For years I’ve resisted writing about this subject because it does not directly relate to football, and this blog focuses on football.
I’ve never been interested in joining the gutter level “debate” which has been going on over this issue and which rages back and forth online.
Horrible things have happened and they have happened to real people.
I will not degrade those people further by using their pain and suffering in the furtherance of any cause or campaign. The legal wheels are turning and those wheels must be allowed to turn.
That was my view when this first reared its head and it is my view now.
I understand that there are people who pretend sympathy for the victims and their loved ones. They are everywhere on social media, promoting their own bitterness and hatred and bigotry through the prism of entirely ersatz “concern”.
They don’t give a shit and we know they don’t give a shit. This is their dark obsession, allowing them to justify their own appalling, warped view of the world. But if it wasn’t this they would find something else.
They allege conspiracies to “sweep this under the carpet.”
Well, if those conspiracies exist they’ve been phenomenally unsuccessful as there have been court cases, and documentaries and books written on it and acres of press coverage down through the years.
They allege that officialdom has “done nothing” or tries to cover it up.
Well, that too hasn’t worked very well as there have been convictions and cases on top of cases and so many years handed out in sentences that some perpetrators will never see daylight again.
The Scottish Government gets it in the neck for not doing enough.
But it was the same Scottish Government which abolished the statute of limitations, which allowed the victims to get redress in the first place, and the Scottish Government which legislated in favour of the very group prosecutions which have made today’s developments possible.
But these Peepul just hate.
When they have no reason to hate they invent reasons.
Their view is that Celtic itself is somehow responsible and that the club should be closed down or bankrupted and that this would have happened already except that various individuals and institutions are standing in the way of it.
I mean, these people are warped and dangerous.
One of the things that has disturbed me most about how this issue has developed over the years is that so many of those who claim to speak for the victims have allied themselves with these lunatics in their quest for justice.
It’s like the alleged victims of Bill Clinton sharing a platform with Donald Trump; do a little evil to fight evil, eah?
I can see how it has a dark sort of appeal, but that doesn’t make it right.
For years I’ve said that I have a personal view on all this but that my view doesn’t belong on the blog, because this is too complicated an issue for that.
Well today one of the bricks in the wall has fallen out, and Celtic’s “separate entity” defence has collapsed in a legal ruling and now my view on this can be properly expressed for the first time, and my view comes down to this;
Whether we have a legal responsibility or not has never been the issue; we had a moral one and we’ve spent years running from it.
Well, the running is over because the legal fight to keep this from our door is over.
The men responsible for this are not only the perpetrators but those who worked inside Celtic in varying capacities and who knew and did nothing.
And I’m not talking about Jock Stein here who did what it was in his power to do.
I’m talking about those who made the ultimate calls on all this, the directors, the shareholders, the real decision makers.
We know who they are. We know the names of these people.
The enemies of our club have smeared their shit in so many directions and gone after so many targets that the focus on who should really be held accountable has gotten lost along the way.
Their names are not a secret.
Go and look at the ownership structure of Celtic throughout all the years of allegations and investigations.
The guilty are all there, and the strands which connect them to the perpetrators – business deals, partnerships and other cushy agreements – have been a matter of public record for eons.
Those people could have stopped this and those people didn’t do it.
They could have used their power and influence to remove every one of the alleged perpatrators from their roles … and they left them in place, in spite of all the stories and in spite of what they knew.
Those people are partly responsible for the suffering of the victims and the harm which has been done to Celtic.
We don’t have laws in this country to make the act of wilfully with-holding information about this sort of thing punishable by law, but I would vote for those laws tomorrow and support their being retrospectively enforceable and I would send those people to prison.
But those sorts of laws will never be passed, because, of course, they would ensnare more than just former directors at Celtic Park.
This gets into a wider debate which I really don’t want to get into because it genuinely has nothing to do with football … but the enemies of our club should be careful what they wish for and who they point their own grubby fingers at.
As long as that portrait hangs in the home dressing room they should keep their mouths shut before they bang on about institutional cover-ups and who knew what, where and when.
The time has come, though, for Celtic to stop obfuscating and passing the buck here.
That some of our former owners were up to their necks in keeping this stuff quiet, and that by their inactions the scum who did this were allowed to continue, is not really up for debate.
The legal definitions have always mattered less than our club needing to take a stand on behalf of what was right, and with the separate entity defence now invalid it is high time they did.
We could drag this out for years if we wanted to.
This case isn’t going before a tribunal any time soon, and we could comfortably sit and wait this out, but to what end?
The likelihood is that we will lose and even if we chip away at some of the individual cases and shatter the legalistic basis for them we will still have to face up to some cold hard facts.
And those cold hard facts are that some of those once in charge of Celtic let this go on to protect their pals.
Sure, they may kid themselves – as so many others across the world do – that they were “protecting the institution” but it doesn’t wash at all as it hasn’t washed anywhere else.
People in these situations protect their mates and cover their own arses … the rest is just bullshit.
No institution where this is allowed to go on is worth protecting in the first place.
These people didn’t give a shit about Celtic any more than the club’s enemies give a shit about the victims.
The scramble to avoid blame is as unseemly as the scramble to apportion it.
No-one at Celtic in the present day was in any way connected to this, but the task of finding a solution, one that treats the victims with dignity and respect and which acknowledges our institutional responsibility – not guilt but responsibility – is now in their hands.
They might not like it, but too bad.
It is time this was brought to a close.
It is time the victims got their redress.
It is time our club washed these stains off its hands.
The only people who will benefit from a lengthy, drawn out affair at this point are our enemies … and the lawyers.
They were rubbing their hands from the moment the law changed and the statute of limitations was abolished. The victims might not get everything they are due, but the vultures will always pick clean every morsel of meat off the bones.
There are so many reasons for getting this matter settled, not least of which is that it’s the right thing to do for the sake of those who’ve already suffered enough.
Now that the separate entity defence no longer applies the PR consequences of holding out only multiply.
To be frank, it would be disgraceful if we dragged our feet and our reputation – which has survived this intact because the current leadership did nothing wrong – would be tainted by doing so.
Celtic owes those people more than stony silence and a blank institutional reserve.
It insults them and degrades the rest of us.
There was a time when pursuing the legal avenues and throwing up the barriers might have been the right thing to do in strictly business terms but the utility of that strategy is now as dubious as our moral standpoint is ridiculous.
To put it even more bluntly, refusing to engage with this issue is now indefensible on every front.
Celtic must get the lawyers together, organise some meetings with the victims and get this matter resolved once and for all. Apologise, accept the judge’s verdict and spare the club and those who suffered from any further harm.
And at the same time, snatch this dark obsession out of the hands of the gutter dwellers who have made it the focus of their every waking minute. Remove it from those who would use it as a means to justify their hate.
The time is now, Celtic.
At last, at long last, do the right thing, for God’s sake.