House of Cards
Celtic FC call a press conference to unveil the biggest kit sponsorship deal in the history of Scottish football and the mental midgets of our parochial and often pathetic media waste no time in hijacking it and turning it into cheap headlines about Irish Republicanism and flares at football matches. Among the questions put to Mr Lawwell on the day of some seriously good financial news for the club were…
‘Is it a concern that an Irish Republican identity could be criminalised in Scotland, this being something connected to Celtic’s history. Is that a concern?’
‘Does Irish Republicanism have a future in Celtic’s history?’
‘Do you welcome people who want to champion an Irish Republican Identity?’
This is how the Scottish media turn a good news day for Celtic into a day of controversy and one can only wonder what our new sponsors thought of it all. The club was recently ranked third among the top clubs in Europe in terms of credit worthiness and financial well-being. Given that Celtic operate in the low income market of Scottish football, to run such a tight ship and still be able to make it to the Champions’ League group stages on a good few occasions over the past 15 years is commendable. The club has also made it to the last 16 on three occasions which is a considerable achievement given the current financial disparity between the big leagues and the SPFL. The club’s failure to make the Champions’ League group stages this season will undoubtedly hit the bottom line but their six monthly Report in December 2014 stated that the club made over £6m profit and have over £5m in the bank. Peter Lawwell knows Celtic may not make the group stages every year and plans for this. Whatever your thoughts on his comments about Republicanism and Celtic FC you cannot deny the solid job he has done with regards to Celtic’s finances. Despite all of this good news, our media chooses to focuss on what are in effect minor issues on the periphery of the club. You have to wonder why this is?
I have yet to see any Rangers Officials being grilled about the continuing and disgraceful bigoted chanting coming from a large section of their support. As Peter Lawwell pointed out to the hapless Reporter, ‘We had 3100 fans in Milan and two flares.’ Rangers had over 20,000 at the recent Semi Final with Celtic and literally thousands of them chanted about paedophilia, Jimmy Saville, the Pope, Fenian blood, etc. I remain mystified at the continued search for negatives in our media when it comes to Celtic. All of my life I’ve noticed the negative headlines even when Celtic are successful. From our best players ‘Wanting away’ to others players being ‘Thugs and Thieves’ we have lived with a tabloid press which is often bereft of any shred of integrity.
So why the negative spin on Celtic stories? There was some enlightening information about the Scottish media’s culture in recent years from Alex Thomson of Chanel 4 News. He began investigating the financial chicanery at Rangers in 2012 and noted that the local media were often far from helpful…
‘What I didn’t expect were the insults (and in at least one case a direct physical threat) not from fans but from Scottish journalists. Sarajevo, Mogadishu, Kabul, Islamabad, Tripoli, Baghdad…I could bore you with more – in none of these places have I ever got this interesting reaction from local journalists, only in Glasgow. So something’s up. Something’s different. Something about asking questions about RFC clearly angers some in the Glasgow media in a way I’ve never seen in 25 years of global reporting.’
Of course there were many decent Journalists who warned him what to expect and his colleague Graham Spiers gave a hint about why the local sports media culture was like this when he said…
“Succulent lamb journalism means a culture – and I hold my hand up here too – a culture of sycophantic, unquestioning, puff journalism that went on around Rangers generally and Sir David Murray particularly. Of course you’ll see it to some degree across sport, across football. But it was, many Glasgow journalists say, more damaging here. Look, you are making a pact with the devil if you like. You get thrown the best scraps. You get something for the back page or whatever. But there’s a tacit deal. You don’t dig too deep. You don’t cause any trouble.”
Of course we who favour the green side of Glasgow have always known that Rangers have had an easy ride historically. We’ve seen it over the sectarianism at the club which broke every sporting and moral code and yet was barely mentioned by the media or indeed SFA for many decades. We saw it during the Murray era when few questioned the huge debt the club was building up until the house of cards collapsed. We saw it when the ‘Billionaire with off the wealth radar’ took over. Such nonsense could have been dispelled by a quick search on google about Craig Whyte’s chequered business past but nobody in the press could be bothered carrying out such rudimentary research. We are now seeing it again with the embarrassing u-turn on the death of Rangers perhaps spurred by the downturn in sales when Bears stopped buying their papers.
Peter Lawwell was being his usual polite and accommodating self to the media during the press conference on the new sponsorship deal. A few of us no doubt watched the footage online and were willing him to say something like...
‘Look pal we’re here to talk about good news for Celtic Football Club and indeed Scottish football, if you’re looking for cheap negative headlines why not head over to Ibrox where a convicted tax evader is all set to take over a club. Address your questions to the issue we’re here to discuss or I’ll have a Steward show you the door.’
Of course a man in his position has to be careful what he says to the media. We wouldn’t want them falling out with Celtic and putting a negative spin on their stories about the club would we?