The Daily Record says that Dermot Desmond had a “veiled” dig at the Ibrox club in his widely trailed and reported on interview with CelticTV. As I said in the first piece of the day, I watched that interview and it didn’t impress me on a number of fronts.
But this one interested me and I thought it was worth a wider exploration.
First, let’s ignore The Record’s line of reasoning and focus on what the guy actually did; he didn’t make any such “veiled” dig at the Ibrox club. It was an open slap at them. Nothing about it was even slightly disguised.
If he had done the interview with that famous Herald picture of the Rangers headstone in the background it couldn’t have been more naked.
Without even mentioning them, Desmond has just said what we’ve wanted to hear out of Celtic for a long, long time; an open acknowledgement that the club considers them a NewCo and that they endorse the factual narrative that Rangers was liquidated.
Does it contradict previous statements?
Yes and no.
It contradicts Desmond’s own statements.
It contradicts the utter falsehood which Brian Wilson put in the Walter Smith obituary as recently as this year, and which Michael Nicholson defended on the grounds that it was “factually correct” … a statement which should have been disqualifying when he “interviewed” for the CEO job on a permanent basis on the grounds that he’s clearly too stupid for it.
But, in fact it was those statements that contradicted the club’s policy.
As regular readers know, I believe the Survival Lie and the Victim Lie, which flows from it, to be a dangerous and destructive narrative which our club should be challenging every time it gets the opportunity. Desmond’s intervention on this is late in the day – the liquidation of Rangers was a decade ago after all – but it is still effective for all that.
The remarks aren’t even equivocal. They are actually as clear as any that anyone from Celtic has made in the last ten years on this matter.
“We do not want the club to get into a financial state where the club goes into liquidation and there is going to be a new Celtic. We want our history to be continuous, not to be curtailed through financial mismanagement.”
As you can see, the statement doesn’t even stop with New Celtic or the word liquidation, there’s a specific reference in there to the history being continuous and that is the most aggressive, public stab at Ibrox that anyone at Parkhead has made in quite some time.
That he has actually put that out on the club’s official media channel is crucial to understanding the message here and its intended audience. He is as good as making it a statement of policy … which in point of fact is exactly what he’s saying that it is.
Look, I think his comments were pretty disingenuous when he talked about how the manager has always signed the players, and there are people who will say that he doesn’t mean a word of this. But as I said in the last article, there have been big developments in the relationship between the club at Ibrox and ours, and especially in the last few years.
That has changed the way we handle this … not, it has to be said, the way we view it.
Because although there have been efforts recently to monetise the Glasgow rivalry, events have proved conclusively that the club has plainly not permitted it to be marketed as “the Old Firm” and this is consistent with our pronouncements on this issue as far back as 2012 and even our club’s internal policies on what was the “Celtic-Rangers derby” prior to the events of that year.
Our club has maintained a soft position on the NewCo since the events of 2012.
In other words, we stated our view at the time that they were not the same club and used that as the basis for our vote in the decision to only grant Sevco a place in Division 3.
Our public posture has been to advertise our own “unbroken history” in subtle ways ever since without actually making any further public comment on it.
The stupid crass remarks of some of the directors aside, I am satisfied that our club has a settled view on this and always has, but we have chosen, for various reasons – including the safety of our staff – not to publicly comment on the matter any further than what is on the record and which actually remains unrefuted.
But of course, things have changed and one of the things that has changed was what happened over the ticket fiasco. Relations between the two clubs were actually pretty low before that; those events made things worse, and there were other issues along the way.
The first of these was when the Ibrox club tried to decapitate the SPFL board over the “Dundee decision”, as some of them like to put it.
That Dundee explained why they changed their vote and that they were only one of a number of clubs who voted to end the 2019-20 season early makes not the slightest bit of difference to those who howl at the moon.
Celtic watched Ibrox’s conduct over those matters with extreme disquiet.
Their club’s public statement that the league must be completed, and in front of full houses, was viewed inside Parkhead as particularly reckless, un-necessarily inflammatory and cynical beyond belief. When the “dodgy dossier” was presented to clubs it was reportedly Lawwell himself who spoke for the room when he described it as “embarrassing.”
In the aftermath of the emergency meeting on the matter, Celtic issued a statement where they called the Ibrox club’s behaviour “irrational” and expressed their conviction that there was not the slightest evidence to justify all the bar rattling.
Our club viewed the short-lived campaign against Murdoch MacLellan, for comments he allegedly made decades ago, in the same way; as a witch-hunt launched by a board which had lost touch with reality and were determinedly looking for a fight.
Doubtless, we view the entire cinch debacle as an extension of those two failed campaigns.
This has further led Celtic to believe that Ibrox is run by unserious people, an impression not made any better by their hiring an Ulster unionist politician as their head of PR, locking out the media, giving press passes to the lunatic fringe and culminating in the Australia controversy. The last straw may even have been the backfiring “Old Firm” stunt at the weekend.
Where all of this has led us to is a place where even Dermot Desmond – who is as restrained in his words as anyone connected with Celtic – is no longer holding back, no longer giving respect and no longer allowing Ibrox to ignore reality.
It has taken a decade, but at last – at long last – the kid-gloves are off.