Steven Gerrard has confirmed five players have been removed from the Rangers squad after breaching coronavirus rules, with the club in contact with the Scottish FA and Scottish Government over the incident.
The five players to break the rules have been confirmed as Bongani Zungu, Nathan Patterson, Calvin Bassey, Dapo Mebude (on loan at Queen of the South) and goalkeeper Brian Kinnear.
Some media outlets reported the five players attended a house party that was broken up by police.
Ahead of the first leg of the Europa League last-32 tie against Royal Antwerp in Belgium on Thursday, Gerrard told Rangers TV: “Bongani Zungu is involved, Nathan Patterson, Calvin Bassey, Dapo Mebude, who is obviously part of the academy on loan at Queen of the South, and Brian Kinnear, a young goalie who is an academy player who has spent some time around the first team as well.
“First and foremost we have to acknowledge that five of our players have been involved in a breach of Covid regulations which from the top of the club to the bottom we are all really disappointed in. That will be dealt with internally.
“The players will be fined and we are in dialogue with the SFA and the government to find a solution moving forward in terms of them boys.
“They have been removed from the club and the squad for now on a short-time basis while they isolate. I will sit down with them face to face when we are allowed to do so.”
Gerrard added: “We will certainly move forward from it. We are at a real critical stage in terms of the games coming up and where we are as a club.
“It won’t affect us as a group. I’ve been absolutely delighted with the group in terms of their application.
“I feel personally let down by recent events but I am trying to move forward and focus on the important things which is to prepare the team for a huge game against Antwerp. I’m really excited and look forward to the game.”
Speaking on Monday, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon expressed her frustration at footballers breaching lockdown rules following several previous incidents.
Sturgeon – who was not speaking specifically about the most recent incident at Rangers – said: “Sometimes I feel it’s taking all my power not to stand here and use expletives whenever I get asked about football.
“I don’t care what club it is that’s breached the rules – if you’re breaching the rules, you’re in the wrong. It’s really frustrating and it’s really unfair for the vast majority of people in the country who don’t have the privileges that elite sportspeople have right now.
“Therefore, when they see elite sportspeople breach these rules – let’s be frank, the vast majority are not – but when a small number do, then people think ‘why am I bothering?’
“Can I say to football and sport generally: please, make sure your house is in order. It shouldn’t take me standing here to say to highly-paid footballers that you’ve got to obey the rules, but the fact that it does is hugely frustrating to me.
“I don’t care whether it’s Celtic, Rangers or any other club – it’s not on, so please stop breaking the rules.”
Scotland remains under tight restrictions to help curb the spread of Covid-19, with no indoor mixing of households allowed under normal circumstances.
Rangers’ most recent breach comes two months after Jordan Jones and George Edmundson were handed two-week club suspensions for breaching coronavirus protocols by attending an illegal house party.
Northern Ireland winger Jones and defender Edmundson were subsequently handed seven-match bans by the Scottish Football Association and left the club in January.
Meanwhile at Celtic, defender Boli Bolingoli broke Covid-19 rules in August last year when he travelled to Spain without telling his club and went on to play against Kilmarnock when he should have been in quarantine.
In January, Celtic also confirmed Christopher Jullien tested positive for coronavirus following a controversial squad trip to Dubai for a training camp – resulting in Neil Lennon and 13 further first-team players being required to self-isolate.