Earlier this month I wrote a piece that said Celtic fans should be wary that in fighting monsters we don’t turn into them. I would go further today, as suggestions bubble up everywhere that we should pull out of the Scottish Cup in protest against referees. In fighting idiots, we should be careful not to turn into those as well.
I cannot say enough times how dumb this suggestion is. And the thing is, some of those making it are rational, intelligent people. Others should be in a locked ward. It’s the smarter ones that need to be confronted with just how insane this sounds.
I was in political activism a while, and still keep one eye on the game at all times. I’ve always thought of our conflict with the SFA as essentially a political war, and in such a fight you choose your battles carefully and you try to play every advantage you have.
And I have to be honest, in that context I’ve looked at this issue a thousand times in the past.
There’s nothing to be gained from it, and that’s the simple truth of it.
We are the holders of all three of the major trophies in this country. To lose one of them in an actual game will be hard enough to take when it happens, as it one day will. To voluntarily hand one of them over to another club by not competing … ridiculous. I would be furious if it ever happened, if we ever did what teams do in England and fielded entirely weakened teams for cup competitions. I want to see my club win things. I want them to win everything.
On top of that, think of the lift it would give a certain other club if they were the beneficiaries of such an act of lunacy. If an Ibrox club captain was photographed holding aloft a trophy we had decided not to contest, we would be handing them a huge boost.
And for what? To register a protest.
Believe me, that’s exactly all it would be. It would be a toothless gesture, one that weakened us like a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Sponsors would not, as some surmise, run for the hills. The SFA would not be forced into retreat. The football world would not stop spinning on its axis as everyone suddenly looked at our little banana republic here and said “Oh wait a minute …”
If sponsors were concerned at all, they might well decide that we were to blame and not the SFA. Broadcasters would blame us if revenues fell. There’s probably a case for saying that we could be sued for failing to fulfil our commercial obligations to them.
The media here would turn the flamethrowers up to full. How they covered it would depend on which newspaper you were talking about, but none would congratulate us on a brilliant tactical move. All would sneer at it. The over-riding emotion amongst the commentariat would be bafflement. The rest would just be falling about laughing.
Most of our support would be incensed. The rest would have one day of momentary satisfaction, which would soon come crashing down when they realised the rest of Scottish football was carrying on as before and the rest of world football simply didn’t care at all.
Those who think the Scottish Cup would be fatally devalued by the move haven’t thought it through. Is the cup devalued if we crash out in the Third Round? Of course not. Every other club in the competition takes a lift from that, and starts thinking their name might be on the trophy.
That’s all this would accomplish; it would guarantee someone else’s name would be.
There is a Scottish Cup strategy that would pay dividends, and that would be for a supporter boycott of Hampden, something that hit the SFA where it really hurts … in the pocket. And there are other moves, like campaigns directed against those commercial sponsors who some see as propping up a system which is well past due for an overhaul.
A campaign focussed on that sort of stuff would be worthy of support, because it is focussed, targeted and has some chance of success. Only one institution would be harmed by Celtic boycotting the Scottish Cup; the one we all love.
Let’s put this one in the meat-grinder and have done with it once and for all.
There are better ways to get our point across.
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