Today Paolo Di Canio’s former assistant manager, Fabrizio Piccareta, claimed in an interview that Di Canio had a job offer from Celtic, to become the manager, in 2014. I don’t know if it’s true, and if you put me on the spot I would have to say that I doubt it.
He wanted the job and made that clear at the time.
But do I really believe that the Celtic board wanted to give it to him and refused to only because he wanted his own coaches?
On balance I have to say no, but I’m going to be honest; I’m only saying no because I could not conceive of any scenario where that appointment would have been remotely acceptable to Celtic fans in the main.
But of course, that doesn’t mean we didn’t try to do it.
Is this board capable of such a mind-bendingly bad decision?
Oh absolutely, yes.
Would Lawwell have sanctioned such a catastrophe?
Unfortunately, I have to conclude that it’s possible.
Appointing Di Canio would have been an unpardonable disgrace even in strictly football terms.
There was nothing in his managerial “career” to remotely justify it.
His role at Sunderland was ended in record time, with the dressing room in revolt and the club in freefall. He had accomplished not one thing to give people any confidence that he could do the job.
But there are other reasons of course, and they are bigger, by far, than a poor record in the dugout.
Di Canio is a self-confessed fascist.
He went to great lengths to point out that there’s a difference between this and being a racist; if there is, it’s marginal at best.
He attended the funeral of a major fascist politician linked to a terrorist atrocity.
He has expressed support and admiration for Mussolini; indeed he has tattoos of him.
Nobody with those political views belongs at our club, far less in the exalted position once held by the likes of Jock Stein and which is inhabited at the moment by a good man who is himself an immigrant and so fits right into our ethos.
To be brutally frank, if Di Canio was offered the job and had accepted it this club would have found itself embroiled in a major controversy to say the very least, and the persons responsible for that decision would eventually have been chased out of the building amidst a groundswell of anger which would have been overwhelming.
The season ticket base McCann built would have been obliterated at a stroke and widespread protests would have followed.
Sponsors would have run for the hills.
After he was appointed at Charlton, the GMB condemned it and removed their sponsorship from the stadium.
When he was appointed manager of Sunderland, David Miliband, who was their vice chairman, resigned immediately. A local miner’s organisation, whose banner at the ground had become ubiquitous, withdrew it and their support.
The impact on Celtic’s reputation would have been immediate and enormous.
The clamour for his dismissal would have started before he had managed a game.
Carpark protests would have put the club on the brink of meltdown.
The relationship with much of the fan-base would have been wrecked beyond repair under that board, and I don’t even think there’s any point in arguing otherwise, it’s a simple fact.
Furthermore, the claim itself so incendiary that I don’t believe that Celtic can afford to leave it hanging there, as if it were a fact.
In my view the club needs to quash that story with a straight-up denial.
It’s a serious charge, to think that we were ever even debating such a thing within the walls.
It would have taken a board totally at odds with our entire history and ethos to ever have submitted such an offer, even on a verbal basis, and for that reason I find it hard to believe.
But this claim is live and in the public domain.
It stands unrefuted, and as long as it does there will be some question as to whether or not it is true.
Did Celtic offer the manager’s job to a self-confessed fascist?
That’s not something that the club can afford to have out there, on the record, and I’ve already asked them for clarification and I shouldn’t be the only person who does so because it’s too serious a matter.