Celtic Dubai trip has prompted a response from Nicola Sturgeon

Photo by Andy Buchanan – WPA POOL/Getty Images

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has warned Celtic not to abuse the leeway they were given after photos emerged from their training camp in Dubai.

Many have expressed concern about the Scottish champions travelling abroad on a non-essential journey in the midst of a pandemic, particularly with their flight occurring just two days before severe restrictions were put in place.

Fans were unimpressed with images that appeared to show players and staff relaxing just hours after Neil Lennon’s side fell 19 points behind Rangers in the title race thanks to a 1-0 defeat at Ibrox.

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It was confirmed on Monday that top-level football in Scotland would be allowed to continue despite the new restrictions, but the First Minister today emphasised the importance of Celtic following the rules.

In tweets posted on Tuesday afternoon, reporter Raman Bhardwaj quoted the First Minister as saying: “I’ve seen some photographs…that would raise a question in my mind about whether all the rules of what elite players have to do within their bubbles around social distancing are being complied with…so I think there are things that should be looked into.

“Elite sport has been in a privileged position over the last year doing things that the general public can’t do…It’s really important they don’t abuse it, that they use it for the purposes intended and that applies to Celtic as it would to anyone else in that position.”

BBC Scotland Sports News Correspondent Chris McLaughlin quoted the First Minister as saying: “We gave the SFA advice over elite training camps but it’s not up to us to sign off travel plans. The question is the purpose of them being there.”

Speaking to the BBC on Monday about Celtic’s trip, Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: “I don’t think it’s a good idea. I don’t think it’s a particularly great example to set.”

A Scottish Government statement said they “would expect the SFA to look into Celtic’s trip further.”

In response, Celtic released a three-part Twitter thread justifying the trip in which they insisted: “If the club had not received Scottish Government approval then we would not have travelled.”

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