Celtic is a football club and a business.
As a football club it has supporters, people who go to games, who spend big money on season tickets, people who want to watch their team.
As a business, Celtic has to make money.
It spends a lot – we have easily the biggest wage bill in the history of Scottish football – and to do that it has to constantly earn.
There are elements of every support who are selfish and full of their own importance; we’ve developed a peculiar, and unsettling, problem with some of ours and I’m not talking for one second about organised groups like The Green Brigade, who were exceptional last night, their behaviour exemplary, the support they gave the team first-rate.
No we have a handful of individual eejits, like the clown who decided to walk down a main street in Sunderland singing about Lee Rigby, or the guy who ran onto the pitch last night.
I won’t even try to guess what was in the mind of that utter goon.
His behaviour reached new levels of witlessness and dove into psychopathy.
He will never darken Celtic Park with his malign presence again … but on a day like this that doesn’t quite feel like enough.
Our club is going to pay a colossal price one day for the behaviour of people like this, and I think an example ought to be set that acts as a proper deterrent to others. Crucially, when we visited Belfast earlier in the campaign it was Linfield who fired the warning shot at their own neddish fans.
We ought to consider pulling the trigger ourselves.
In short, when that guy appears for his court-date Celtic should watch, wait for the verdict (let’s face it he was watched by tens of thousands at the game and there is undoubtedly TV footage somewhere, the verdict is a foregone conclusion) and then immediately file a civil action claim against him for whatever the fine plus other penalties costs us.
These people shouldn’t be allowed to do this, to blacken our name, and continue getting away with it.
The idiot at Sunderland didn’t do it in a manner that cost us money, but this guy from last night will, and has, and heaps trouble on top of us.
How much will the club lose?
In fines, probably around £40,000.
But it’s not fines that are the problem here.
Put on top of that the costs of increased stewarding … not insubstantial.
And that pales into insignificant if UEFA shuts a stand – not unthinkable – and suddenly that £40,000 becomes hundreds of thousands if not near the £1 million mark. And not only does the business suffer, but every supporter who sits in that stand will be disenfranchised.
There’s no point in soft-soaping with these people … they deserve the harshest penalties our club can muster, above and beyond the inevitable lifetime ban. That means hitting them where it really hurts. We don’t need to bankrupt people … although I tell you, not a single fellow Celtic fan would complain this morning if we did.
But we do need to send a message, one that stamps this stupidity out.
Set that one example, Celtic, for the sake of the rest of us and the club itself.
Hit this guy in the pocket and hard, and we’ll never have to deal with these problems again.