‘Anyone that says Celtic weren’t going to win the league is lying,’ Steven EBThompson

As the quote goes ‘It’s not denial I’m just selective about the reality I accept’.

Step forward Steven EBThompson, who last night added his voice to the concerted efforts of the blue-tinted press – mainly consisting of ex Ibrox employees – gravely concerned by the impending awarding of Celtic’s ninth consecutive title and the apparent fairness of it.

This without a hint of irony despite EBThompson’s own £485,000 EBT payments – as evidenced also with a touch of irony by his current employer the BBC – when his former club financially doped their way to multiple league titles and domestic trophies.

Thompson told the BBC’s Scottish football podcast:

“Anyone that says Celtic weren’t going to win the league is lying. They were going to win the league. A lot of my friends are Rangers fans and they had given up the ghost. Celtic were going to win the league,” the BBC pundit said.

“But now, if Celtic are given the league Rangers fans won’t accept that, across the board. Universally it won’t be accepted.

“How can you be given a title if you haven’t actually won the title? It’s impossible to award the title to Celtic in those circumstances.

“I knew they were going to win the league but I don’t think you can give a team the title without having played out the season.”

EBThompson does appear to be getting himself tied up in knots here. On one hand he argues anyone but a liar would say Celtic were going to win the league and then conversely states without any weight that you can however deny Celtic the award of that title, when by his own admission it has already been won is a bit of a head scratcher is it not? Probably not.

I wonder if his stance would be the same when talking about Liverpool, Dundee United (his former club in fact) or if he’s aware of the precedents set by Universidad Catolica or Partizan Belgrade. Did Thompson feel the same indignation at the perceived injustice bestowed upon Gent or Charleroi when Club Brugge were awarded the title in Belgium, or is it simply who is getting said title that sticks in his craw? Or what about Paris Saint Germaine being named French Champions last week when their league was called and PSG having a lead over Marseille similar to the advantage Celtic hold over the Rangers?

EBThompson’s other assertion that Rangers fans not accepting the decision would mean it is ‘universally’ disregarded is best ignored or explained away yet again as a former player who hasn’t quite managed to grasp just how insignificant that club now is. A withering plant in Scottish football never mind the footballing universe he proclaims the Ibrox club represent.

The opinion and views of those connected to Ibrox seem to be becoming less relevant and valued with every passing statement, and it is all self-inflicted. Yet EBThompson appears to think they speak for the majority and that their non-acceptance would in any way be significant.

The Mark Twain quote “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt” comes to mind.

Advice it would have been worth taking stock of before driving themselves down the evidence cul-de-sac they clearly have manoeuvred into.

Unprecedented times result in unorthodox solutions and that is simply what we are seeing now. This decision will be reached based on being as fair as possible and in line with the SPFL’s own rule book, with of course the slight bending of knee toward UEFA, to whom lip service must be offered, lest we gamble on European participation when football does resume.

We’ve covered that one at length in previous articles so I won’t bore you with the details yet again, suffice to say Scotland unlike England has provision within their rulebook to end the season and award the title when they see fit. And the clubs with a majority vote of over 80% re-enforced this by voting to give the SPFL Board the authority to call this season as and when they see fit.

When three quarters of a season is played and with a 13 point advantage, then Celtic are deserved champions. When it comes to sporting integrity and ensuring we abide by UEFA direction it is the only option left open.

I have my own concerns over relegation, indeed strong reservations in the instance of Partick Thistle – perhaps the most wronged side when it comes the halting of the lower leagues – and you can but hope league reconstruction will realign some balance to that particular situation.

But the so called universal displeasure of ‘the’ Rangers support or indeed Steven EBThompson will not mean Celtic’s title is diminished in any way, in fact in my own humble opinion it will taste all the sweeter for their ire.

Is it just me or does this peculiar aversion to the awarding of league titles –should games be unable to be concluded – remain exclusive to Scottish football?

I haven’t heard Manchester City complaining or getting their ex pros to join a concerted effort to undermine the provisional victors. In Belgium did Gent shout from the rooftops or accept the result graciously? At home have Inverness thrown toys from their pram, believing there is injustice in Dundee United winning the Championship?

This league is not being halted for the hell of it. It’s a massive public safety issue. It is not a conspiracy to simply annoy one football club. Oh the vanity of it.

There is then the very real threat to the Scottish football league via the survival of the clubs. No-one is getting everything they want from how the league is concluded.

To assume Celtic fans wish to celebrate a ninth consecutive league title for only the second time in our long unbroken history in this way is ludicrous, but a way has to be found.

As with so many bumping their gums in public EBThompson can spot the flaws in the plan – as if the rest are blind to them – while never offering a viable alternative. Identifying problems is the easy part, adopting solutions and implementing them is the bit that comes with the responsibility and financial recompense to match.

‘I think we should just find a way to play the games’ seems to be the cry, yet playing football on another planet has yet to be fully explored. It’s time for living in the reality of it all. And when it comes to Scottish football the reality is Celtic winning 9-in-a-row.

Lennon with his Treble

Could I suggest perhaps some of the media and certain football clubs, may wish to remove their foot from the accelerator when it comes to driving the agenda of ‘the’ Rangers and their – fictitious it would appear – ‘dossier of evidence’ and turn the wheel to support the SPFL in finding a way to conclude matters for this season, one that is now on an EGM enforced life support. Find practical alternatives to reconstruct our leagues and debate them on the podcasts and pages of the daily newspapers. Now is the time to drive that narrative. Read what David Low has to say this morning – the message from the Celtic Trust Chair is that he fears that there could be no football played for A YEAR.

While everyone is arguing about the admittedly flawed but certainly not corrupt SPFL vote, or daring to award titles to Celtic, the real issue of reconstruction and how we plan ahead currently being debated is without scrutiny, or at least the attention to it is miniscule in comparison.

Can we have less blatant toddler tantrums over ‘anyone but Celtic’ and more about saving our game at all costs, it would be more than welcomed. I won’t be holding my breath. I tried that with the ‘dossier of evidence’ and turned a horrible shade of blue.

‘Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance’ are apparently the five stages of waking up. It’s time some in the Scottish press proceeded past the first stage.

Niall J

About Author

As a Bellshill Bhoy I was taken to my first Celtic game in the summer of 1987. It was Billy McNeill’s return to Celtic Park as manager and Celtic lost 5-1 to Arsenal . I thought I was a jinx, I think my Grandfather might have thought the same. It was the finest gift anyone ever gave me when he walked me through Parkhead's gates.

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