Dundee United are convinced they have contained a Covid-19 outbreak, as David Martindale’s calls for a two-week Scottish football shutdown have received little support.
The Livingston manager has claimed the Premiership will have to bring forward its winter break after United reported positive cases and St Johnstone lost Chris Kane over new isolation rules for domestic cases.
But United head coach Tam Courts later revealed that the only disruption his team had faced this week, aside from the loss of some players, was to delay Thursday’s training session until in the afternoon to receive the results of the PCR tests.
Courts expect to bring a reasonably strong team to face Rangers at Ibrox on Saturday, although players were already missing due to injury.
âLast week we had a positive case with a staff member and this week we had a few positive cases within the squad,â said Courts.
âBut we still had a really good week of planning and managed to minimize the disruption, and I was at the Rangers game on Wednesday night.
âI still think we have a healthy squad to choose from and we’re excited about the game. It’s almost business as usual.
âI’m aware that these things can be a touching party by Saturday, but right now it’s all contained.
“The process is complete and it was finalized this (Thursday) morning.”
With the number of cases increasing in Scotland and the more rapid spread of the Omicron strain on the verge of becoming the dominant variant, more disruption is expected.
Martindale, seeing the number of postponed games in England increase, said: âIf you asked me what I would do now, I would close the league for two weeks. I would have a blackout and go back.
âI don’t think it’s fair for teams even when they meet the criteria of 13 players, as many over 18, two goalies. I don’t think it’s fair to the competition and the product.
Martindale revealed that several of his club staff were in isolation and added: “Is this going to spill over into the football department anytime soon? I imagine it.
“My daughter is in school, so how many homes does Georgia attend on a daily basis?” Will Covid potentially enter my house, at the Livingston Football Club? I think it is. Is there anything we can do to stop it? I really don’t think there is.
âSo we have to be smart about how we approach this. I think this is going to have a huge impact on Scottish football over the next couple of weeks.
The Premiership winter break begins after the Edinburgh derby on January 3.
Martindale said: âWe booked to go somewhere, but is that really why you wouldn’t? This is not the case ?
âDundee United is just the start. It’s going to affect us all and I think it’s going to get worse as the days and weeks go by.
“Could we do a blackout and start two weeks earlier in the winter window?” It’s easy for me sitting here saying that, I understand the logistics with SPFL and SFA, but for me it’s an option.
“I don’t think it’s fair that, say, a week later we make this decision and three or four clubs had disappointing results because of the Omicron variant.”
However, the Scottish Professional Football League quickly scheduled more festive fixtures.
Airdrie’s Ligue 1 game against Queen’s Park, which was recently postponed due to a Covid outbreak among the Diamonds squad, has been rescheduled for December 29.
High-flying Scottish clubs then held talks in an attempt to find ways to deal with the increased threat.
A spokesperson for the Scottish Football Authorities Joint Response Group said: ‘Following a videoconference discussion with the Premiership clubs, the JRG will begin a consultation on the potential strengthening of protocols by the winter break to strengthen measures Scottish football to tackle the spread of Covid. -19 and increased transmission of new variants.
Hearts manager Robbie Neilson disagreed with Martindale.
“We have the break in January, which will hopefully give us a chance to see him for a bit,” he added.
“One of the things you have to remember with football is that people’s lives revolve around it and they need it during this festive period, hence the reason why there are so many of matches.
“We have an obligation to make sure that we don’t get into areas where we’re going to be problematic, but also to make sure that we put on games.”
Ross County manager Malky Mackay believes clubs need to “keep best practices” while continuing to play.
“There are a lot of things clubs could help each other out and I’m not talking about spending a fortune, I’m talking about best practices and being sensitive to the approach you take in terms of what a bubble is. and what a red area looks like, “he added.
The courts added: “At this point, based on what I have, with the excitement of the matches ahead, I still want us to play football, with fans in the stadiums as well.”