Let me make a confession here before we start.
Back in the sands of time, when Scottish football’s TV deal was divided between Sky and BT Sport, I wrote a piece saying that Sky’s coverage was vastly superior and more professional. Scottish football coverage, on BT Sport, was all about “dumbing down.” You could see that in the quality of their pundits and in the way they built up games.
Then one of our regular writers, Gavin McCann, wrote a counter piece saying that in his view BT Sport were far superior. In that piece he offered a full accounting as to why, and as I was preparing it for publication something dawned on me; he’d made such a compelling case that I found that I agreed with it. I re-evaluated my own understanding of BT Sport and saw immediately that they had chosen a team who cared passionately about the game.
Sky Sports, for want of a better expression, don’t really give a shit. They regard Scottish football as a bit of an afterthought, which is reflected in their contemptible treatment of it in the last few years, not to mention that they employ the odious Kris Boyd on several fronts now which, frankly, just embarrasses our national sport.
It should come as no surprise that the best show on pay television on Scottish sport is to be found on BT. It does surprise me that it amounts to little more than Chris Sutton and Ally McCoist slagging each other stupid. But amidst the cartoonish nature of it are serious discussions about Scottish football from two guys who understand the game here and want to promote it. The real surprise is that McCoist appears capable of being objective.
So when they discussed the ongoing ticketing “debate” between Celtic and Ibrox they kept it pretty much focussed on the need for a solution. But like so many of these debates, we ended up in the classic impasse with the tired old “both sides are bad as the other” stuff. Both sides have to get around the table. Both sides have to stop being daft.
This isn’t about “both sides” though. Celtic did not do this, and I can repeat that until I’m blue in the face and some people still don’t want to see it. When the Ibrox fan sites started to push the idea that fans should be restricted Celtic told their club what would happen if they cut our allocation. It was known. It was virtually automatic.
It was the Ibrox club who drove this matter, and then to cap it they removed our allocation entirely for earlier in the season. Celtic has attempted to resolve this and has asked for meetings to do so and each and every time we have they have been rebuffed.
It is not down to Celtic to fix this. We can’t. We didn’t start it and we are the club who are actively standing in the way of a solution.
It seems that what some people really want is for us to restore their allocation in full and hope – hope, against logic or precedent – that it melts their collective hearts enough for them to restore ours. But as Harvey Keitel witheringly tells Sly Stallone in Cop Land “Now you come to me with a plan, to set things right. Everyone … holding hands, singing “We Are the World.” That’s very nice, but … your plan is the plan of a boy! You read it on the back of a matchbox, without thinking! Without looking at the cards!”
Nobody genuinely believes that if we moved to do this that they would respond favourably in any way, shape or form. This is the club who can’t be trusted even when there’s a signed contract which commits them to a course of action.