THE prospect of a possible eight-match ban for Boli Bolingoli is bad news for Celtic, but only in that it might make it harder to get shot of him.

As far as his Celtic career is concerned, the handing down of a season-long ban would likely make no odds, such are the slim chances of ever seeing him in the hoops again.

The Scottish Football Association have charged Bolingoli, along with the eight Aberdeen players who also breached Covid-19 protocols with bringing the game into disrepute, and there can rarely have been a more open and shut case in the history of Scottish football.

The punishment is likely to be at the harsher end of the scale, given the gravity of the offence involved and the current political climate, with Bolingoli in particular set to be made an example of.

The Celtic manager Neil Lennon is also keen to make an example of the player, particularly in light of the strong comments he made regarding the standards he was setting for his players’ behaviour before finding out about Boli’s jolly, by shipping Bolingoli out the door. But it’s unclear how potential suitors like French club Amiens, who are reportedly lining up a loan bid for the full-back, will react to him carrying a lengthy ban along with him. Still, he could have been carrying much worse, given his relaxed attitude to public health restrictions.

The charges against the players all seem fair enough. Aberdeen have commendably got out of the gate early by concluding their own internal investigation and hammering those involved, with chairman Dave Cormack saying his players “have been severely reprimanded and fined heavily” in a strongly worded statement released yesterday. The fines will be donated to NHS Grampian, in what is a worthy gesture and also a nice bit of PR for the club after the behaviour of their employees.

Protecting their own image and reputation should be something that both Aberdeen and Celtic should not have to do though, given the lengths that both clubs have gone to in educating their players on what was expected of them as Scottish football took its first tentative steps out of the coronavirus shutdown.

Any confusion around whether or not players should have been going to bars or jumping on planes abroad lies squarely with the individuals concerned, rather than the clubs they have let down.

That’s why it was something of a surprise to see the charge adjoined to the Joint Response Group statement yesterday from the Scottish Professional Football League, where the league’s governing body cited both Aberdeen and Celtic for ‘alleged breaches of the SPFL’s Covid-19 – Requirements and Testing Regulation.’

That seems incredibly harsh on the face of it, and it would be something of a surprise to see those charges followed with sanctions, given what is known about the lengths that both clubs have gone to during this crisis to keep their players safe, and educate them on how they can keep themselves safe too.

It is difficult to see what else the clubs could have done to prevent the conduct of their players in these cases, short of tagging their ankles or placing them under 24-hour supervision, and I would expect they will both be able to demonstrate this when their hearing takes place.

Perhaps the SPFL are simply presenting a public image of leaving no stone unturned, with Scottish football under huge scrutiny and pressure from the Scottish Government to get their house in order, under threat of shutting the sport down completely once again.

Such an outcome would of course be disastrous for all of our clubs, so it is perhaps a move designed more to project strength and highlight their diligence rather than an intent to punish clubs for something they could do very little about. Then again, given the spirit of the year, perhaps another almighty stramash surrounding the prospect of points deductions looms on the horizon.

The players will find out their fate on Friday, 28th August, when they will have their hearing at Hampden. Derek McInnes’s woes at his side’s stuttering start to the season will likely be exacerbated as all eight of his players - Jonny Hayes, Scott McKenna, Sam Cosgrove, Craig Bryson, Bruce Anderson, Dylan McGeouch, Matty Kennedy and Michael Devlin – are likely to be hit with mid-level punishments in the order of four games or so. So, when their campaign finally does get up and running, the Dons will be severely under strength.

For me, that is punishment enough for the club. The players, with punishment from their employer already handed down and punishment pending from the authorities, will have to take their medicine and be glad of it.

As for Bolingoli, the next time he steps onto a plane he will likely have a hefty ban in his designer suitcase. If his club are also sanctioned through his own stupidity, he would be wise not to book a return ticket.