JONNY HAYES, one of the Aberdeen Eight who broke Scottish Government’s coronavirus guidelines, has sent out a heartfelt apology.
The Republic of Ireland international, who rejoined the Pittodrie club in the summer after three years at Celtic, expressed his remorse and admited a huge error in judgement.
Hayes and seven team-mates visited a city centre pub after their 1-0 home defeat from Rangers a week ago yesterday.
The versatile player is now having to self-isolate after two colleagues tested positive.
The incident sparked an angry reaction and led to the Dons’ game with St Johnstone, scheduled for McDiarmid Park yesterday, being postponed with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon warning the game could be thrown into lockdown chaos.
Hayes was with fellow-Dons Sam Cosgrove, Scott McKenna, Craig Bryson, Dylan McGeouch, Michael Devlin, Matty Kennedy and Bruce Anderson and he released a statement to emphasise his regret.
The 33-year-old utility ace, speaking to RedTV, said: “We, as a small group of players, made a mistake.
“We wanted to put it out there that it wasn’t a case of football players thinking they are above the rules or the guidelines. We made the mistake, we put our hands up, we’re obviously remorseful. There’s a lot of different implications that have come along with our error of judgement.
“It was never intentional or deliberate to try and flaunt the guidelines. We thought because we were together every day we were part of one big household, that’s where we went wrong.
“We went out for dinner, we went to a city centre venue and, looking back, we shouldn’t have done that, we know that.
“It was a genuine mistake, we tried to stick to the whole social distancing measures put in place, we weren’t hanging about in big queues, we weren’t doing anything we thought would let ourselves down at the time. We genuinely thought we were doing okay.
“It’s been proved and it’s been shown that we’ve made a mistake, so we just wanted to come out and apologise to everybody. Looking back now, there’s been some serious ramifications to the game, not just the St Johnstone game, the Scottish game as a whole.
“We apologise to not just the Aberdeen fans, but the whole Scottish game, really.”
Hayes added: “Eight players have to isolate for two weeks, that in itself is punishment. I suppose you get a better understanding of it, even though there are players there who have tested negative again, again and again, but, as per guidelines, which we have been sticking to.
“Footballers get a bad rep for different reasons, but this four or five months has been tough for everybody, we’ve jumped straight from lockdown to pre-season. It’s been brilliant getting football back and it was never our intention to put that in jeopardy.
“It’s a livelihood that we don’t just consider for ourselves, it’s a livelihood for thousands of people across Scotland in different sectors.
“It was never an intention to put that at risk. It’s the last thing we want as footballers. It’s a simple job, you train, you play, you live your life right and work around that. The last thing we wanted was more of a lockdown or sitting at home sitting around and not just for ourselves but everyone associated with football.
“Hindsight is a wonderful thing, we shouldn’t have gone for dinner, we shouldn’t have gone to a bar, it wasn’t a team night-out or anything. People were home early, lads were driving etc, no drinking. It wasn’t what it was made out to be, but, still, it was a mistake and we should have known better.”
The game against the Perth club has been rescheduled for a week on Thursday.