CELTIC have been slammed for “buzzing off” to Dubai on a training trip during the new peak of the coronavirus pandemic by an expert scientist.

Hugh Pennington, emeritus professor of bacteriology at Aberdeen University, called into question the logic behind the Hoops’ trip to the Middle East this winter.

He said: “I don’t think it’s a good idea. Can’t they train in Glasgow? There might be a greater risk in Dubai and the team can’t ensure the infection control procedures. Why expose the team to unnecessary risk.

Glasgow Times:

“You’ve only got to get one player infected. I’m not accusing them of bad behaviour but we know that footballers sometimes find it hard to keep themselves to themselves. It would add to the risk, perhaps not substantially but measurably, so why take the risk when you can do the training at home?

“How do you keep every one of them from getting out?

“It doesn’t look particularly good when everyone else is not allowed to go out, here are the footballers buzzing off on a nice trip to a nice place, staying in a posh hotel. It just doesn’t strike a very good tone, I don’t think. The risk is not very big but why take it?”

The Parkhead side started training in the Gulf State on Monday. A post on the team’s official Twitter said: “A tough first Hoops training session as the Bhoys work hard in Dubai this morning.”

Glasgow Times:

This week, Dubai will enjoy temperatures around the low to mid-twenties today as Glasgow is plunged into icy weather with the mercury expected to dip below zero for the next few nights.

The Celtic squad took off on Sunday night hours after their 1-0 defeat to Rangers at Ibrox for their midseason break.

Glasgow Times:

It comes as Nicola Sturgeon announced tough new lockdown measures for Scotland to curb rapidly rising coronavirus cases.

She said: “I can confirm now, in summary, that we decided to introduce from tomorrow, for the duration of January, a legal requirement to stay at home except for essential purposes. This is similar to the lockdown of March last year.”

Glasgow Times:

But yesterday Celtic’s David Turnbull insisted the trip was not a holiday.

The midfielder said: “It’s definitely not a break.

“We will be working hard on the training ground and putting things right. It will be an intense training camp.”

The team is not breaking rules by going abroad as they are exempt from travel restrictions which have seen many cancel holidays and trips.

Dubai, as with the rest of the United Arab Emirates, is not on the Scottish government’s travel exempt list, meaning the team will not need to self-isolate for 10 days on their return.

When asked if the defending Scottish champions would be allowed back into the country, Mr Swinney said: “They will be allowed back in but they will have to follow all rules in the process and you know, frankly I don’t think it’s a very good idea to be doing that at this stage.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We would expect the SFA to look into Celtic’s trip further – while there are travel exemptions for elite sports which are designed to facilitate international and European competition, if we feel they’re being abused, we won’t hesitate to remove this privilege.”

A Celtic FC spokesman said: “The training camp was arranged a number of months ago and approved by all relevant footballing authorities and Scottish Government through the Joint Response Group on November 12, 2020. 
“The team travelled prior to any new lockdown being in place, to a location exempt from travel restrictions. 

“The camp, the same one as we have undertaken for a number of years has been fully risk assessed.

“If the club had not received Scottish Government approval, then we would not have travelled.”