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Covid-19 outbreak at Ross County likely to mean League Cup opener will be awarded to Forfar Athletic


By Alasdair Fraser

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Ross County are likely to face the punishment of a 3–0 defeat to Forfar with Saturday’s League Cup group opener now almost certain to be wiped out by the Covid-19 outbreak that has closed down the club.

The Championship outfit has been hit by eight or more positive coronavirus tests on the playing side, with non-playing football staff also said to be affected.

It is understood that club officials are now resigned to losing the away tie against the League Two Loons to the standard punishment after the precedent was set in the competition last season.

As the North Star went to press yesterday, talks were ongoing between County, NHS Highland’s health protection team, the SFA and the SPFL, with more clarity expected today.

Jordan White after the opener in a 5–0 friendly win at Elgin, but County’s preparations are now on ice. Picture: Ken Macpherson
Jordan White after the opener in a 5–0 friendly win at Elgin, but County’s preparations are now on ice. Picture: Ken Macpherson

New manager Malky Mackay is in the midst of rebuilding his squad and, with others from within County’s single football ‘bubble’ also isolating, has limited reserves to draw upon.

Harry Paton is on international duty with Canada in the CONCACAF Gold Cup, while Regan Charles-Cook is representing Grenada.

The club has five younger full-time professionals, but the North Star understands they have also been part of the first team bubble during pre-season. Otherwise, only players aged over 16 and on professional terms could be considered for selection.

A club statement issued on Tuesday broke news of the outbreak, but the club declined to confirm how many football staff and players were affected. County, in all, employ around 50 full and part-time playing and non-playing staff.

The statement read: “A number of Ross County players and coaching staff have tested positive for Covid-19. As a precaution, the club has temporarily suspended football operations to prevent any further spread of the virus.”

Staggies’ chief executive Steven Ferguson was unable to add much more to the statement, with talks ongoing over the next steps to be taken.

But Ferguson stressed County had adhered to the highest standards of Covid protection, hygiene and social-distancing since returning to action during the pandemic.

Ferguson said: “From the start, we’ve had robust measures in place at every area of the stadium. Following these positive tests, we’ve reacted swiftly and decisively in terms of shutting down.

“First and foremost, we have a duty of care to our players and staff.

“We’ve followed all of the Government guidelines, our own and the SFA’s protocols to the letter.

“We would expect there to be more discussions with the relevant authorities and I would expect there to be some more clarity in the next 24 hours.”

County at least have an eight-day cushion following the Forfar fixture before having to face Dundee on Sunday, July 18, which would be after the isolation period for anyone who tested positive, or was identified as a close contact, allowing them to return to football.


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