CELTIC have been slammed by Scotland's deputy first minister for flying to a Dubai training camp. 

John Swinney has accused the East End team of not setting a "particularly great example" for jetting off to the winter sun just hours after their Old Firm defeat on Saturday.

Neil Lennon's side arrived in the United Arab Emirates - which is currently on the list of exempt countries - on the eve of fresh lockdown restrictions being introduced in Scotland to curb the spread of a new variant of Covid-19. 

"I don't think it's a good idea," Mr Swinney told BBC Radio Scotland this evening. 

"I don't think it's a particularly great example to set. 

READ MORE: Holyrood ask SFA to look into Celtic trip to Dubai - and warn against abuse of elite sport travel exemptions

"When we are asking members of the public to take on very, very significant restrictions on the way in which they live their lives, I think we have all got to demonstrate leadership on this particular question."

When asked on BBC Radio Scotland's Drivetime if the defending Scottish champions would be allowed back into the country, Mr Swinney added: "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."

In November, Celtic requested their fixture with Hibernian, originally scheduled for this weekend, be moved to Monday, 11 January to accommodate the trip, with the SPFL granting the change.

Lennon's side, who have won the previous nine league titles, trail rivals Rangers by 19 points in the Scottish Premiership, having played three games fewer.

READ MORE: Probe after Celtic players abused by sectarian bigots before Rangers Old Firm clash

Shortly following Mr Swinney's comments, the Scottish Government called on the Scottish Football Association to look into the trip. 

Glasgow Times: Neil Lennon's side jetted off to Dubai following their defeat to Rangers Neil Lennon's side jetted off to Dubai following their defeat to Rangers

A spokesman 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."