One of the most repellent suggestions I have seen for our club in years is trending tonight, although it cannot remotely be taken seriously. Or, at least, you’d hope not.
I do know that few at the club itself will find much merit in it, although the talking heads will have a field day debating whether or not it could happen.
The idea – promoted by some guy none us has ever heard of; Mohammed Hamdi, a self-described “expert in Middle East football”, and formerly of Den Haag – is that we should consider some sort of hook-up with a top Saudi side.
In effect, when you listen to what he’s “proposing”, we should essentially become their feeder club.
Few ideas could more readily make me physically throw up.
The idea is appalling, on every level, not least of which that we should consider this on the proviso that we can have first dibs on the “best young Saudi talent.” Uhuh. Why not plug us into something more useless, like opening a Celtic shop on Mars? The best Saudi talent? Is that a joke?
I looked this up online; only a handful of their footballers has ever left the country. Their league is a joke, but one they’re trying to boost with expensive foreign players.
If their domestic footballers were as good as those produced in Africa and Asia such an idea might have slightly more cachet, except of course when you consider how disgusting it is.
If our club ever became a partner of any sort, in any manner, with a Saudi state owned team, Brother Walfrid would turn in his grave and I would move on and I’d have the choice to either become a full-on rebel devoted to nothing else but bringing down the board which did it, or I’d need to find something different to devote my life to, because my relationship with Celtic would be at an end. I could not simply pretend it didn’t matter.
I couldn’t do what Newcastle fans are doing, and embracing this as if these people were messiahs and not using their club as a political pawn. To accept them as owners is to accept who and what they are and the regime they represent.
Here’s what that looks like: Amnesty lists ten ways in which the Saudis violate human rights.
They do not allow freedom of expression or protest.
They permit torture.
They have the death penalty.
There is discrimination – too generous a word, but it’ll do for now – against women.
Their police force is a law unto itself and doesn’t consider suspects to have rights.
You can be arrested and detained on no evidence, and with no just cause, whatsoever.
There is discrimination according to religion, with minorities frequent targets of the authorities.
They have mistreated and even deported migrant workers for no reason at all, and with no recourse to appeal.
They do not allow humanitarian or human rights organisations to set up in the country, meaning that there are probably more violations and more abuses going on than we know.
That’s what the guy formerly of Den Haag thinks we should be strapping ourselves to.
As a means of ripping our club into pieces, it would be hard to come up with something better. As a practical move towards a stronger team it is of highly dubious merit.
And those are just the first two arguments against it that I can come up with off the top of my head.
It is an offensive suggestion and I am heartened by the knowledge that no-one at Celtic would for a minute even contemplate such a dire, regressive backwards step.