So Celtic finally confirmed today that the Gutter-Ball will take place in November, in Australia. The reaction from most fans has been outright apathy.
I don’t doubt that the ex-pat Aussies will snap up tickets, but short of acknowledging its existence and continuing to condemn the club for taking part in it, many others won’t be participating in any of the build-up or even watching it when it airs.
If you asked me to draw up a hierarchy of Celtic games that I would watch I would start with first team games, followed by women’s matches followed by games from the Development Squad followed by pre-season friendlies followed by charity and benefit matches, followed by intra-squad training games with legends games after them and sixes after that … and then, and only then, would we come, perhaps, to the farce in Australia.
I’ll make other plans that day.
Our club shouldn’t be near this. It’s a step on a slippery slope, and I’ll be writing about that later on. The whole idea of this fixture is rancid. It reeks.
Those inside Celtic who have approved it and allowed it to go ahead will bear the shame if it ends ugly, and it is almost certain to end ugly.
At a time when the supporters across this city are disgrace themselves weekly, and a section of our own away support is dragging us through the dirt, the very last thing our club needs is some toxic reminder to the world that there was once a fixture here in Scotland marketed solely on hate. I cannot fathom what they are thinking at all except about money.
And once you’re going down that road the question really does have to be asked; where would our board draw the line in the interests of making a few quid? That question haunts me in light of what is going on elsewhere in football and it should haunt every Celtic fan.
The idea that this is a good opportunity for Aussie fans to see the team – the defence that has been offered up by some people – is fine as far as it goes. But we could have played any one of a thousand teams and still achieved that goal.
This board chose this team, knowing we were against it, knowing the idea of it is toxic, and then hid that decision behind the public face of the manager. Not a single Celtic official involved in organising this fixture has had the guts to step forward to defend it.
Even Ibrox has spoken to its own fans about it. To me, that compounds the disgrace.
Nothing will make some of us accept this fixture, because we know what the future holds if we do. “Look forward” to this being a regular affair. Having done it once the people who run Celtic will, without a doubt, do it again … and far worse will follow.
Mark my words, this is just the start of it. Too many of our fans have just shrugged this off as if it was nothing. But we’re on the slippery slope here now that this is confirmed.