Tom English has a bee in his bonnet tonight because a Celtic fan, at the Celtic AGM, asked the club a question about the club across the city. Specifically, he asked what year that club was founded.
Some people in our own support rolled their eyes.
Many think this is a tiresome debate. But it isn’t a tiresome debate at all.
This is a critical issue.
What does it have to do with English that a Celtic shareholder asked his directors, on the one chance he gets to do so in a calendar year, a question which he believes has a material impact on our club?
He has a right to ask that question, and English’s arsey attitude is rooted in his own gutless failure to ask the same one in the grander context of the game here. Which, by the way, is his job.
My only disagreement with the guy is that he obviously hasn’t listened to the club on this.
Celtic’s position on this is crystal clear and it has been for a long time.
Our club’s position on this is not in the slightest doubt.
We have addressed it in so many ways. We did so publicly and fulsomely and without equivocation in 2012. We have done it on several occasions since in official statements and communiques. And the oblique references to it are so numerous that to chart them would take more than an article, it would take a book.
Our tagline, “One Club Since 1888” is an undisguised statement on it.
My problem here with English is that he is attacking the question as if it was some kind of utter irrelevance.
He still wants to paint this as some sort of fringe belief.
But that’s not the case at all.
Our club are amongst the only people in the country who have maintained a consistent position on this and have not shifted from it one iota. Celtic considers them a new club, found in 2012, and the only way we could make that clearer would be to project it onto the walls.
I have said before that Celtic should make a definitive, up to date, statement on this.
But the truth is, in all the ways that matter we already do.
The very public and prominent way in which we went about promoting the Australia tour and told the organisers, and Ibrox, that “Old Firm” branding was unacceptable – which, in turn, led to their club’s stroppy withdrawal and their pitiful PR stunt for our last visit there – offers a clear demonstration of what our view is.
I have no issue with the guy asking that question though and nor should anyone else.
It never hurts for our club to make it plain where it stands on this, even if we do it repeatedly in various ways. I do mind English and others sneering at it, because what it shows to me is their own basic moral failure on the matter.
As far as many of us are concerned, much of Scottish football is engaged in lying to itself.
I really don’t care that Ibrox lies to itself and that some in the press are happy for them to do so.
But don’t ask us to participate in the charade.
If you are a hack who knows the truth of this – and they all do, whether they want to admit that or not – then you can maintain your gutless silence as long as it suits you; when you start taking shots at those of us who are willing to call it a fiction … well, you better come to the debate with your guns loaded and your facts in hand.
I know what English’s answer to that would be; why do we care?
I am continuously appalled at having to explain this. Appalled.
When did it become a radical proposition to demand that our national sport be viewed through the prism of truth instead of fiction?
When did it become wrong to insist that our press and football authorities deal in facts instead of continuing to push an obvious and thoroughly discredited fraud?
Let me spell it out to English and anyone else who still needs this explaining; we have two choices here. We either call this out for what it is, every chance we get – as Celtic does, in many different ways – or we allow the game here to be dominated by a lie, and that in turn will allow other lies to proliferate and take hold.
Anyone who thinks that has nothing to do with us is howling at the moon.
I realise that a lot of people are more interested in an easy life than in confronting that lie, and that others simply lack the capacity for understanding why that matters … but I know who is on the right side of this, and I know that people like English are on the wrong one.
For a layperson that would be bad enough.
But he works for the national broadcaster and that makes his position on it unconscionable.