Ever since Peter Lawwell and Celtic used the words “sporting integrity” in 2012 there are people who have been desperate to use it against us, and they have tried to at every turn. They will stop at nothing. They will twist logic, deny reality and bend truth into whatever shape they think they can get away with. Much of it is pathetic.
As difficult as this is for some of them to understand, the real world doesn’t run based on their whims and their childish snarking.
What galls many of them is that we refuse to live in their anarchic fantasy world.
As I’ve often said, I have no problem with people who believe in fairies at the bottom of their gardens.
But I refuse to stop cutting my grass in case it annoys said fictional creatures.
On top of that, those who live in fantasy are ever wary of dragons, and this is never more so than in the case of the Sevconuts who see conspiracies everywhere. I understand it. If you’re willing to take a punt on magic beanstalk beans you’re already halfway to believing that anything is possible.
Their mass neurosis is extraordinary, but I understand that too as parts of the media and those running their club have helped fuel it down through the years.
That this has never done them one iota of good, that in fact it has hampered them at every turn and caused them more grief than they would otherwise have had, appears not to have penetrated the layers of their thinking. More fool them.
Most of the Celtic sites eschew that stuff for reality. In reality there are rules and regulations, but even with them life sometimes seems as if it is not terribly fair. In reality actions have consequences. In reality facts dominate outcomes.
Let’s go back a while for a sterling example of what I’m talking about.
Back in 2012, when Rangers was in the early stages of administration, a selection of snake-oil salesmen in the media and on the periphery of their club was busily briefing to all and sundry that HRMC would be amendable to some kind of deal. The “logic” was that they would prefer to get pennies in the pound than the inevitable nothing if the club was sent to the wall. This view was so prevalent that it went almost completely unchallenged.
Except on the Celtic sites, where we wrote over and over and over again that HMRC would never do that, that they would prefer a corpse to hang up on the castle walls as a warning to others, that their policy was never to negotiate settlements with organisations that had been engaged in the wilful withholding of revenues payable.
Their fans and others chose to believe in the fantasy, and when it didn’t come to fruition they convinced themselves that some crime had been committed against them. It was the same with the new club scenario; any new club wanting to play football in Scotland starts in the bottom tier.
It is a fact. It was in the regulations. All that happened was that clubs voted to follow the rules as they were written down.
Again, it’s what we said would happen.
This is a similar scenario. Temper tantrums will not change it. Indulging the whims of the Ibrox lunatic fringe in feeding their hope that it can, or should, go some other way will not change it. Reality is here, in a horrific form. None of us wants it this way, but we deal in reality here and we have to face up to this on that basis.
So let’s talk reality. Let’s leave aside all emotion and put this in simple terms.
We are in an unprecedented situation here.
We are faced with a crisis of global dimensions, one that is going to test our civil and political institutions to the fullest.
There are bigger things to worry about than football, but football is what we talk about here, football is the focus of this blog and because it plays such a central role in our lives it is important that we hang on tight to it as this thing continues to spread. If we’re debating the big issues here we are not spending our time brooding on dark and awful scenarios.
I think that’s important. I think it is vital.
I make no apology whatsoever for concentrating on the sport at a time like this. What else are we to do? We are all putting things on hold whilst this rumbles on; are we to simply lay everything aside and embrace the horror? That’s not what the great mass of humanity does. Even when this country was ravaged by the Blitz people were finding their pleasures and enjoyments where they could, and life carried on, albeit with some restrictions.
Football is on pause. Barring a major development in the coronavirus story – the kind of stuff that is reserved for fairytales; a miracle cure, in short – this is going to drag on for many, many months. The world as we know is going to be completely up-ended for a while, and perhaps even a long while.
This, my friends, is what you will remember 2020 for.
Dealing with reality, it’s pretty evident that any talk of playing these eight games somewhere down the line is fanciful at best. The information we have to hand, from scientists and epidemiologists, is that this thing won’t even peak for 10-14 weeks … the suggestion that we can simply pick this season up in the midst of that is lunacy. It will not happen.
Season 2019-20 is over with. Two choices are open to the governing bodies, one which is covered by the rulebook, it is clean and efficient and gives everyone closure. It allows clubs to claim on their insurance and collect their prize money. This is a no brainer.
The other choice is to pretend none of it happened. To write off a domestic league campaign lasting six months, to void hundreds of games, to disenfranchise fans, sponsors, clubs, players, TV companies and to make the whole concept of merit in sport into a joke.
Those in the media who are demanding that the season be completed are not arguing for anything that everyone at Celtic does not want to see happen. In a perfect world – a fantasy one – we would be able to complete this campaign. Celtic is not lobbying anyone so that we can “steal” a trophy; we are miles clear in the lead. That trophy is ours.
But as I will repeat over and over again, there is no scenario that I can realistically envision where football will be played in the 2019-20 campaign in Scotland. Even if clubs vote to delay, and take the hit that goes with it, we will creep, inexorably, horribly, towards the inevitable moment where all hope of that outcome is abandoned completely.
Anyone still making that case is either not following events closely or they are being deliberately dishonest in support of a narrative that for the title to “count” that the 38 game campaign has to be completed. I’m not sure anyone really believes this, but a lot of them are pushing it regardless.
It is so fundamentally corrupt it takes your breath away.
Imagine we stick to the “logic” of this position, and assume that the 38 game regulation is inflexible; what happens if a club collapses mid-season? Which is not exactly out-with the realms of possibility in the Scottish game. Do we abandon the league campaign?
Of course we wouldn’t. We’d play on and the league season would be between 34 and 37 games instead.
These people know this, and the giveaway is that they dare to argue their case for voiding the season on “sporting integrity” grounds. It’s neat the way they’ve framed their argument about this around Hearts; that, too, is dishonest. Most of them don’t care about Hearts.
Their agenda is all about one club in particular and it’s not the Tynecastle one.
Voiding the season doesn’t disenfranchise one club; it disenfranchises all of them.
They will cry fake tears over the possibility of Hearts going down but they don’t care about our rights, or those of Dundee Utd or the other clubs sitting poised to win titles, or get promoted or to secure their prize money for the campaigns they’ve had.
To say “there are eight games left and you just don’t know …” cannot be a more valid argument than “there have been thirty matches already, where the outcomes are known, but we’ll pretend they never happened.”
Why is the sporting integrity argument being used to defend hypothetical scenarios when actual results are available for us to take our lead from instead?
As Paul67 over on CQN has said, there are unscrupulous individuals and clubs in Scotland for whom this moment, this grave moment, represents nothing more than a cynical opportunity. They ought to be ashamed. The media is pandering to this element of our society, and many within its ranks are still stuck in the 2012 time-warp wherein Rangers were the victims and cannot wait to start settling scores as they see it.
Do not let these Peepul fool you with talk of sporting integrity.
They wouldn’t be able to spell it had so many of us not written it.
They’ve never cared about it and they never will.
They want us to focus on mythical comebacks rather than look at the reality of the results we have already in.
They know this – the brazen exploitation of a global tragedy – is their shot, their one and only shot, at stopping eight from becoming nine and nine from becoming ten.
What they have completely, and utterly, failed to do on the football pitch they now want to do by negating months of results and games.
And they call this “sporting integrity”.
They are shameless.
Do not let them try to shame us.