Late change of referee for Celtic's trip to Ross County was Covid-19 related

Bobby Madden was forced to drop out of refereeing Celtic’s match with Ross County on Sunday evening after coming into close contact with another official who tested positive for Covid-19.
Referee Bobby Madden has been forced to drop out of tonight's game. Picture: SNSReferee Bobby Madden has been forced to drop out of tonight's game. Picture: SNS
Referee Bobby Madden has been forced to drop out of tonight's game. Picture: SNS

The whistler was part of a three-man team who took charge of Olympiacos and Panathanaikos last weekend. One of his assistants, David Roome, later turned up a positive test.

Madden and second assistant Graeme Stewart have now been instructed to self-isolate for 10 days. The latter was incorrectly allowed to run the line during Hibs’ match with Hamilton Accies on Saturday afternoon.

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An SFA statement read: “The Scottish FA has this evening withdrawn Bobby Madden from his duties as match official for the Scottish Premiership match between Ross County and Celtic after he was identified as a close contact of a positive COVID-19 case.

“Bobby was one of three Scottish match officials in charge of the derby match between Panathinaikos and Olympiakos in Athens last Sunday. These appointments were requested by UEFA and organised and arranged by the Greek FA, in compliance with UEFA’s COVID-19 protocols and including the relevant testing regime.

“Upon return, one assistant referee, David Roome, was retested on Tuesday evening and returned a positive test on Wednesday. Two negative tests had been undertaken on the Friday and Saturday prior to the match.

“Bobby and the other assistant, Graeme Stewart, returned a further two negative tests this week since returning, in addition to the UEFA required tests.

"Notwithstanding the above, upon further investigation by the Scottish FA’s medical consultant they have been considered close contacts under Scottish Government regulations.

“We are aware that Graeme Stewart was assistant referee at yesterday’s Premiership match between Hibernian and Hamilton Academical. We have informed both clubs as part of a review of process initiated today and Dr MacLean has informed the Elite Sports Clinical Advisory Group. No players or members of team staff involved in yesterday’s match have been identified as close contacts of Graeme.

“As a result, all three match officials must now undertake 10 days of self-isolation dated from Monday 15 February, as the date of last contact for Bobby and Graeme, and from Tuesday 16, the date of the positive test for David.”

SFA chief executive Ian Maxwell added: “While the circumstances are complex the reality is that under Scottish Government guidelines all match officials involved in the trip should be considered close contacts.

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“I have reiterated that the positive case and subsequent contact tracing should have been undertaken in line with the Scottish Government’s guidelines and the established system utilised by ESCAG.

“I have tonight apologised to Hibernian and Hamilton Academical for the unnecessary risk of having an assistant referee at a match when he should have been self-isolating, however much it is mitigated by two negative tests in the build-up to the match.

“As part of an internal review, I have asked the respective departments to ensure we maintain the highest standards of compliance relevant to Scottish Government protocols.”

Madden was replaced by fourth official David Munro just hours before kick off in the Highlands. He was be assisted by Alan Mulvanny and John McCrossan with Billy Baxter stepping into the fourth official role.

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