Today’s announcement by the SPFL is actually not as bad as I had expected.
I believed that both sides in this were gearing up to offer a review – eventually – which would prove to be so compromised it would be a waste of everyone’s time. This, in many ways, is better than that, because that approach would have been easier to sell as a “solution” than the stonewalling strategy which they are going with at the moment.
The stonewalling strategy is doomed.
There’s no point to it.
It slaps a Band-Aid on top of a gaping wound, which everyone involved somehow hopes will heal.
But no-one involved here is stupid enough to believe that it will.
This is like a perverse game of pass the parcel, in which the parcel is a live bomb.
Watching them toss it from one to the other is comically amusing on one hand; it makes the governing bodies look like banana republic bureaucracies, comprised of small men grubbing for their own positions as everything around them goes to Hell.
But on the other hand, it’s disturbing to watch this utter spinelessness.
It makes you despair for the future of the game here.
The SPFL is well within its rights to demand a judicial review of SFA procedures.
Celtic, as a member club, is well within its rights.
Both Celtic and the SPFL could take this issue to UEFA.
Celtic still might.
But the SPFL is at it.
Any investigation worth a damn would be into the conduct of the SFA itself; not only is it not necessary for the SFA to play a part in that review, it’s not even desirable. They are the target of the investigation. They can’t be involved in running it.
That’s why this is actually a better outcome than one where the two organisations put their heads together and put forward some slap-bang put up job which was designed only to cover their own backsides. Perhaps Neil Doncaster has learned something after all; the SPFL statement today seems to be saying “blame them, not us” which suggests a split which Celtic should be ready to exploit in full when the time comes.
But it still looks pitiful and cowardly, and it still leaves us holding the bag.
I know there are fan organisations putting plans in place.
I wish those guys well, and would offer my support to any such scheme and urge you all to do the same … but it will be disgraceful if fans are the only people putting their hearts and souls into this. A supporter led judicial review shames every single club which has been content to watch from the side-lines. If they simply sit back and let supporters take the lead they will look like cowards at best, and at worst actively corrupt.
This is a crisis point; there’s just no other way to put it.
The SFA is refusing a request from the organisation which represents the professional clubs.
They are ignoring the wishes of those clubs and thousands of fans.
The SPFL’s assertion that it now has no influence over events is palpably false, but it is a convenient cover behind which they can drop all of this and do the sum total of nil.
We’ve been left, as I said in an earlier piece, twisting in the wind.
Not a single club but Celtic has publicly called for an inquiry; I no longer care which clubs support that and which don’t. There’s enough blame here to go round and if you’re not part of the solution you are most definitely part of the problem.
I’ve heard a lot of talk about clubs not wanting to risk taking a stand because they are worried about the possibility of a Sevco fan boycott.
I think that excuse is weak, or it supposes that Celtic fans are.
Because it pays no heed to the possibility that our supporters might not want to attend the grounds of teams who have left our own club looking isolated here.
That’s a matter of conscience for individual Celtic supporters … but they need to ask themselves just how much longer they are willing to be treated this way. If you are going to away games you are doing our club no favours, no matter what you might tell yourself. You are putting money in the pockets of the people who are supporting this corruption; it’s as simple as that. And as long as you do they have no reason to respect us.
It says a lot to me that they are more worried about concerted action from Sevco supporters, who let their own team die, than they are about the fans who once boycotted their own club to save it. That’s either damning of us, and of how reliably “loyal” and tame Celtic fans have become, or it’s the grossest miscalculation of all time.
Either way, they believe it for now and that’s part of what led us here.
Celtic still has options, and to be blunt they have to pursue them or hold up their hands and concede defeat in a do-or-die fight, an act which would infuriate many in our own ranks who would rightly see it as an epochal humiliation. It would also send a clear message to the SFA and those within the walls at Ibrox who helped bring this about; you can cheat and lie and mismanage things and there is nothing meaningful that anyone can do about it.
And that simply won’t stand.
We’d be setting the scene for the next crisis.
I still don’t think it’ll come to that; this position is untenable. Having exhausted every avenue within the domestic game, Celtic now has the right to take this matter outside of Scottish football’s incestuous little circle. That’s exactly what we should do.
People inside and outside Parkhead have big decisions to make, and this cannot be left in the hands of a handful of fans.
If clubs don’t care about justice then no judicial review, no matter how successful, will ever get to the heart of what’s really wrong with the game in Scotland; that so many people – directors, chairmen, media, fans – would rather live in shit than get busy with a shovel.
That’s a problem for which there is no solution.
It leaves Scottish football a basket case, a corrupt backwater run by frightened little men, supported by fans and sponsors who can suspend disbelief and pretend they’re not watching a rigged game … for a while at least.
But in the long term it kills our game because it offers no hope of reform far less redemption.