IAN Maxwell, the SFA chief executive, last night stated that Holyrood have given no indication that Scottish football is facing another complete shutdown after the leagues below Championship level were suspended for three weeks.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon admitted at her daily briefing yesterday that the rules for elite sports during the Covid-19 pandemic would be reviewed in the wake of Celtic’s controversial trip to Dubai last week.

Her pledge came after the Parkhead club announced that 13 players and three staff members – including manager Neil Lennon – had been forced to self-isolate after centre half Christopher Jullien returned a positive coronavirus test result on Sunday.

Ms Sturgeon gave the game in this country a “yellow card” back in August after requesting that two Aberdeen games and two Celtic matches were postponed as a result of their players flouting regulations.

However, Maxwell stressed that the SFA were working closely with ministers to ensure that, as infection rates across the country rise, the Premiership and Championship seasons can continue as scheduled.

“Right now the Scottish government and UK government have a professional sport exemption in place,” he said “And the thing that would stop the Championship and Premiership continuing is that professional sport exemption being removed by the government.

“Now, will that happen? I have absolutely no idea. I think with the Tier 4 restrictions in place we’re doing everything we can to stop getting back to the initial lockdown we had when everything was closed.

“That’s got to be everybody’s aim. But until we get to the point where somebody is telling us: ‘Listen, because of all these reasons, that has to fall,’ we just don’t know. But there has been no indication any all from Scottish government that the professional sport exemption is going to be removed. Until we hear otherwise we’ll just continue.

“The government are very aware of the benefits of football and how important it is to the country. Obviously the government are going to review their restrictions and regulations and we are going to see what impact that has. We’ll be doing that together. There will be dialogue and conversations.”

Meanwhile, Maxwell dismissed claims the SFA had been pressurised into examining breaches of Covid-19 regulations by Celtic in the United Arab Emirates and insisted the First Minister was correct to call for an investigation.

“I think she’s right,” he said. “Any breach of a rule or a Covid breach is up to the governing body to be involved in. That’s not for the government to be involved in. They don’t micro-manage Scottish football.

“So I don’t feel under pressure about it at all. She’s absolutely right. If there’s breaches of protocol it’s up to us as a governing body to deal with it. That’s what we have done previously and that’s what we will continue to do.

“There’s looking into the fact that they went and there’s looking into what happened when they are away. The trip was government approved. There’s nothing to see there. What happened when they are abroad, if there are things that need to be looked at then that’s what we will do.

“The disciplinary process that we have is well used. We have a compliance officer who looks at all sorts of alleged breaches from all sorts of clubs over all sorts of alleged incidents.”

Maxwell dismissed suggestions that the high number of Celtic players and staff who have been forced to enter quarantine proved there had been breaches of regulations in Dubai.

“It doesn’t,” he said. “The reason I say that is when I look at the (Scotland) under-21s. If you have one positive case on a bus, for example, public health guidance knocks out two rows in front and two rows behind.

“If you have a positive case on a plane they knock out two rows in front and two rows behind. And what I mean by knock out is they identify everyone in those seats as close contacts and they are forced to self-isolate. This is the challenge we are seeing on a regular basis in terms of travel.”

Maxwell declined to offer an opinion on whether Celtic should have travelled to Dubai. “From a permission perspective, they asked in November through our competitions department, who are in touch with the Scottish government, that they wanted to go to Dubai for a period of time,” he said.

“If clubs have done something that’s successful then they want to continue to do that. So I can understand why from a preparation perspective why they wanted to go.

“There’s then the perception issue. Is it right at this point of time that they followed through on that? There’s been a huge amount of commentary on that. Everyone has an opinion on that and I’m sure that’s something that Celtic are reconsidering in light of the events that happened.

“If you look at our under-21s, we have seen the difficulties that are involved when you are traveling abroad on planes and buses and dining plans at hotels. It adds a level of risk that it probably makes sense that clubs don’t give themselves at this point in time.

“So there are two separate sides to it. Were they allowed to go? Technically, under the rules, yes, they were. They were given permission to go. Should they have gone? As I’ve said, that’s something that everyone has an opinion on and I’m sure Celtic are asking themselves that very question.”

Meanwhile, Maxwell admitted that the Scotland squad had been wrong to celebrate their Euro 2020 play-off final victory over Serbia in November with a conga in their Belgrade hotel afterwards.

“We were fortunate that we won a game that meant a huge amount to the country and we were under UEFA’s jurisdiction at that time,” he said. “We did something that technically isn’t in line with the protocols, but it got three million views on social media and everyone loved it. It’s just the perception that is a big challenge around this one.

“We were fortunate we had negative tests when we were there and we had negative tests when we came back. But it’s not something with hindsight that we should be doing or encouraging.”