Every person who ever assumed an executive position at Celtic Park took on certain, and in some cases gigantic, responsibilities.
Not everyone has lived up to them.
The time for doing so was never more important than it was when we clinched eight in a row and started going for nine. The appointment of Neil Lennon as manager was the first sign that our board wasn’t taking those responsibilities as seriously as they might have been.
It is the job of our directors to put us in the best possible position to achieve our goals.
There were better managers out there, so the appointment of Lennon was a failure to do that, and one that we have come to regret.
It was not the only one though.
It was blatantly obvious that there were other issues which had to be resolved.
The Ibrox club had spent money it didn’t have in every season of its existence.
It was clear that they would continue to do so without financial fair play regulations.
That these were not introduced in 2012 is a flat-out scandal for which our current custodians should be damned by history.
No effort was made to introduce them prior to the last two seasons, when it was plain that failure to do so was a major threat to our chances of securing the ten.
Tomorrow I’ll do a fuller piece on why FFP is about more than just protecting Celtic, but the board’s first responsibility should have been looking out of the interests of the club.
There was an even more obvious issue though, and it was the probability that we’d see a Season of Honest Mistakes like never before.
When Kevin Clancy said, at the start of the season, that the officials “knew what was at stake” it was perfectly obvious what he was talking about. There was to be no stone left unturned in the quest to make sure that we did not complete the history.
Clancy has been as good as his word.
He is a dreadful referee in every sense, but he’s far from being the only one, and his sub-par performances have the reek of something more than just incompetence about them.
We are in a season of unprecedented Honest Mistakes, a season which will go down in history for what’s going on.
The media does not want to highlight this stuff.
Look at last night; they are pretending that Kemar Roofe lunge was a minor matter instead of a potential career-ending challenge.
The referee saw it and deemed it only a yellow card.
Had there been an appropriate outcry against Clancy amongst the hacks then Roofe might not have felt empowered to make that challenge, and know that he could get away with it. But there will be no red-carding an Ibrox player at a precarious point in a difficult match, just as they don’t get penalty kicks awarded against them this season either.
Clancy’s comments were so brazen, and obvious, that you wonder nobody at Celtic picked up on them.
We have referees who go drinking in bars frequented by the Ibrox support.
We have others who have admitted to “once” having season tickets for the ground … and who almost certainly will go right back to supporting from the stands when they are no longer officials.
This is an historical problem.
We have former refs who were regular speakers on the after-dinner circuit at Ibrox supporter’s functions and at the lodges both Orange and Masonic.
We had the head of referees at the SFA fired for sending a sectarian email. His son continues to officiate today.
We have another official who doubles as a part-time politician of the unionist stripe. It is not even remotely difficult to work out where his allegiances lie; earlier this season, in the aftermath of Dubai, he made accusations against the club as a whole … and we can expect him to be running the line in games against us in the very near future.
There is no point in anyone trying to pretend that this doesn’t go on and that it doesn’t materially affect the outcome of games.
Our current custodians couldn’t give a stuff about this kind of thing.
Whether they wanted an easy life or lacked the guts to take these issues on isn’t clear, but we can see the impact it has on the Scottish game.
If there isn’t clear-cut corruption in the sport it is not because the conditions for breeding it don’t exist here; they quite obviously do and Celtic has been staggeringly lax when it has come to putting that right.
Plainly, we can’t just carry on like this.
Every chief executive coming into a new organisation wants to make an early mark.
The in-tray for Dominic McKay already looms large.
But I can think of few things that he can do in the first part of his tenure which would have greater long term benefits than to put together a proposal for his fellow CEO’s and club directors to change the refereeing system in Scotland.
You might not know it to listen to the St Johnstone manager last night – his comments, seeking to grant Roofe some sort of absolution for injuring his player were ridiculous – but most managers outside of Glasgow are sick and tired of what they perceive to be a bias in favour of the clubs from that city; we know they are half right at least.
If McKay comes forward with proposals for fixing refereeing, and for removing the element of bias, we’ll see who supports it and who does not. We’ll see who is in favour of it and who is not. Some of these directors who moan about this constantly should be forced, finally, to confront the reality of the problem and do something about it.
Some of the managers who use the “Glasgow bias” of refs as a frequent excuse for their abject failure to get results in this city will be pushed into a corner and made to take a side.
I genuinely believe that there is a constituency out there for change in this area.
Dominic McKay can hit the ground running, and make it clear that Celtic has intentions towards reforming the wider game here.
His predecessor has been a disastrous failure in this regard or worse; Lawwell is the compromised figure some say he is, with too much dirt under his own fingernails to genuinely want to challenge the status quo.
McKay comes from outside the game, and sometimes those are the best people at pushing big changes.
We know his first priority will be to fix the problems inside the walls, but the crisis that put us here has many strands to it, and one of those is that our directors did not meet their responsibilities to put us in the best place we could be, because this stuff was left undone.
If McKay wants to create the best environment in which Celtic can thrive, this is a priority.
If he decides not to bother, we’ll continue to pay for it and he’s hamstringing us, and by definition himself, from the get-go.
I have to think he’s smarter than that.