There is a West Wing moment which I think of often when our board maintains its silence in the face of so much of Scottish football’s background level of scandal.
It comes when Josh Lyman, the Deputy Chief of Staff, is advising the Vice President about when and when not to get in front of the media. He tells him that a man in his position “doesn’t need to swing at every ball.”
He tells Russell straight that if he does that he’s giving away his power. In a nomination year – which is the context of the story – a Vice Presidential statement or speech should stop all other news in its tracks.
It should be the running headline story on every cable news channel.
It’s about knowing you are strong, and knowing how to use your strength reasonably and to the best strategic advantage.
A Vice President taking a public stand on every issue ceases to generate headlines after a while and becomes just another electioneering candidate. A Vice President who picks the key moments in which to speak out looks like a national leader.
There are people who would have our club speak out on everything that happened in the game. I’m not one of those people. But there are a handful of moments when not to speak would be as well reducing us to having no power at all.
It’s only as good as how you use it.
Yesterday, Chris Sutton had a wee backhanded slap at Steven Gerrard and the SFA at the same time, when he joked on the BT Sport show that he wondered if the former Ibrox boss was taking his pet referees with him.
That joke will have been an eye opener south of the border. It will have landed with a wet slapping sound for a lot of viewers, the kind of noise a fish makes when it’s smacked across someone’s face.
A bit of a “wake up” moment in other words.
Can you imagine the headlines it would have made, all over Britain, if our club had used the megaphone at its disposal to insist on refereeing reform? I’m not suggesting that we crack jokes and make it funny, I’m suggesting that we learn that there is power in a club our size speaking out over what it believes is a serious problem.
And that power is amplified, not lessened, because we do it so infrequently.
Nobody will be able to say “oh this is Celtic moaning again” or accuse us of acting out of pique or spite or anger.
Why does it take someone like Sutton, having a laugh but also deadly serious, to raise this issue in a forum where it gets to that wider audience?
There is a time for dignified silence and a time for speaking out.
Earlier in the week we found out that the SFA’s new pet Nick Walsh – who booked Carter Vickers earlier in the season for getting kicked whilst on the deck – will referee the semi-final against St Johnstone.
These one off fixtures are the ones where an “honest mistake” can have the greatest impact.
Is Celtic really going to wait for something unconscionable, something that really costs us something, before they speak out on this, or are we going to leave it people like Chris Sutton, throwing it around as part of a comedy club act with Ally McCoist?
This is a serious issue … and it needs a serious debate.
The Celtic board would generate headlines all across football if it spoke up on the need for big changes.
Reform is a real possibility right now.
Numerous clubs have griped and moaned and bitched after coming up against ourselves and the club across the city; I know we’ve got nothing to hide, so I am baffled as to why we don’t lead.
Start the debate Celtic. Get people talking. Use our power, or what’s our power for?