SFA Chief Executive Ian Maxwell has refuted any suggestions that the Celtic Dubai trip played a part in the lower-league shutdown.

The SFA/SPFL Joint Response Group announced yesterday that Scottish football was heading for a stoppage. Leagues One and Two will now be halted for three weeks. The same goes for the junior leagues too whilst the Premiership and Championship will be able to continue.

The decision appeared to anger some lower-league professionals. Clyde star Ally Love tweeted his anger at Celtic being able to head to Dubai whilst the lower leagues had to call time. It remains to be seen how financially crippling this decision is for the lower rungs of Scottish football.

But Maxwell has denied the idea that the controversy over Celtic’s UAE visit played a part in the decision.

As quoted by the Scotsman, Maxwell said: “This is a decision we’ve taken to help stop the spread of the virus. It’s not linked to Celtic. This decision was talked about throughout most of last week with the JRG, and in-depth on Friday – before we knew of the Celtic situation.

“They are two absolutely separate things and they need to be kept like that. We have made this decision which largely separates full-time players from part-time, because there is more risk with part-time players.”

Ian Maxwell explains it well; Celtic trip can’t be blamed for everything

Celtic are such an easy target at the moment. Any negative that affects Scottish football will now be a direct result of Celtic’s actions in going to Dubai. Or at least that’s how plenty will portray it.

But Maxwell is spot on. It doesn’t make any sense to link Celtic to the lower league shutdown. What possible influence could a team’s foreign trip to a training camp have on a decision to cancel another league?

Sure, some will maybe point to the idea that the SFA/SPFL may be trying to appease government. Given the fact the Scottish Gov have been so critical of Celtic this week, relationships appear as though they need to be mended.

Ian Maxwell (left) says Celtic aren't to blame for lower-league shutdown
Ian Maxwell (left) says Celtic aren’t to blame for lower-league shutdown (Photo by Alan Harvey/SNS Group via Getty Images)

But Maxwell touches on a decent point. Part-time players are a lot more at risk than full-time players. Whilst full-time players stick to a professional bubble, part-time players may do a lot more mixing. Especially considering many in the lower leagues have full-time jobs elsewhere.

Hopefully those leagues which have been halted can resume after this three-week period. That’s to be reviewed by the SFA board in partnership with the Scottish Government. So there are plenty more big decisions to be made.

However, as easy as it is to launch a dig at Celtic for just about anything, they can’t be blamed for this. The SFA have now confirmed as much.

In other news, the Hibernian sporting director was absolutely fuming with the build-up to the Celtic game.

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