Jim White is in the papers today claiming that his “intelligence” sources have told him that the Australian friendly is in serious doubt because the organisers are worried about the backlash and think that it’s “not worth the hassle.”
Whoever is feeding him this is, to use the Glasgow vernacular, taking the piss. But that doesn’t mean that they are telling him outright lies.
What do the organisers care that Ibrox fans are flinging loo roll onto pitches here in Scotland? What hassle are they getting over there, except for a predictable swamp of bile-filled emails which reflects badly on only one club?
Celtic aren’t giving them the least trouble, and whilst our fans are divided on how much they care, with even those of us who think it is shocking that our board is doing something as grotesque as this not going OTT over it, I am sure the organisers themselves are getting no stick from us whatsoever.
We know where the blame for this lies and it’s not with them.
Much as it pains me to say this – because I had hoped that more of our own supporters would have some grasp on the seriousness of this matter – only one set of fans is actually kicking up a fuss over this and they aren’t even going to move their own club far less the people who put this thing together in the first place.
If this is cancelled it won’t be because of them.
I have a sneaking suspicion that there are problems over there with this whole idea, and that the organisers have screwed something up. That explains so many things, including the posturing that Ibrox is doing in the media.
Because they aren’t going to unilaterally withdraw from this, no matter what their press toadies and the Ibrox fan-base might think. They are irrational lunatics but they aren’t stupid and this would be a phenomenally stupid thing to do with cash coming off the table and sanctions being applied instead. I would be frankly shocked if they did it.
But if they’ve heard that there are problems behind the scenes and that the organisers have made a mess of this somewhere along the line and are now trying to hold it all together, then that would explain their bluster in the press. Perhaps they think that they can somehow spin this thing collapsing as them having listened to their fans.
I have to say, that would be an incredibly reckless idea to promote, not that this will stop them. It is already on the record that their fans have boycotted merchandising deals at the urging of directors, and the commercial contracts with the SPFL might as well be in the bin as the Ibrox club is paying no heed whatsoever to the requirements of them, and their fans are seen as playing a role in the club continuing to take a hard-line on that.
The Ibrox board clearly played to the gallery when, at the start of the season, they talked about “settling scores”. The lunatic fringe over there doesn’t take much prompting to scream into action, and giving in to them, or being seen to, only makes that worse.
If this deal collapses Celtic must move swiftly to ensure that Ange still gets to take that opportunity to go home and manage in front of his countrymen. That is the least we owe this guy for making him the front-man in such a duplicitous charade … he is entitled to experience that pride and have that honour without all this baggage surrounding him.
But we should learn a couple of lessons from it too, and the first is to look across the city and see them for what they are and recognise that we’ve had a lucky escape here and vow never to make this mistake again.
The second is to have more respect for our wishes and our views because but for a few banners and some editorials we have behaved impeccably over this, no matter the strength of feeling for some of us, and that further sets us apart from the rabid mob who are now threatening their own board … and being seen to get their way.
These are the very people that ours would enter into a partnership with against our wishes and the club’s own interests.
And really, they should be able to see the folly of that by now.