Connah’s Quay Nomads ‘turned blind eye’ to ill players


Former Manchester City captain Andy Morrison guided Nomads to the 2019-20 Cymru Premier titleManager Andy Morrison says Connah’s Quay Nomads “had to turn a blind eye” to players who turned up feeling unwell for their Europa League qualifying defeat by Dinamo Tbilisi.

The game went ahead despite three players having tested positive for Covid-19 beforehand.

The trio and a fourth player, who had not had a positive test at that stage, are in self-isolation.

“Three lads have turned up tonight and they’re not well,” said Morrison.

“And it’s like ‘lads, I don’t want to hear it. I can’t hear it tonight that you’re ill… let’s just get through it’.

“I’ve been told that before the game and we’ve had to turn a blind eye to it and then you would have never noticed that anyone there tonight wasn’t feeling great.”

The Football Association of Wales (FAW) says it is satisfied its Covid-19 protocols were followed in order for the game to go ahead.

However, based on Morrison’s post-match comments, the FAW is investigating whether a breach took place.

The association is also looking at whether what Morrison said brought Welsh football into disrepute.

“The FAW is satisfied that the comments contradict the confirmed compliance with the Covid-19 protocols and whilst the club may decide to take internal actions, the FAW is currently investigating whether a breach of the guidelines has taken place and whether the comments constitute a breach of FAW Rules for bringing the association into disrepute,” the FAW said.

Three players had been confirmed as having tested positive for coronavirus before the second-round qualifying game, but Morrison later said it was four.

Nomads lost 1-0 to a late Giorgi Gabedava penalty at Wrexham’s Racecourse on Thursday.

Connah’s Quay have denied “turning a blind eye” to coronavirus regulations and insist Morrison’s comments have been “misconstrued”.

“In a post-match interview with various media outlets, manager Andy Morrison used the term ‘turned a blind eye’ which has unfortunately been misconstrued by many to mean that as a club we ignored Covid regulations,” they wrote.

“We would like to go on record and say that this is categorically untrue and that what the manager was referring to was a number of players who may not have played had we had a fully fit squad.

“Morrison clarified this in a tweet on his own personal Twitter account, indicating that a number of players had suffered from isolated pre-match upset stomach and headaches likely down to nerves due to being thrust into the starting line-up.”

Both headache and diarrhoea are listed by the World Health Organisation external-linkas Covid-19 symptoms.

Uefa, European football’s governing body, states in its coronavirus return to play protocol documentexternal-link: “Anyone involved in a match who develops any symptoms indicative of a potential Covid-19 infection must immediately isolate themselves at their hotel and must contact the relevant local health authorities for guidance.”

Uefa say they will not be commenting specifically on this particular case.

Wrexham have issued a statement saying they received a message from “medical representatives of Connah’s Quay Nomads” confirming they had adhered to all protocols.

The National League club said Connah’s Quay completed medical screening and temperature checks on their own players as they arrived for the game.

“From the results disclosed to us, no player showed a temperature or answered that they displayed any symptoms,” Wrexham’s statement said.

Welsh Government First Minister Mark Drakeford said the FAW is going to investigate Morrison’s comments and was “going to establish the facts”, while North Wales Police say they are supporting a Public Health Wales investigation into what happened.

“North Wales Police are aware of the public concern around the Connah’s Quay Nomads football match played yesterday in Wrexham,” a statement said.

“We have been working closely with partners in the local authority, the Football Association of Wales and Public Health Wales to ensure the matter in fully investigated and appropriate action is taken to maintain and secure public safety.

“Our colleagues in Public Health Wales will lead this work and NWP will continue to support them in any way we can.”

Speaking on BBC Radio Wales Breakfast, Welsh Conservatives Shadow Health Minister Andrew RT Davies called for “drastic” action if the comments were correct.

“You are left pretty dumbfounded to be honest with you that when those symptoms are showing, that a match went ahead where there is considerable personal interaction just by the very nature of playing football,” said the Senedd member for South Wales Central.

“Obviously I’d have to wait to find out more information, but if the manager’s comments are correct then something drastic needs to happen here to make sure that safeguards are put in place that you can’t overrule the obvious symptoms and just play a match that could potentially spread to the wider community the virus effects.”

Connah’s Quay’s Cymru Premier fixture against Penybont on Sunday will go ahead as planned at the Deeside Stadium.

Wrexham say all areas of the Racecourse will be deep cleaned before their players return to the stadium next week.

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