As the SFA finally find time in their busy administrative schedule to deal with one of the instances of “excessive misconduct” perpetrated in the name of Celticfootballclub, perhaps we are hoping for too much to expect this to be the first round in the drive to return sanity to Scottish football.
Lennon’s antics at Tynecastle were first the subject of an automatic two-match ban for being sent to the stand (against which the Club appealed) before the more serious nature of his “excessive conduct” was considered, bringing with it an additional four-match holiday.
Already, we have talk of appeal against the punishment. The first appeal was frivolous and insulting. Goodness only knows what may happen when the comments of Gary Hooper come up for reward by the beaks, or when, as seems likely, they get round to the other alleged offences still hanging over the Celtic manager, including his post-match Tynecastle comments. Perhaps, as some of their cheerleaders have demanded, they may call for more SFA changes, a repeal of the Act of Settlement and, while they are at it, perhaps announce their intent to leave the SPL?
All very grubby: the reek of the persecution complex at its worst. But what, you may rightly ask, is the end game for Celtic?
Well, despite the comedic rants and paranoiac symptoms of fans, bearded men with laptops and perhaps the odd Baptist, there is no future for Celtic outside the SPL without one key ingredient: Rangers Football Club.
Despite years of concentrated and devoted service in the black arts of darkening the name of Rangers and playing ‘love us, you all love us’ it is as evident now as ever that the hopes and dreams of life outwith the SPL confines are no closer. Furthermore, there is no prospect of any Atlantic, European or EPL extension – nor would access to any such division be extended to only one of the Glasgow clubs, far less the second-placed side who shamed the co-efficient in Europe.
It’s interesting that today’s rent-a-quote striving to uphold the good name of Celtic and Lennon is David Hay. Hay, you may recall, took the huff big Timmy style after league cup final defeat and spoke of his never fairly defeated club having to leave Scottish football. You may be forgiven for thinking there’s a pattern here in danger of emerging. Why, just the other month we had the Lisbon Lion Legend Billy McNeill telling us that refs have been cheating Celtic for fifty years – yes, even through Celtic’s NIAR success. Clearly, the Masons were as incompetent then as the SFA brigade have been when it comes to giving Rangers a home draw against Celtic – yesterday’s is the first since LBJ was President and breaks a run of six successive home draws in these games for Celtic, not including the toss of a coin Semi.
The funniest part of all this is actually the most worrying – we are supposed to take these grievances seriously and accept the opinions of these people as if they are worthy of consideration. Lennon spoke with CEO Lawwell at a close season Celtic supporters rally in Ireland and gave notice of his intention to be aggressive and highlighted his previous actions as caretaker as an indicator of the ‘in-your-face’ attitude that would prevail at Parkhead. His constant run-ins with authority – and the number of games where he has been sent to the stands, spoken to by officials and offered post-match comments which run the risk of a disrepute charge now struggle to be counted on one normal hand – are deliberate: and are club-sanctioned. Reid, Hooper and Lennon have all been guilty of behaviour that brings the game into disrepute. It’s all part of a bigger fight, where Celtic believe they can do what they want, say what they like, and when the inevitable consequences arrive play the persecution card to escape proper punishment.
The worrying thing for the rest of Scottish football is that it may succeed, at last partly. The SFA chief executive officer Stewart Regan is a business acquaintance of Lawwell and has already offered enough in the way of bizarre statements on sectarianism and confusing messages of intent to suggest he is of no real use in this battle. The SFA are in obvious trouble due to the sloppy nature of the Dougie McDonald affair, but with pressure growing over the Dallas email malarkey, reinstatements and possible legal actions, this could all very quickly become much worse and re-open barely covered wounds.
The buzzwords and catchphrases the wider Celtic family seem interested in:
‘Transparency’ - with regard to SFA decisions (no bans for abuse of officials).
The right of ‘Clarification’- with regard to every single decision given fairly and honestly against Celtic (every decision they don’t like questioned and referees intimidated to the point they cheat in favour of Celtic).
From there, you wouldn’t be shocked if one of the cheerleaders of Christian charity at Celtic Park slipped in a mention of ‘Parity of Esteem’.
If Celtic’s aim is to be given the right to freely abuse and intimidate officials and governing bodies without censure, to become an institution over and above the local and international law (perhaps like the one brought about by the Lateran Treaty?) and to persistently and permanently present nothing but paranoia and potato chip dossiers as evidence for their right to be treated as a special case then they should be encouraged in their dreaming.
Encouraged to leave Scottish football; encouraged to fulfil the romantic notions and ideals of their founders, and dig up a piece of their pitch and follow their hearts to their spiritual home.
Back in reality, they must be made an example of and for all the pressure on out-of-date committee structures and Chief Executives who owe their position to previous business links with East End Machiavelli wannabes, the club would do well to remember that the other member clubs of the SPL, and those in Scottish football in general, will be the ones who punish them on the park and in the deals.