Lawwell’s Interview Today Was A PR Masterpiece. What A Way To Rub Salt Into A Wound.

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I criticise Peter Lawwell a lot on this website. An awful lot. I consider him overpaid for the job he does, and a man who’s way too involved in the football side of our club than a CEO should be. Yet I recognise that he’s done a lot of good at Celtic Park.

I recognise that he’s an excellent ambassador for our club, with his professionalism and good character.

On top of that, the man knows public relations. He knows how the media machine works. He’s clearly experienced, and well educated, but to have such a fine grasp on it is a gift that can’t be taught to you. It’s instinctive. You either have it or you don’t. He’s a master at it now, and whether he’s polished his skill over the years or if he’s just absurdly gifted at it doesn’t really matter … that skill has served us well on many occasions.

Today’s intervention on Barton is a masterpiece, and I’ll tell you why.

First let’s be clear that he was shooting into an open goal.

That doesn’t detract from the coolness of the finish, but this one was wide open and begging for him to stick the ball in there. Yet he deserves no less credit for it, because it was a split second opening and the shot had to be taken at once. With the coolness of a Scott Sinclair finish he’s put it in the net and can now cartwheel towards the applause.

It was Barton himself who opened up that space by giving such an arrogant and reckless interview to The Guardian, where he made a complete fool of himself and stuck in the claim that Celtic had tried to sign him. A lot of CEO’s would have ignored that. It’s an absurd idea and one nobody really believed, but it would have been the headline had Lawwell not nipped in, with perfect timing, to correct the record.

Even so, did the record need correcting?

I mean, who cares when all is said and done? If we did try to sign him it’s a lesson learned and we’re glad it didn’t come off; better that this shambles unfold across town. The very claim is self-defeating and stupid when it comes from a player mired deep in a personal crisis of his own manufacture.

Lawwell didn’t straighten this out for the sake of the truth.

He did it to make mischief, and it’s really that simple.

He spotted a chance to dump another heap of shit onto Barton’s head and sicken everyone at Ibrox in good order. This is what Peter Lawwell does when such an opportunity presents itself. He’s been consistent on this one. He never misses.

Barton’s biggest two mistakes since arriving in Scotland were slagging off Brown and trying this stupid claim out for size. On the park he was mastered by our captain. He was owned. From that first minute when he couldn’t even look him in the eye to the press conference afterwards where Scott got the last word and put him in his place … it was a walk in the park.

But Lawwell’s class in the media sphere puts even Brown to shame.

I’ve heard Barton talking to journalists before; I think they view him as a colourful character and tend to let him away with talking any crap that pops into his head. Hey, he’s good for ratings right? They never feel much need to delve into the veracity of his remarks. It’s usually unimportant.

But this was significant, and in making this claim he set himself up beautifully and Pistol Pete was never going to miss once he saw a chance to take his shot. He knew that not only was Barton’s claim palpably false but that the truth would generate headlines of its own, and he knew something else too; he knew that Celtic’s story was a lot more believable than Barton’s.

He’ll have known Barton was a self-styled Celtic supporter.

He’ll have known or heard about all those historic tweets about Republicanism and stuff.

He knew that the lure of the Champions League, of playing in front of the Celtic fans, would have been irresistible.

He knew Celtic could offer more money.

He knew Barton’s history and comments didn’t fit in with the ethos at Ibrox, and he’ll have reasoned that the player’s sudden embrace of all that was as fake as powdered egg.

Who cares whether Jailbird Joey really has fallen into all that religious supremacy stuff, after a lifetime of having scorned it? The Celtic version just looks and sounds and feels better, with more weight, with more substance.

On top of that, Lawwell will have known how this will reverberate around Ibrox.

The supporters are already going ballistic; even those who don’t want to believe it kind of do. As far as they are concerned the bridges are well and truly burned and with all that’s going on, and with this on top, they want shot of the player as quickly as possible.

And that’s where the real genius lies in Lawwell’s intervention, because he’ll have tossed that grenade into their front room knowing one other thing on top of all I’ve said already.

He’ll have known that Barton is stuck with Sevco and Sevco is stuck with Barton into the immediate future.

He’s not walking out of the last lucrative contract he’ll ever get in his career and they don’t have the cast-iron reason that would let them terminate it without having to go through a messy and lengthy legal dispute with the PFA which they would almost certainly lose.

Because what’s Barton actually done here?

He’s had an argument with the manager in the dressing room. That doesn’t allow a club to sack someone, as Lawwell will know. He’s talked to the media. But Barton was signed as a part player, part media personality and the club was more than happy to let him get on with it as long as it was our captain he was slating and our manager he was having a laugh at. Mark Warburton is on record – on tape and in print – as having said he has no issue with the player tweeting or talking to journalists and stating his views. Sevco now has to stand on those remarks, so sacking Barton for that is another non-starter.

The manager is stuck with him. The player will be back in training soon enough, and that will clearly not be harmonious for either party. It will unbalance the club and cause resentment, disharmony, suspicion and fear … it’s perfect.

Lawwell has taken an easy shot knowing he’ll hit the bullseye and knowing it’ll cause another wave of disruption for a manager and a club which needed this kind of chaos like General Custer needed Crazy Horse’s north-eastern charge.

Their club is in meltdown … and Lawwell’s turned the heating up.

Masterful stuff.

There are times I really like this guy, I gotta admit it.

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