It is possible to be both surprised by something and yet not in the least bit surprised.
I know this because I feel that way this afternoon, having heard that Celtic and Brown are being charged by the SFA.
It surprises me because our conduct was exemplary. It doesn’t surprise me because this, after all, is the SFA and anything goes where they are concerned.
But there is a difference between being cited and being disciplined, a distinction which I am sure that Celtic intends to highlight. I have no doubt that our club will oppose this decision with vigour; after all, it is a disgraceful one for which there is no justification at all.
Let’s start with Brown. The ground has been covered so many times already it has a thousand and one boot prints on it. Only a handful in the media have talked sense about it. To my mind, he’s being charged only because Gerrard chose to whine about him in the after-match press conferences and because some in the Scottish media likes to paint our captain as some kind of thug who has a Get Out of Jail Free card, against all the evidence.
In short, he’s being cited because some people wanted it that way.
Yet, in order to discipline him the SFA is going to have demonstrate that he did something markedly different from what other players do week in week out. As I’ve pointed out, the so-called incident barely lasted a minute before the Ibrox players were flocking towards him with ill intent, Halliday in the vanguard. What did Brown do in that time?
He was not formally cautioned on the day. I’m willing to bet that nothing was mentioned in the ref’s report or those of the other officials. So on what basis, exactly, has the complaint been made? What is the exact charge? The SFA published version says it’s for failing to “act in the best interests of association football’.”
Whatever the Hell that means.
You could level that charge at half the SFA executive over the way they do business.
Scott Brown did not leave the field. He did not goad the handful of Ibrox fans. He did not use gestures or shout anything inflammatory. So what did he do, except be the captain of a winning team whose victory has gotten up a lot of people’s noses?
If that’s worth citing someone over, then the game here really is run by halfwits and jokers, and it will be a flat-out travesty if it gets somebody banned.
The charge against Celtic for failing to control their players is equally farcical. Our players defended themselves against aggressive behaviour from those of the other club. What were they supposed to do? Stand there and let Halliday and others rag-doll them all over the pitch? It is an idiotic thing to seek to discipline us for, it really is.
We know which side completely lost the plot on the day; the one that ended the game with two red cards and was very lucky that it wasn’t three. This is not the first time that an explosion of petulance and frustration amongst players from Ibrox ended with both them and Parkhead’s people in the dock; Lennon was in charge then too, and the perverse verdict where only he was found guilty sparked Paul McBride’s famous accusation that the SFA was corrupt.
This will be on a similar order of scandalous should they return a verdict against us. Yes, any fine would be miniscule but that’s not the damned point is it? Our so-called guests behaved like gate-crashers at a house party, attacking our friends, wrecking the kitchen and pissing up the living curtains for good measure before they left.
Why exactly is that our fault?
Gerrard has been cited too, for comments he made to the referee after the game. But he made excuses for the thuggery of his players, and said he’d have acted the same way. Where is the charge for those comments, which clearly bring into disrepute?
Honestly, Celtic’s legal team will eat these people alive. I said when I heard that Brown may be sanctioned that our attitude should be “bring it on.” Well, it’s on. We have to make them wish they’d never bothered to bring it.
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