Articles & Features

If The Worst Happens, Celtic Should Push For A Postponement Of The January Game.

Image for If The Worst Happens, Celtic Should Push For A Postponement Of The January Game.

Later on today, Nicola Sturgeon will give her view on major events in Scotland and I think by now most people are fearing the worst.

Wales has mandated that all of its sporting events should take place behind closed doors from Boxing Day on, as I said in the last article.

That might be the way that this government decides to go.

But whilst I know for a fact that Ibrox would be perfectly happy with that outcome, our club should be pushing, instead, for a postponement of the fixture.

There are good reasons why and we should be hammering them home.

For openers, playing games behind closed doors only works if you close down the entire hospitality sector with it. Otherwise you move the fans from inside the ground to the pubs and bars and private homes where the disease can even more easily spread.

Secondly, and this is where the league comes in and has to help out, there are obvious sporting integrity considerations here. We’re going into this game right up their backs in the league. The gap is a mere four points. We are entitled, if it’s possible, to have this game in front of our home support, and we won’t know whether that’s possible for weeks.

It may be that football has to play matches behind closed doors for the foreseeable future. But until that’s definitive and until there is a policy in place, ordering that this game be played in front of no fans severely, and obviously, disadvantages our club.

And whilst the Scottish Government has bigger things to worry about, the league body doesn’t. It’s up to them to make sure that the impact of this is fair and proportionate. They will not be doing that if they agree to close-door matches.

I worry that any postponement only buys us time and not even that much of it. The time for a lockdown to slow this thing was before it was rampaging through the population but the Westminster government didn’t do it when this thing first became known and we’re awfully damned lucky that it isn’t a more severe variant or that decision would have killed a lot of people.

There’s still a very good chance that it has.

So whilst I’m not sure what good it does us at this point, or when postponed games would eventually take place, that’s what Celtic must be pushing for. I suspect we’ll have allies and friends at other clubs, those which can’t afford to play games with no fans in the grounds and would welcome a few rescheduled matches as the alternative.

The fact is, to play the game behind closed doors doesn’t solve this problem. It only changes the nature of it, and not in a good way. Open air events might be potential super-spreader events but we know for a fact that with how this thing moves that crowding people into pubs or private homes to watch the game on the telly is certainly far worse.

If the Scottish Government decides on closing the doors to fans it is up to the football authorities to suspend the league until we know more, and that’s a decision that Celtic should be pressing for them to make. If closed door games become inevitable then so be it, but they must give us every chance to watch our team.

As I’ve been saying from the start, if this thing is weaker or responds well to vaccinations or drugs then there’s a chance that it will not overwhelm the health service and create the nightmare scenario. We’re a few weeks away from those numbers and that data. We might also see a variant specific booster, although my understanding of that is that whilst it’s relatively easy to create one that testing and manufacture put that out of reach for several months.

We can afford to put Scottish Football on hold for a while. It’s smart. It makes good sense. In a few hours we’ll know what Nicola Sturgeon and the government is thinking. At that point, those who run the game have a big decision to make.

Celtic will be in the room. We need to be influencing matters there.

Share this article