SCOTTISH Football is on a yellow card. A sentence which should provoke the same sort of unease as ‘Terry Hurlock is on a yellow card.’ You just know that sooner or later, the reprieve will be shown to have been a temporary one. Some players, like good ol’ Terry, just can’t help themselves.

The warning dished out to our footballers this week by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was a stark one, and for the majority of players, it will likely have been one they will have heeded. One more transgression, and you’re off. Not just the player involved in any breach of the coronavirus guidelines, but the whole kit and kaboodle.

You may think that the prospect of football being shut down once more, and the financial rack and ruin that would follow for our clubs, would be enough of a deterrent for any players considering a wee night out on the town. Or perhaps the not at all bizarre notion of a 24-hour trip to Spain. But this was known long before the reckless actions of the so-called ‘Aberdeen Eight’ and Celtic’s Boli Bolingoli, and yet both parties still pressed ahead with their imbecilic actions.

Now, there is an element of understanding here from the point of view of the Aberdeen players, as I’m sure they weren’t the only occupants of the Granite City to hit the bevvy after seeing their performance against Rangers on the opening day. And in the case of Bolingoli, if he was indeed in Spain to discuss a transfer to a new club, a great many Celtic fans would probably have chipped in for his air fare. Maybe even Neil Lennon, too.

As soon as he is out of his delayed spell of quarantine, Bolingoli may well be given a one-way ticket, with the full-back about as welcome in the Celtic dressing room now as a verruca outbreak in the showers.

Footballers are human beings, and are unfairly characterised as simpletons at times. That may be reinforced by Bolingoli being plastered all over the front page of the Daily Record dripping in designer gear when he was supposed to be travelling incognito, right enough, but the point stands.

They are also worth the money they take home for the most part due to the cash they generate for the businesses who employ them, despite frequent and nonsensical comparisons to public sector workers, whose level of pay is the responsibility of the government.

But when such heroic sacrifices have been made by the likes of nurses, doctors and others all across our emergency services during this pandemic, it is little wonder that sympathy for the Aberdeen players and Bolingoli is in seriously short supply.

It should be pointed out that many players have taken wage cuts in order to ease the financial impact of the pandemic on their club, but it is little wonder that the hundreds of thousands of fans who have forked out their own hard-earned cash in such uncertain times for season tickets - without a guarantee of how many games they will see in the flesh - haven’t exactly got the violins out.

The thing is, we all probably know folk who have breached Covid-19 restrictions here and there, and they will never trouble a front page. Footballers are as prone to human frailties, whether that be carelessness (if we are being kind) or selfishness (if we are being frank) as anyone else.

It is therefore hard to foresee a situation, given the law of averages, that there won’t be at least one player who slips up and puts the whole game – and the future of several of our clubs – at serious risk in the process.

The SPFL are considering bringing in more stringent punishments for individuals who break the rules as a stronger deterrent, while the likes of former SFA chief executive Gordon Smith have called for points deductions from clubs when their players breach the guidelines.

Perhaps hitting players in the pocket would be the best way to stamp out such behaviour, but the notion of docking points seems a little unfair when every club has gone to extraordinary lengths to not only create a safe environment for players to train and play in, but in hammering home the message to their employees that any missteps put the very future of their club in peril. They can’t monitor their players 24 hours a day.

If the message hasn’t sunk in with a few of them by now, then it is hard to see what else can be said to persuade any bad apples that they are about to ruin it all for everyone else.

The First Minister has tried to speak in language that they will understand, but as much as it pains me to say it, it’s hard to see this entire season not being given an early bath.