St Mirren call for ‘change’ to SPFL rules after playing through Covid crisis with depleted squad against Celtic

The Paisley club state the don’t believe the current measures were applied “appropriately or fairly”

St Mirren will write to the SPFL to highlight measures they deem as not “appropriate or fair” in relation to Covid testing and isolation protocols after being forced to play Celtic without 11 first-team players.

A Covid outbreak ripped through the Paisley club last week, which left manager Jim Goodwin needing to recall youngsters from loan spells in the lower leagues in a desperate bid to field a team.

The Buddies held Ange Postecoglou’s Hoops to a goalless draw in Paisley, a result made even more impressive after Goodwin revealed some of his academy players on the bench hadn’t even met members of his senior squad before.

St Mirren manager Jim Goodwin pictured during the Celtic match at the SMiSA Stadium. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

The club’s request to postpone the match and call off Sunday’s trip to face Rangers was rejected by the SPFL on the grounds that they had more than 13 players over the age of 18 available, including a goalkeeper.

Saints chairman John Needham issued a statement via the clubs website expressing “the need for change”.

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It read: “Now that the dust has settled on a difficult day for everyone at the club I wanted to write to all of our fans.

“Firstly, I wish to apologise for any uncertainty surrounding whether the Celtic fixture would proceed and any inconvenience caused.

“Everyone at the club was working flat out to try to work through the difficulties caused by COVID infections amongst our employees and I want to thank all of our staff for their unstinting efforts.

“Next, I must thank Jim Goodwin and his staff for a heroic performance on the pitch and the professional way everyone handled the game in the in face of such adversity.

“I was extremely proud of every single player and I’m sure everyone watching would have been impressed by their application and fitness.

“On behalf of the Board I also want to record our disappointment at the situation we found ourselves in throughout. We understand that rules exist and are essential for the fair conduct of sporting competitions.

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“However, in the current pandemic we also feel that there needs to be judicious application of the rules, in this case, to take account of the law and guidance issued by Government around testing and isolation.

St Mirren chairman John Needham (right) has apologised for comments made about Rangers. (Photo by Ross MacDonald / SNS Group)

“We do not believe the rigid application of rules, agreed in a different set of circumstances, is appropriate or fair.

“We had to take the field without 11 of our first-team squad and a substitutes’ bench where none of the players had played first team football for the club.

“Indeed the situation would have been worse had we not received negative PCR Test results around 6pm allowing the players in question and their Close Contacts to play.

“If those tests had been positive we would have been forced to field all of the players listed as substitutes in the starting line-up.

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“We plan to write to the SPFL to highlight the difficulties we faced and our view of the need for change.”