RANGERS manager Steven Gerrard has agreed that players who ignore strict Covid-19 protocols must face punishment if Scottish football is to avoid being shut down again.

The SFA and SPFL Joint Response Group introduced tough new measures this week after it emerged that eight Aberdeen players and one Celtic player had broken social distancing guidelines.

Jonny Hayes, Scott McKenna, Sam Cosgrove, Craig Bryson, Bruce Anderson, Dylan McGeouch, Matty Kennedy and Michael Devlin of Aberdeen and Boli Bolingoli-Mbombo of Celtic were yesterday charged by the SFA.

Elsewhere, the Pittodrie and Parkhead clubs are both facing SPFL disciplinary procedures for failing to adhere to coronavirus requirements and testing regulations.

Gerrard, whose team are on top of the Premiership after winning their opening three games, this week admitted he fears football in this country being suspended again if there are further breaches.

The former Liverpool and England captain believes that there should be serious repercussions if protocols aren’t followed given the ultimatum issued by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

“I think everyone has had more than enough warning now,” he said. “Of course players individually need to be punished because they are letting clubs down.

“That’s the way it should be. We all have had enough warning. It has been made clear to everyone, certainly here at Rangers, how we need to behave and what we need to do moving forward. That is to obey the guidelines and the rules.”

Meanwhile, Gerrard has urged his Rangers players not to get carried away with their positive start to the 2020/21 season ahead of a difficult trip to the Tony Macaroni Arena to play Livingston tomorrow.

“You will only invite trouble if you begin to look too far ahead of yourself,” he said. “The next challenge is three points against Livingston.

“Focus is a word we have used a lot, not just in pre-season, but during those months in lockdown too. The whole squad must retain its focus. We all know what we need to do and how we must do it.

“We can’t look at anyone else, we can’t think about anyone else. It’s about us and I’ve certainly seen that focus so far this season.

“But, again, it’s no use just retaining your focus for a handful of games, the challenge for us it to ensure we maintain over the course of 50 games or whatever.”

Gary Holt’s team have an impressive home record, but Gerrard is confident his side can pick up another three points on the artificial surface in West Lothian.

“I think we’ve won the last three at Livingston,” he said. “We have managed to rise to the challenge and compete very well. We know they like to get the ball up to Lyndon Dykes and we know they like to get runners off him.

“So we have to deal with that and we have to be switched on at throw-ins and corners because that’s where they’ll look to hurt us. They will try and load the box at set-pieces so we know what we’ve got to do.

“We’ve matched the physical challenge in the past and we’ll need to do so again. We will get opportunities to show our qualities and it’s then up to us to hurt them. There is no doubt we will need to be at our best.

“They have some good footballers and I think it’s unfair to say they are one-dimensional. But they’ve certainly got some big lads in there and they will look to cause us problems.

“They can go direct, of course they can with Dykes, so we have to deal with that and the environment as well.”