Dundee manager James McPake accused the Scottish Professional Football League of risking players’ families after rejecting a late request to postpone their trip to Aberdeen.
McPake lost six players on Boxing Day morning to leave him with only 11 outfield players, including cinch Premiership debutant Corey Panter and Alex Jakubiak, who made his first start since suffering a shoulder injury in September.
Dundee named four players on the bench at Pittodrie – goalkeepers Harry Sharp and Ian Lawlor, 17-year-old Callum Lamb and 40-year-old assistant manager Dave Mackay.
Leigh Griffiths gave Dundee the lead with a long-range free-kick before the Dons hit back to win 2-1 but McPake claimed there could be other consequences of the SPFL’s decision to reject the postponement request.
“I felt that it’s a bad decision and I hope there’s no backlash in terms of players going back to their families,” McPake said.
“I felt for (St Mirren manager) Jim Goodwin through the week, and Dundee United had to go to Ibrox with a much different side from normal.
“It wasn’t about the game. It’s a complete and utter lack of care for the individuals who have to go home to their families. For me, it’s lacking class.”
Dundee had earlier confirmed a request had been submitted after daily tests revealed a positive case plus five close contacts in the squad.
“With these players missing and our current injury situation, we took the decision to request a postponement of today’s fixture against Aberdeen,” a club statement added.
“The postponement request has been rejected by the SPFL and we travel with a squad of 14 players which includes three goalkeepers.
“A further member of the first-team coaching staff is also isolating.”
Celtic had severe selection issues as they beat St Johnstone 3-1 in front of a reduced-capacity crowd in Perth as new restrictions limiting attendances to 500 kicked in.
Celtic did not immediately give a reason for a number of new absences as the likes of Scott Bain, Callum McGregor, Anthony Ralston and Greg Taylor dropped out of their squad to leave Ange Postecoglou without more than a full team of players.
Saints manager Callum Davidson reported losing another player to Covid issues before the game as he welcomed back Chris Kane, one of four players who was missing for the same reason in midweek.
A dozen or so Celtic fans tried to watch the game from a hill above McDiarmid Park ,while at least one climbed a tree to get a better vantage point.
Celtic manager Postecoglou rejected suggestions the winter break had come at the right time for his depleted squad after it was brought forward following the limits on fans, which are in place for up to three weeks.
Postecoglou told Sky Sports: “The break has come at the right time because I don’t like playing in empty stadiums, mate. I don’t know why people confuse the two.
“We don’t want to keep playing, not because of any other reason, but if anyone in here enjoyed today’s game then, I’m sorry, they understand a different football game to what I do.
“I like supporters here, I don’t care if they are all away supporters. That’s what the game is about.
“So I am glad we stopped it. There is no guarantee they will be back when it resumes but at least we give them a chance.
“I don’t now why people would want to dismiss the effect supporters have on our game. I assume everyone wants to play in front of packed houses, otherwise we may as well just play in our back yards.”
Dundee United were missing 14 players through coronavirus issues plus injury, suspension and a family matter as they lost 3-1 against Hibernian.
St Mirren had previously failed with a postponement request for their Boxing Day trip to Ibrox, which they lost 2-0, before reluctantly playing against Celtic on Wednesday with a weakened team.
Championship games between Inverness and Partick Thistle plus Morton and Queen of the South, as well as the League One encounter between Queen’s Park and Dumbarton, had earlier been postponed because of outbreaks.