Today the Ibrox support is positively foaming at the mouth after the SFA handed out double seven game bans to their players after they breached health protocols earlier in the month.
Their fans are pointing at the sentences handed down to Celtic and Aberdeen and they are curious as to why we got what they perceive as a lighter sentence.
And you know what? I don’t have a clue, but I enjoy their squirming over it.
Do I think the SFA treated them more harshly than us? No, I actually don’t. Differently, yes, but not more harshly. We also got two games suspended by the Scottish Government, and we’ve only managed to play one of them.
Our punishment was of a different sort.
On top of it, we got a public caning for it although we’re talking about the actions of a renegade footballer here. Their club got a pat on the head from the government. They didn’t get ostracised and accused of dragging the game to the brink.
A seven match punishment seems excessive to them. But in fact, one of the reasons it’s harsher than what we and the Aberdeen players got is that all of us were at the start of this thing. The Aberdeen players claimed they were still unsure of the precise nature of the regulations. If I remember right Bolingoli said the same thing.
I made that argument in an article just the other day; where things are now, nobody is in the slightest doubt about what the rules are, nobody can plead ignorance or claim not to know, so breaking them clearly will come with a tough sentence.
The truth is, this isn’t Ibrox’s first offence either. Theirs is still the club – the only club, the only one in the country – to have wilfully broken the rules, by playing footballers in a friendly match before they had valid test results. The SFA let that one slide, although it should have carried a penalty far above and beyond the slap on the wrist they got here.
On top of that, I think most of us believe there’s more to this story, a lot more, and that there weren’t just two Ibrox players in attendance at this little soirée.
The strong suspicion is that everyone involved knows it too, and that somebody has decided that it’s in the interests of “Scottish football” that sins at Ibrox, again, go unpunished “for the greater good”. These two players have, in effect, been thrown to the wolves … to spare the rest of us.
Ha! It would be hilarious if the very idea wasn’t so corrupt.
That suspicion arises from three places; the SFA’s usual gutlessness when it comes to these matters, the way the media has soft-soaped it (including Tom English’s bizarre contention that those wanting a full investigation should be “careful what you wish for”) and the response from the club itself, which can usually be found hollering from the rooftops whenever they perceive that some form of injustice has been done to them.
Their fans would have you believe that’s exactly what has occurred, yet the club itself accepted the verdict yesterday with something like relief.
Celtic has worked tirelessly to make sure that our players are safe and that all are following the rules. The internal punishment handed down to Bolingoli will be severe, and apart from anything else he’s fully aware that he’s unlikely ever to play for the club again.
The Ibrox club was lucky when they broke SFA protocols and got away it before. It amuses me no end to hear their fans squealing here when their club isn’t even bothering to. They do see conspiracies everywhere they turn. It’s sad, really.