Yesterday, in his shambolic, rambling media interview after the Celtic game, in which he claimed the gap isn’t that big (9 before the game 12 after it) and that he was pleased with his team (although they got beat), The Mooch threw something else in there.
“That was my 16th derby and I never seen it how it used to be (with the traditional allocation of 7,000 briefs to the visitors),” he said, once again talking as if he was the manager all the way through the Gerrard seasons.
“I’m not the decision-maker, I’m not in and around it. I’m led to believe it was a call from Celtic why there were no away fans between now and the end of the season. That’s what I’m led to believe, from when I asked the question.”
I wonder exactly who he asked the question to?
The same people, one would presume, who briefed their hyper-gullible fan reps and told them the same barefaced lie.
The thing is, this is a very easy one to get to the bottom of.
The accusation that Celtic banned their fans falls down the second you ask two questions, which apparently is too taxing for their bloggers to do and too simple for The Mooch to consider.
First, why now? They had fans at the opening league game at Parkhead and we had fans at Ibrox. So why would that be different for the last two games?
Secondly, how could we “ban” their fans and take that decision independently of them when the SFA regulations explicitly state that “reasonable” measures be taken to give away fans an allocation for any league game?
Clubs cannot ban away fans. Away clubs have a right to representation at matches.
It’s a fundamental of football and one that if it didn’t exist would result in games being played in front of home fans only every time clubs thought there was the slightest advantage to be gained from it.
There are only two circumstances in which clubs would ever tolerate that situation.
If they were banned – legitimately banned, by the governing bodies – from having away fans or if they just didn’t want any.
Ibrox fans were not banned from Celtic Park yesterday.
We don’t have that power, and they were not under any sanction.
One Ibrox fan blog tried to claim that we had defied the SFA regulations yesterday, as if daring them to punish us.
If we had, why is their own club not publicly protesting?
Why did the SFA not immediately announce that if Celtic stopped away fans from attending that we’d be punished?
The decision was made weeks ago. So where were the twin outcries from Ibrox and Hampden? There weren’t any, and the very absence of those complaints tells you, clearly, that no such thing took place. We did not ban anybody.
I understand Ibrox fans sites writing this tripe.
They believe everything that comes out of that club, no matter how deranged, deluded or ridiculous.
But The Mooch trotting out the same tired line?
That tells you something.
That tells you that the board over there isn’t even above lying to their own manager and making him look like a mug.
Nobody in the press corps has contradicted those remarks, but everyone in the media must know what the regulations say and, indeed, they’ve spent many weeks now repeating the line which they were given by the club which was that this was a “joint decision” based on the safety of supporters.
That’s not true either, of course, but it contains at least of kernel of fact in that Celtic, at least, turned down tickets on that basis.
So they have to know that when The Mooch said that yesterday that he was claiming that the club has told him something entirely different from what they’ve been feeding the press … and whether they want to acknowledge it or not, that’s a news story.
Because when the club is telling the media one thing and it’s telling its fan reps and its own manager something entirely different, then how can either party trust a word of any of it?
Celtic has kept its powder dry on the matter, but any hack who wants to know the facts can contact the club and get the truth, which this blog and others have been writing.
But in this case they don’t even have to take our word for it.
There are two flatly contradictory stories about this in the public sphere now, and the Ibrox club is responsible for both of them. The media doesn’t even have to do any digging.
The Mooch was clear that his information on why no Ibrox fans were at the game yesterday came from people inside the club. The same people have told the media an entirely different version of events.
So this isn’t Celtic sites gilding the lily or stirring the soup here … this one is pretty cut and dried. Ibrox is lying. Are they lying to only one group of people or to everyone?
We all know the answer, and increasingly the media must be realising it as well.
But feeding the manager a transparent fiction, when he then looks like a fool repeating to the press?
That’s something else entirely.
It makes you wonder what other lies they are telling him, doesn’t it?