Neither Celtic Nor Any Other Club Should Be Blaming Its Problems On Politicians.

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I was not surprised to see Jack Ross having a pop at the Scottish Government the other day, by suggesting that they are using issues within football as a distraction from other issues.

I am sure that this is a view widely shared within the sport.

It just so happens that it is entirely wrong, and even offensive for him or anyone else in the sport to be making that kind of claim.

I don’t know if Ross believes he’s on the Celtic managerial shortlist or whatever, and is trying to curry a little favour, or if his own club really is feeling put upon – his club and other clubs – by the pressure they feel from Holyrood.

But, except for the tolerance governments have at the moment for the sport, all these people would be fearing for their jobs like millions of other people in this country.

Professional sport, and football in particular, has been afforded an almost godlike position during this crisis, and given sweeping protections which are not available to the creative arts, to the hospitality trade or, indeed, to most other industries.

And yet I frequently hear people within football bitching the authorities out for daring to question them on their own stupid mistakes. The creation of the football bubbles was conferred responsibilities on clubs and staff alike; over the last few months there have been numerous breaches of the protocols and not just by people at Celtic but people elsewhere in the game.

Too many in football are too quick to point the finger at elected officials because they dare to remind them that their responsibilities are real.

North and south of the border, we’ve seen footballers and clubs behave with appalling recklessness; what do they expect our political class to do in response to that?

We’re lucky that some harsh words have been the extent of the consequences so far, except for Celtic and Aberdeen having fixtures cancelled by government fiat.

I know a lot of our fans are shocked at the apparent double standard where the Scottish Government is concerned; I am still bewildered at why they thought praising the Ibrox club was alright when they had already slammed our club more than once.

But I do not agree that there are people in the Holyrood administration who are just out to get us or hold a special place for the club at Ibrox in their hearts. It is not true. I’m tempted to call it paranoid.

The truth is that the governments on both side of the border have been incredibly tolerant of football’s faux pas so far. That state of affairs cannot last, and it will not last if people in football continue to thumb their noses at the rest of us.

It makes the politicians themselves look ridiculous and enfeebled, and I know from personal experience of meeting many of them that they hate nothing more than for folk to think they are being made mugs of.

These people have the power to shut down the whole game again, and if they think that is justified or warranted or necessary they will not hesitate to do so.

I don’t know who Jack Ross was speaking on behalf of yesterday; himself, his club or someone else, but I do know that like a lot of people in our game and on its periphery he’s shooting at the targets he really ought not to be trying toi hit.

Football is causing its own problems, as Celtic did this week with their spectacularly crass and ill-judged trip to Dubai.

We have no-one but ourselves to blame for the backlash it generated, and even now that the dust has settled on it, it was as if we couldn’t help ourselves but remind people all over again, which is what Lennon did last night with his barmy description of the team and the trip, which made them sound more like they were returning holidaymakers rather than athletes who had been sweating under the hot sun.

Ross said politicians are using football as a distraction; he is talking crazy.

Everyone knows what the political class is focussed on right now, but I would wager that very few of us can actually comprehend the enormous pressures and stresses which are involved in sitting in those offices and taking on the vast responsibility for having to deal with this thing along with the myriad other challenges they face every day.

It is easy to sit on the side-lines as snipe at public officials; what we have to remember is that these folk are just like us, no more prepared, and no more armed with expertise, than the average citizen; they are elected by us, but we tend to forget that for the most part they are also elected from us; they are not blessed with special talents or gifts.

They make mistakes. The greater the crisis, the greater the mistakes.

The Etonian clique aside, these people weren’t born with any expectation of holding this kind of power and it probably scares them to death. Most will never have never managed a crisis more complicated than balancing their chequebooks before now.

Pointing the finger at them and having a pop is the easiest thing in the world; it’s certainly a lot easier than getting your own house in order.

Football needs to do that, and fast.

If politicians really are looking for ways to take some of the pressure off, and palm off their very natural, and very human, mistakes onto the sport, the sport can lock that down simply by no longer giving them such an obvious target to shoot at.

When those in the game stop screwing up, I assure you that our political class will stop criticising them for it.

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