According to reports today, Celtic and Aberdeen are said to be furious about yesterday’s decision to sanction them.
This is about what I expected. The SPFL and the SFA are having a laugh with this. Aside from the two clubs themselves, it’s said that the anger extends to other teams.
Most of them, probably. It’s not difficult to understand why.
I think there need to be regulations which can punish the clubs, but not for what individual players do. If clubs themselves breach the protocols – and only one has so far, and oddly enough they aren’t being cited for it – they deserve punishment. Heavy punishment.
But clubs taking responsibility for rogue actions by players? That’s not going to garner any support at all. On top of that, the governing bodies, in attempting to show their teeth, have proposed some preposterous individual punishments. Did anything these players do warrant an eight match ban? Has that sanction ever been handed out to a footballer?
What happens when clubs get infected players through no fault of their own? Even with the best system in the world, if someone’s asymptomatic he or she could give this thing to one of our players and nobody would know until a positive test.
Is player and club going to be punished for that? How well thought out are these regulations? And are they really designed to do anything other than give the beaks at Hampden cover the next time the politicians are banging their drums?
Had these folk done their jobs right in the first place, and put punishments on the statute books when it was obvious they were required, we wouldn’t be here.
In their incompetence they screwed up and they want to make someone pay for that … and Celtic and Aberdeen are convenient scapegoats, and especially as they don’t want to punish anyone at Sevco.
But the rebellion has already begun behind the scenes, as other clubs worry that the acts of a single player might see them hauled before the discipline committee and the blame for a shutdown falling on them.
On top of that, the idea that players will face long bans is something that few clubs are going to support, no matter how egregious the behaviour.
As I suspected yesterday, the PFA isn’t going to tolerate it either.
Fraser Wishart was on the radio today and he made it quite clear that players can’t be disciplined in this way after the clubs have already dealt with them internally. Retrospective punishment is not something that any trade union in the world is going to accept being inflicted on their members.
To me, this is an unstoppable coalition and for once Celtic is at the centre of it.
The club is particularly angry having actually helped to write the protocols which every club has adopted. We are one of only a few clubs to have bought a testing machine. We view this with the utmost seriousness and the SPFL and SFA decision to cite us is insulting in light of that.
I think Celtic’s players should have been in training after the Hamilton match, but aside from having the players in every single day without fail just so we can keep tabs on them I don’t know what else we could have done. Short of some Adrian Durham style violation of their rights, we can’t imprison footballers or have their every move tracked, and because this is true for every club in the country none are going to be comfortable supporting sanctions.
Kris Boyd and a handful of bitter people on the periphery of the media aside, no-one believes that points deductions should happen here because there’s no knowing what players elsewhere will do as this thing goes on. Almost every club will know of at least one incident within its walls which would have put them in the crosshairs of the authorities.
No club wants to take a risk like that, a risk that a single footballer in their employ might act out and cost them points. It’s bad enough that it would already bring the wrath of the governing bodies and the press on them, not to mention condemnation from Holyrood.
This was probably the easiest coalition we’ve ever tried to build.
This is a serious situation we’re in here, and the beaks at Hampden are screwing it up.
I understand that they’ve been made to look stupid – by their own inactions – but instead of trying to look tough they ought to get real.
This isn’t a game they are playing here, but I just don’t get the impression they’re taking it seriously.
They started out so well, but when it’s come to the real stuff they have reverted to type and shown themselves to be hopelessly out of their depth.
As this crisis continues to unfold they are going to be tested like never before, and based on what I’ve seen in the past week they are grossly unsuited to this task, in a way that makes Trump, Johnson and Bolsonaro look capable and professional.
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