Celtic Chief Executive Peter Lawwell has apologised for the club’s decision to travel to Dubai for a training camp during a global pandemic.
The reigning Scottish Premiership champions spent almost a week on a lucrative warm weather training camp in the gulf state. 13 players and manager Neil Lennon were forced to self-isolate after defender Christopher Jullien subsequently tested positive for COVID-19.
The club have been roundly criticised for travelling abroad during the current climate, with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon questioning the decision. Lawwell has admitted it was a ‘mistake’ but called criticism of the club’s values and integrity ‘unfair’.
“It’s been an extremely difficult few days,” Lawwell told Celtic’s official club website. “In reflection, looking back and looking with hindsight and looking at the outcome of the trip, clearly it was a mistake and for that I profoundly apologise to our supporters.
“We left here and the rational for the camp was very much the best intentions. Things haven’t gone as we intended and the outcome is very regrettable.”
Lawwell explained that Celtic had ensured the same travel protocols were in place that have previously been implemented for their Europa League trips this season and had until this point not yielded a positive COVID test.
“If you look back over the last four years, going to camp in Dubai has been extremely successful, and the decisions we made are entirely in the best interests of the team and the best interests of the club,” the Celtic Chief Executive added.
“What we planned to do was take them to these facilities again, after a very hectic program in November and December, which in the past has proven to be a great benefit in terms of performance after January – so that was the rational.
“We decided way back in November to go and clearly the landscape has changed significantly, particularly in the run up to us going to Dubai in terms of the infection rate and whatever. But at the time Dubai infection rate was low and it was still part of the green corridor for UK and Scottish travel.”