This morning I read two articles which to me summed up the whole spectrum of debate on the relationship between the Scottish Government and football, and in particular Celtic.
One of those articles was on Neil Lennon’s latest snarling press conference.
The other was by Chris Sutton, of whom I’m often been highly critical on this site.
Lennon’s was just a mad rant, throwing accusations which the club itself doesn’t support and would not have encouraged. Accusing the Scottish Government of singling Celtic out, as though there were a conspiracy at the highest levels to harm us.
He also repeated this already derided nonsense about how his “conscience is clear” over Dubai, as if he’d been accused of murder and not just a reckless, selfish act which dynamited what was left of our season.
There is a lot of hyperbole and nonsense being spouted on this subject, and Lennon is doing a lot of it.
Bear in mind when he made these allegations of “different treatment” that was not endorsed by our club.
It wasn’t even put out on the official media channels, because nobody inside Parkhead was in the least bit interested in keeping this debate going and they knew that Dubai was a PR nightmare made in our own house.
Lennon, alone of everyone at Celtic, seems to want to keep this thing going for reasons that have more to do with deflection than anything else.
I thought he sounded like a paranoid loony yesterday.
The Scottish Government must be looking at this guy and wondering if our club has lost control of him.
There are reasons for being angry at the administration in Holyrood, but to suggest, however obliquely, that the Scottish National Party, which wants to break up the union, is a creature of Ibrox, the most pro-union club on this island, or even that ministers in an SNP government have some special place in their hearts for, and would bend public policy in favour of, the team of the troops and the crown is locked ward stuff. It is tinfoil hat talk.
All this because Nicola Sturgeon chose a general criticism of football in midweek rather than attacking the club from across the city directly. I am curious what people expected, or wanted, her to say.
This is First Minister of Scotland, dealing with a pandemic.
I am guessing she’s sick and damned tired of football coming up every other week at her daily briefings. I couldn’t care less that she generalised. We should all have more important things to worry about.
As one Celtic site pointed out today, when a group of protesters threw things at the team bus back in November, she didn’t attack Celtic fans directly; she generalised.
She even mentioned the club across the city in her criticisms, which drove that idiot McCoist to apoplexy.
Is that what Lennon is now? A McCoist clone?
Is that appropriate behaviour for a Celtic boss?
In contrast, Chris Sutton took aim at the Scottish Government today and he didn’t miss.
His article was forensic and detailed and read like a serious critique of the double standards being applied against football in the main. I thought it was one of his stronger pieces in a while, and an excellent summation of where the Holyrood executive has been all over the place.
I only regret that I can’t link to it because of the publication it was in; there are things I just won’t do.
Because it’s clear to everyone that there are legitimate areas of concern here.
It’s clear that there hasn’t been even-handed treatment across the boards.
It’s clear – and we’ve said this before – that there is a certain sneering, condescension towards football, and whilst not everything in his article is on the nose – I do think football and footballers have been afforded special privileges which other industries don’t get – I thought he absolutely nailed it.
This crisis will be over eventually; the health one, not, it seems, the one of having Lennon as manager of Celtic.
When this ends we need to have a working relationship with the people who run the country; that’s all to the good, no? I mean you’d think any serious organisation would be doing its best to make sure that there was a healthy respect between the two.
Lawwell tried to mend some fences with his public apology for Dubai, which he made on behalf of the club before the manager undercut that message.
The incoming CEO will want things to be constructive and friendly, and it would be slightly improved if we didn’t have a director who seems to have made it his life’s mission to attack the SNP at every opportunity whilst the club laughably tells the fans to leave the politics at the door.
It is just ridiculous for Lennon to be keeping this going, and punching on this festering sore. Sutton, of all people, showed him that if you do want to be critical that there’s a constructive, and skilful, way to do it.
Sitting and sounding off like some guy in a bar whilst representing this club as our manager sure as Hell isn’t it.