As regular readers will know, I keep a close watch on developments involving the global health emergency, and there are, at the moment, reasons for pessimism in relation to our football club.
All across Europe, countries are re-issuing lockdown notices and restrictions and some of these restrictions involve limiting attendances at games or shutting down football altogether.
Added to that, of course, is a fresh problem, one that we should all be keenly watching; the new variant, which spreads much faster than previous ones and which is now widely regarded as being capable of causing re-infections and even bursting through the protective barrier of the vaccines. On the surface of it, this is news of the very worst kind.
But – and this is still supposition, not fact – some of the signs also give us cause for optimism.
In South Africa, where this variant was discovered, those suffering from it are said to have only mild symptoms. The World Health Organisation has not yet registered any deaths from this outbreak, although we are about a week to two weeks away from having hard data on whether or not this bug is less dangerous as a result of its genetic mutations.
But the numbers look … encouraging.
This thing spreads like lightning and it’s clearly been circulating, globally, for weeks … so whilst it is wise to monitor the figures and keep an eye on the situation, it’s also probably right to remain cautiously optimistic.
The one area where we may have immediate worries is in what happens when we get positive cases in our squad.
Now, you’ll notice that I’ve not said “if” here; the data strongly suggests that with the ease this thing spreads that all of us are likely to get it. All of us. And right now, because it’s not yet clear what the full impact of it will be, that means that players and coaches will have to self-isolate until we know more about this and what it does.
As things stand right now, I don’t see any way that SPL clubs, including ours, are going to avoid major outbreaks. This variant is totally different from the currently dominant Delta.
The cases which have emerged so far in Europe strongly suggest super-spreader events are much more common and more likely, which means if one person at the club gets it the likliehood is that it will sweep through the whole lot of it.
The consequences of that hardly need explaining.
Celtic should be seeking clarification from the SFA and the Scottish Government on this as a matter of extreme urgency. If this variant turns out to be mild and players and staff are fully vaccinated and therefore unlikely to develop severe symptoms even in the worst case scenario will the new variant be treated like the current one?
The SFA should offer some guidance, publicly, to that effect so that in an instance where there is a mass outbreak at a club – a matter of time away, and a stonewall certainty – that there is not even the least debate about what happens next.
That way, Celtic fans will not have the slightest doubts about the fairness of the process, and we can rest easy knowing that the rules affect everyone equally.
This is an ever evolving situation, and we really should be pushing for this guidance to be made available as soon as possible.
Celtic not only has to be alert, and responsible, but we need to be seeking this information and then putting it in the public domain – or insisting it be put there – without delay, or this thing is going to creep right up on us.