Yesterday, a couple of people flagged a tweet from a hack who had suggested that Matt O’Riley’s agent has already been contacted by a number of clubs about the summer.
That got my hackles up, because there’s a word for that and it’s one of the worst words in the game; tapping. It’s an illegitimate approach, and if it’s true we should be concerned.
Establishing facts about this stuff is difficult to do. We’ll never know where the hack in question got it, or whether he simply made it up.
The agents themselves will never publicly admit it and nor will the clubs who are involved. But Celtic’s contacts will know and that means that the club will know, and although I don’t expect a big public strop we can’t just let it go.
I would expect that we’d be doing some hell raising over it behind the scenes.
We all know this stuff goes on in football. Hell, our club has probably engaged in a wee bit of it ourselves down through the years, but it’s not a practice we should be involved in and I hate the idea that it has happened to us.
It unsettles players. It creates tension between the player and the club.
It allows some of the more unscrupulous agents to make mischief behind the scenes.
That so much of it goes on tells you how many clubs are in on the act, because if this was a tiny number of teams who were involved in it you can bet that the practice would end quickly.
That doesn’t mean that we should like it, or accept it, if and when it happens to us. There is no doubt in my mind that teams are interested in O’Riley, and that there will be big offers to come.
This is why we have to protect him as a bankable asset.
If clubs are chancing their arm here we should get aggressive over it, because it’s important when this guy does get those offers that teams who want him know they are going to have to pay big money to do it.