. At around 2.45pm on Friday afternoon, the match was officially called off.
Kilmarnock’s Scottish Premiership match with Motherwell on Friday night had to be postponed
It also throws into doubt Killie’s upcoming Betfred Cup fixtures, with the squad now in a period of self-isolation until October 14.
They are scheduled to face Falkirk on Tuesday night, before then hosting Dunfermline seven days later on October 13. But those games are now under review by SPFL chiefs.
On the postponement of the Motherwell game, an SPFL spokesman said: ‘No new date for this fixture has been set, pending the outcome of the SPFL investigation.’
Sportsmail understands that there remains a determination within the SPFL to get games played, rather than forcing clubs to forfeit fixtures or to award victories by default.
Privately, however, there is an acceptance among league chiefs that this is unlikely to be the last Covid outbreak at a Scottish club.
The SPFL board will meet on Monday to discuss what impact the Kilmarnock situation may have in particular on the Betfred Cup, which involves part-time clubs and is set to begin next week.
An SPFL statement on Friday read: ‘On 29 September, Kilmarnock FC carried out routine swab tests on their first-team squad of players in advance of the fixture this evening.
It also throws into doubt Killie’s upcoming Betfred Cup fixtures, with the squad now in isolation
‘This disclosed three players who tested positive for Covid-19. These positive results were subsequently confirmed by NHS Scotland.
‘On 1 October, Kilmarnock FC retested all of its remaining first-team players. The results have disclosed a further three first-team squad players who have tested positive for Covid-19.
‘A meeting led by NHS Ayrshire & Arran Public Health was held this morning, including representatives from Kilmarnock FC, the Scottish Government, Public Health Scotland and the Scottish FA.
‘NHS Ayrshire & Arran Test and Protect Team carried out Covid-19 contact tracing following the six confirmed positive tests at the club.
‘As a result, Kilmarnock FC has been advised by the local Problem Assessment Group that their whole first team playing squad require to immediately self-isolate.
‘This is in order to minimise the risk of further cases in the player and other staff groups at the club, in the wider local community, and to support Test and Protect.
‘Subsequently, Kilmarnock FC wrote to the SPFL indicating that they were not in a position to fulfil this evening’s scheduled fixture against Motherwell and the club requested a postponement of the fixture.
Six members of Alex Dyer’s Kilmarnock squad tested positive for Covid-19 over the past week
‘The SPFL board met this afternoon and has agreed to postpone the fixture whilst the position is investigated.
‘An investigation will now be carried out by the SPFL to ascertain the circumstances leading to this postponement.’
Motherwell were satisfied that the correct decision had been made in relation to Friday night’s game, with Kilmarnock’s Rugby Park stadium now undergoing a deep clean.
A club statement from Kilmarnock read: ‘The health and wellbeing of our players and staff remains critical and all six players are either asymptomatic or are experiencing mild symptoms at this time.’
The SPFL’s decision to postpone the fixture is likely to come under scrutiny, however, after St Mirren were forced to play against Hibs last month despite all three of their goalkeepers being told to self-isolate.
In theory, the SPFL could have ordered Killie to fulfil last night’s fixture by fielding their youth team. But Sportsmail understands that option was never under serious consideration.
A number of games involving Aberdeen and Celtic were previously postponed earlier this season on the advice of the Scottish Government after high- profile breaches of coronavirus protocols from players in each team.
Both clubs were given immediate £8,000 fines by the SPFL while their offending players were all dealt with separately under the Scottish Football Association disciplinary procedures.