Today the SFA has announced that the compliance officer is to open a case against our club for breaching social distancing guidelines in respect of the Dubai trip.
This is a clear case of the governing body bowing to public pressure.
It’s also a case they can’t win and they know they can’t win it even as they are going through the motions.
In short, this is a sham investigation as everyone involved must be well aware.
This is a typical example of the SFA being gutless, and not being trustworthy.
They had cleared us over this trip, even after the initial outcry. There is no new information that they have received which changes the equation one way or the other.
So they are either coming after us now when they said we had no case to answer or, as I strongly suspect is the case, they are lying to everyone else.
It seems fairly obvious that they have caved in because government ministers have said that the matter should be investigated. The media is hollering the same message, with all manner of idiots and goons traipsing through the studios making demands.
But first up, the charges won’t stand up, because we can fall back on the SFA’s own statements and other evidence which I’ll get to in a minute.
Secondly, there will be no real punishment even if the charges are somehow able to stand up to scrutiny.
Now, it should be clear that nobody at this site is saying that Celtic don’t deserve a slap on the wrist or the criticisms that are coming our way.
I said that whatever punishments and public slamming we get we should man up and accept as the consequences of our stupidity.
We deserve everything that’s hit us and is headed for us, and no question.
If we do get done over this I would hope we’d have the good grace not even to appeal; it might offset some of the damage we’ve done to our reputaiton over this ridiculous trip.
This is the only time I am ever going to write words like that, and I assure you of that.
Because honestly, I don’t know what their grounds can possibly be.
The SFA’s stance is laughably inconsistent.
It is, in fact, untenable.
Their charge is that we broke social distancing guidelines.
My answer to that would be, “what guidelines are these?”
Our players were sat around a swimming pool, in the open air, in an environment Celtic claims had passed muster.
But if it was okay for two people to sit across the table in a restaurant only a couple of months ago, when neither person had been in a full isolation bubble, or subject to regular testing, then someone’s going to have to explain to me why a manager and his captain chatting on sun loungers isn’t.
This is like the ridiculous “team photo” allegation all over again, and that case never got off the ground.
My understanding of this is that the bubbles themselves are the protection and that within those bubbles social distancing is slightly relaxed. That’s how I understand it. If I’m wrong explain to me how.
And whilst you’re at it, explain why it’s okay for players to hug one another after scoring a goal.
How does it work in dressing rooms during this?
Does everyone have his own isolation booth?
Football’s bubbles are so out of step with what the rest of the world is doing that I’d be amazed if more than a handful of people understand the regulations as they are written.
Certainly, the creation of the “bubbles” in order to facilitate the playing of matches is an acknowledgement than in any team game, and especially a contact sport, social distancing is an impossibility.
My objection to those pictures was the ghastly optic of it; this social distancing breach argument is absolute cobblers I’m afraid.
Then there’s what is almost certainly Celtic’s Exhibit A in any case; the footage of Scotland players, inside Hampden, having an impromptu party in the dressing room after qualifying for the Euros.
If teams are to be prosecuted now for players sitting next to each other outdoors then I cannot wait for the SFA’s defence of it when similar scenes are photographed during that competition, if indeed the Euros ever actually goes ahead.
On top of this, imagine we are somehow convicted on the central charge; what is likely to happen here?
I’d suggest not very much because those using the fines and forfeits handed out to other clubs are comparing apples with oranges, perhaps in an effort to misrepresent this case.
Those clubs were docked points and fined for being unable to fulfil fixtures due to breaches. We fulfilled the fixture, and we would have been able to do so had another half dozen players been out.
If found guilty, we’ll get fined; that’s a certainty.
But the punishment some are hollering for is simply not going to happen, and they ought to stop squealing about it.
We fulfilled the fixture, and that’s the difference.
I understand, by the way, that this ought not to be a defence; this is a rich club’s defence. That’s something that probably needs a greater discussion … and it would start with us acknowledging the fact of it, which I am happy to do right now.
The rules are ridiculous because they clearly discriminate against smaller clubs … but it’s too late to make retrospective changes to them simply because we’ve shown them up for that.
Nobody was in the slightest doubt before this that those regulations were one-sided nonsense.
It’s just that it wasn’t made into an issue until now.
What we’ve done is plainly, clearly, unequivocally wrong and we do deserve to be punished and most Celtic fans do not care what that punishment is at the moment because even a forfeiture doesn’t materially change our position that much; indeed, most people would see it as poetic justice and hang it around Lawwell’s neck, which is where it belongs.
But I’m just stating facts here; the grounds on which we’re being charged are shaky – and especially after the SFA had already publicly cleared us.
The punishments even if we were somehow found to be in breach of the regulations are so modest for a scenario which doesn’t involve a postponement that it seems like an exercise in PR rather than a genuine case.