The news that the dates for the Asian Cup are now fixed brings with it a complication which comes as no surprise whatsoever to the bulk of the Celtic support. We can read a calendar. We are well aware that the Asian Cup is due to take place later this year and we are well aware that at least seven of our players are eligible to take part in it.
The near certainty that all three of our forwards – Maeda, Kyogo and Oh – will be gone for that competition and that Hatate and Mooy are virtually assured to be, is not something that comes as any great surprise. Celtic knows this. Ange knows this.
So of course, we’ll have given consideration to what action we might take in that eventuality. We may sign another striker in the summer, explicitly with this in mind.
I would not be surprised if we did just that. At a push we could play Abada or Jota or Haksabanovic up front. Or we could, as the rules allow, request postponements for those games.
It is the suggestion – made by the media itself – that we might do this which has sparked at least one nonsensical headline and will almost certainly inspire more of them; “Celtic could be without SEVEN players during Asian Cup but Ange Postecoglou could trigger SPFL loophole”.
That’s from Football Scotland and right away my resentment of these people bubbles over. Loophole? You mean, something that’s in the rules explicitly for this purpose, something that every club has a right to use, something that has been used before?
What kind of language is that?
Language designed to frame the debate over any such request from us in as negative a light as possible.
But of course, it’s not a loophole at all.
It’s a reflection of two global realities which I guess some would rather didn’t exist.
The first is that players at UK clubs come from all over the world, not just Europe, and we suspend all domestic football to accommodate European players on their international travels.
Isn’t it racist not to extend the same courtesy to players from outside this continent?
The second is that clubs signing players from outside the European leagues, and especially ones like ours, increase the profile of our game in Asia and elsewhere, and since Celtic signed these guys the profile of Scottish football itself has skyrocketed over there and that has brought benefits, including money, to other clubs in this league.
So we’d have some balls to start putting up barricades against those clubs who enhance our global footprint.
But I guess neither of those things filtered through to the goon who wrote that headline.
Loophole, for God’s sake.
What a snide and bitter word that is. It’s time some of these people started to realise that Celtic’s signing policy doesn’t just benefit our club.
If we decide to request those postponements there will be wailing and whinging from the Usual Suspects, but their opposition will be based on bias and bigotry, and will amount to a complete rejection of common sense, and as true as that is as you can see it’s started already.