For some people at Celtic, the last 24 hours must be a source of enormous frustration as one of the stupidest ideas in the recent history of a club that has had a ton of them collapsed around them.
It was the height of recklessness, the summit of folly, to climb into bed with that club on any sort of commercial deal. Their past behaviour should have told us that.
This blog was able to predict, with uncanny accuracy, that the Ibrox board would feel the heat from their fans and whilst I didn’t expect it to lead to them withdrawing I did raise that as a serious possibility, even after they had trumpeted the cash on offer.
I did warn that their previous behaviour made it more than possible.
Are people at Celtic stupid or what?
They always get such praise for being smart, but the warning signs were blinking on this one and Ibrox pulling the plug could never be ruled out completely. A lot of us were able to see that Celtic were absolute mugs for believing that they could be trusted.
Ask Hummel. Ask Ashley.
Ask the Takeover Panel of the City of London.
Ask Puma. Ask the firm that were contracted to build the Ibrox Memorial Garden.
Ask cinch and the SPFL.
And so for believing that they could be taken at the word, for believing that a signed contract was some kind of guarantee with them, we pay a price. Hopefully not a financial one.
If anyone wants to offer their resignation over it, that should be accepted.
If no-one does, we might want to consider firing somebody for putting a plan together which depended on the integrity of people who have none and which flew in the face of the wishes of the club’s own paying customers at home.
Ibrox has given us a severe lesson here.
It is certainly one that those at Celtic Park will forget at their own peril.
The idea of playing a “friendly” with Ibrox abroad is surely dead now and forever.
Nobody is going to pay big money to organise such a game, because of what Ibrox has just done here. That affects them more than it affects us, but there will be much whinging and wailing in parts of Celtic Park as a result of it too.
Their club will not attempt this again. Ours can’t.
The only way the club could have flogged this to the fan-base was on the back of Ange’s sterling reputation. They hid behind him in order to sell this bill of goods, and that was a one-time thing and it’s over with.
The only reason there wasn’t widespread fury amongst our fans was that few wanted to disrupt Ange’s homecoming and the organisers had made it clear that this is how it would be marketed.
Any effort to market the game on its own merits – when the idea has none – would have caused a firestorm.
The board has no idea how close to that they came.
Ironically, one of the reasons this collapsed was our board’s colossal miscalculation about the importance of the Old Firm brand to the club across the city.
This, too, is something that this blog has spelled out over and over and over again and our board has apparently failed to understand it. The Ibrox club are the ones who benefit from the promotion of this rivalry. It elevates them even as it drags us down … but it depends, entirely, on their being able to market the fixture in the desired fashion.
Without being able to call it an “Old Firm match” their club can’t properly benefit from it in terms of selling their global brand.
To those who are interested in them for this reason, the clubs come as a pair or not at all. If one club isn’t fully on board, in every sense, there’s no point in trying to sell the idea itself.
It is Celtic, more even than them, who have driven the final nail into the coffin of this despicable concept, by refusing to allow this … and I know that was not our intention.
Their fans have made it plain that they don’t want their club playing us, period.
But when we refuse to even use their preferred terminology – and let’s face it, our board doing that is the final line in the sand for almost all of us – their club certainly can’t sell it.
So it’s Celtic who killed this idea, although I’m certain we did not foresee that outcome any more than the board ever thought Ibrox’s fans might prevail on them to take another stupid, irreversible course of action, although they already did this over tickets.
Our board seems to have thought they could arrange an “Old Firm” game without calling it one; any one of us could have told them Ibrox’s fans would never swallow that and it would stick in the craw of their commercial department as well.
Now Ibrox will mark it down as their own red-line in future negotiations, and since our club could not even countenance such a thing, it is that, more than anything else, which kills this idea stone dead.
And not before time.