By David Williams
Connah’s Quay Nomads have moved to clarify manager Andy Morrison’s comments following their Europa League defeat by Dinamo Tbilisi, saying they were misconstrued.
Morrison said after the 1-0 defeat at the Racecourse Ground in Wrexham that he had turned a ‘blind eye’ to players complaining of feeling unwell before the game.
But the club insist this had nothing to do with the fact that three of their players tested positive for Covid-19 before the game and were self-isolating – but was due to players feeling the nerves of a Europa League clash.
A club statement said: “Ahead of kick off, it was public knowledge that we had received three positive Covid tests with one additional player showing symptoms with all four being immediately self-isolated.
“On Thursday, our backroom staff worked diligently alongside Public Health Wales, FAW and UEFA to ensure that the fixture would go ahead with all three governing bodies acknowledging that the club had followed all required protocol.
“This included all of our available matchday squad and staff completing the industry recognised Benchmark54 App before midday of the game which asks an 11 question questionnaire regarding health and Covid symptoms – all of these came back negative. Additionally, everyone was temperature checked upon arrival at the stadium.
“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.
“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 lineup of such a high profile fixture.”
In an interview after the game, Morrison said: “Three lads have turned up tonight and they’re not well.
“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 Nomads were agonisingly defeated 1-0 in the second round qualifying clash after a 97th minute penalty from Giorgi Gabedava sealed the win for the visitors.
We definitely deserved extra-time,” added Morrison.”I just think the circumstances caught up on us in the end.
“They’ve made three substitutions, we had to make one that was forced with Jamie Insall, who was our main threat, having to come off.
“That probably gave them a little bit of impetus in that last 20 minutes, we haven’t been able to do that and that is circumstances, and it is a hard luck story.
“Football is very cruel and it is a hard one to take for us. It is going to be hard to swallow that for a while because the boys gave everything.
“You are talking about a top team there and they could barely get a shot on goal; tactically without the ball we were absolutely incredible, completely stifling a team and allowing them to run out of ideas, and still causing a threat the other way.
“It is a really tough one to take.”
Before the game, Connah’s Quay Nomads said they had consulted Public Health Wales, UEFA and the Football Association of Wales before being given the green light for the tie to go ahead.
— Connah’s Quay Nomads FC (@the_nomads) September 17, 2020
They issued a statement which read: “Throughout our return to play, we have adhered to all of the regulations and recommendations put in place by both the FAW and UEFA.
“The health and safety of our staff and players is our absolute priority at all times and every single decision and action that we have taken reflects this.
“As a result of the positive tests, all affected players have been put into self-isolation with immediate effect.
“Following communications with Public Health Wales, Uefa and the Football Association of Wales today [Wednesday], we have followed all of the steps in the Return to Play protocol and every recommendation made to the club throughout each phase of our return to competitive football.
“By diligently following the advice of the relevant authorities and putting extensive measures in place, we’ve been given the go-ahead to continue with hosting the game at the Racecourse.”