The news, last night, that Bolingoli has become the second Celtic player to be subjected to a club investigation after violating vital public health protocols is outrageous.
Both Griffiths and Bolingoli have acted contrary to the best interests of Celtic, Scottish football and even public health.
I was initially angry about the Griffiths incident but not to the extent I believed the club had to resort to the ultimate sanction. What I would never have done was what Lennon did at the weekend, and tried to minimise it as a non-issue. That was an incredibly stupid thing for the manager to have said and there must have been people cringing inside the club.
It no longer looks like such a small matter in light of what Bolingoli has done.
The only difference between us and Aberdeen right now is that we’ve had no positive cases as a result of these reckless acts.
That is no small blessing, it’s a minor miracle. We’ve gotten lucky. With massive league games to come and Champions League ties to navigate a single positive test would have been catastrophic. Both were willing to risk that, and there can be only one consequence.
Neither of them should have a continued place at our club.
Celtic, if it wants to act responsibly and show leadership on this, should transfer list both of them. For Griffiths, it’s a slightly less egregious offence but it fits with a pattern of behaviour on his part which I said in an earlier article has pushed the club to the breaking point.
This is where our forbearance ought to have run its course, and the player shown the door.
For Bolingoli it’s an even simpler equation. He violated the rules in the most fundamental and outrageous way. He has behaved disgracefully. He ought to be done at Celtic Park, no second chances, no possibility of making restitution and no mealy mouthed apology should suffice.
It should be the end of the road for him.
His transfer listing should be automatic.
Apart from anything else, he’s broken the law. Where is there an argument for keeping him around? Even if he were ten times the footballer he is this would be unforgivable. He endangered our entire club, and the Scottish game. His bridges are well and truly burned.
That man should never pull on a Celtic strip for a professional match again.
Where is the discipline at Celtic Park? Who enforces it?
Who is the leader at our club right now?
We have two players – that we know of – who have gone off the reservation at a time when the smallest slip can have appalling consequences for everyone at Parkhead.
How was this allowed to happen? Are those charged with minding the store doing so? Are they giving their full focus and commitment to the job at the moment? Are our players being drilled every day or do they have too much latitude and free time to go off on little side quests?
I ask this because Bolingoli wasn’t just sightseeing for a day somewhere; he took a mini-break to a foreign country.
Was there no training to attend? No team meetings?
What was he supposed to be doing when he was off doing that, and how come nobody knew until he’d returned and played in a goddamned football match?
This is an epic failure on so many levels.
That an example has to be made of both of these guys is patently obvious to everyone including, I hope, Neil Lennon, who’s public dismissal of Griffiths’ party might not have been quite so forthcoming if, like me and thousands of others, he’d had to bury a relative during this thing.
I stood at my uncle’s graveside on 1 May this year when this thing was at its height, and if I take it seriously as a result that’s just one of the many, many, many reasons why.
There are those who are making excuses for these guys in much the same way as excuses were being made for the players at Aberdeen who have dropped their club deep into the hole with their behaviour.
If Aberdeen lose their next two games – as seems likely – they will have played three SPL games and recorded no points … they are deep in trouble before this campaign has even properly gotten underway, and I cannot understand the casual attitude with which their chairman sought to explain away this matter.
I hope Celtic does not do the same.
But footballers are not children still trying to learn about right and wrong; these are men, grown men, adults fully capable of making decisions. If they are in any way following the news and aware of what’s going on in the rest of the world they know full well what’s expected of them and the reasons why those things are important.
For anyone to be pretending that they are simply ignorant of the full facts and unaware of the potential consequences lets them off the hook and invites more breaches in the future. Our footballers do not require hand-holding here as if they were kids.
The rules are clear and it takes a conscious decision to break those rules and violate the terms and that’s what Griffiths has done and that’s what Bolingoli did.
For him to call it a “mistake” is an insult to all of us.
This was not, as he calls it, “an error of judgement” any more than eight Aberdeen players can be excused their night out in the pub.
These people made a deliberate choice here, and as that choice could have a colossal impact on Celtic and the game then it should have a colossal impact on their careers here.
We do ourselves no credit pretending otherwise.
Indeed, if we ignore these incidents or put them down as minor infractions when the possible effects of them are so vast as to be nearly unquantifiable, we are asking for real, real trouble somewhere down the line, the kind that quarantines our squad at the very least, costing us God knows what in points and prizes and perhaps far, far worse for the sport.
I already think the chances of Scottish football making it through this crisis without another shutdown are somewhere between slim and none. But if that happens and it starts in our own house, and it costs us this title tilt and the ten in a row, then those responsible will be condemned for all time as selfish egotists and wreckers without parallel in our history.
And I’ll tell you this; that’s a lesser concern than that their actions might cost some kit-man or trainer or physio or relative of such their health or maybe even their life.
Football is not bigger than life and death, no matter how great the quote sounds, and in a very real sense those are the stakes we’re all playing for here, and for that reason alone Griffiths and Bolingoli should be ushered to the exit door and whichever club wants them.
Anybody else at Celtic Park who’s failing on this particular job should go with them.
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