Celtic boss Neil Lennon says his squad is following coronavirus protocols on their winter warm-weather training trip to Dubai, after Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon questioned the purpose of it.
Since heading to the United Arab Emirates at the weekend, mainland Scotland has entered a new Covid-19 lockdown with a legally enforced ‘stay at home’ order, although elite sport can continue.
The Scottish Premiership champions, who are 19-points behind leaders Rangers following a 1-0 defeat to their Old Firm rivals at the weekend, pushed back their next game against Hibernian to Monday night to make the camp possible.
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While Ms Sturgeon has confirmed the trip was signed off by the Government, she questioned the behaviour of Celtic’s players in her daily coronavirus briefing on Tuesday.
"What is the purpose of them being there? I've seen a comment from the club that said it's more for R and R than it is for training”, said Ms Sturgeon.
"I've also seen some photographs, and I can only comment on what I've seen as I don't know the full circumstances, that would raise a question in my mind of whether all the reams of what elite players have to do within their bubbles, if social distancing is being complied with.
There are things that should be looked into.
Lennon, though, insists all measures are being adhered to, and says the break is a key part of their season: “The camp was arranged some time ago, with the full consultation of the footballing authorities and given approval by the Scottish Government”.
“Of course, we understand that we are in very unique and difficult times and there are now even tougher restrictions in place at home, but the camp is risk assessed and arranged in conjunction with Scottish football’s Joint Response Group.
“We have put in place all the appropriate protocols and we have undertaken the camp as we see the sporting benefits from it and hope it can do for us what it has done in the past.”
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