Why Celtic Fans Have Reason To Feel “The World Is Against Them”

Former Rangers striker Kris Boyd has accused Ange Postecoglou of “playing up to the Celtic support, who feel the world is against them.” Those remarks are none too surprising from someone who played for a club that used EBTs to win trophies, prior to their liquidation in 2012. However, Boyd’s comment taps into a sentiment that is shared by some fans of other clubs in Scotland too. Even Andy Walker was desperate to claim that he experienced poor decisions while playing for Motherwell and Raith Rovers, as if that negates the reasons behind the suspicion that the Celtic faithful, and many former players/managers, have in regard to the football establishment.

Decisions can, and will, forever be put down as honest mistakes. They can even be debated as there is a degree of subjectivity. So, ignoring the bizarre series of decisions – highlighted even more since VAR was introduced – let’s focus on the proven/factual events which have led to a sense of distrust that the likes of Boyd call “feeling like the world is against them”.

Mental gymnastics can be performed to excuse record breaking legends of the game being overlooked when it came to national team selection. Indeed, Celtic icons were historically handed a pathetic number of caps from James McGrory, Alec McNair and Joe Dodds to the Lisbon Lions. What cannot be overlooked is that the governing body tried to make Celtic take the Irish tricolour down from Celtic Park and threatened the club with expulsion from the League if they refused to do so. That same governing body also stayed silent whilst a Scottish club operated a sectarian signing/employment policy against Catholics for at least half a century.

In terms of more direct suspicion surrounding on pitch matters, the former Head of Referee Development Hugh Dallas left the SFA after being disgraced when he was caught sending anti-Catholic emails, including a paedophile slur against the Pope. Dallas was once a referee himself.

A month prior to Hugh Dallas’ email scandal, we had Dougie gate. On that occasion, Scottish referee Dougie McDonald was forced to resign after his lies were exposed by one of his colleagues Steven Craven. Dougie McDonald was said to have lied to Hoops boss Neil Lennon about his sensational penalty U-turn at Tannadice, when Gary Hooper was fouled in the box. Both Craven and McDonald came clean to Referees chief Hugh Dallas, and Dallas allegedly tried TWICE to get Craven to repeat what he knew to be a lie.

If we cast our minds back a little further, Jim Farry was proven to have deliberately and illegally blocked Jorge Cadete’s registration. This had a potentially huge bearing on the title race that season. Fergus McCann took Farry, Scottish Football Association Chief Executive, to court and the latter was sacked following the verdict.

The 1990s threw up another interesting event, when during the re-development of Hampden, Celtic were drawn to play Rangers in the League Cup. It was decided that a toss of the coin would determine the venue. The toss was duly carried out live on TV, only for Celtic to win. As Celtic fans started to celebrate getting the game at Parkhead, it was then stated that the first toss was to decide who should call the call the toss in a best of three scenario, which hadn’t been mentioned before or during the process, and, inevitably, Rangers won it, staged the game at Ibrox and went on to lift the cup later that season.

Refocusing on contemporary times, the likes of Kenny Clark have appeared on the after dinner circuit to joke about making wrong decisions against Celtic. Meanwhile, other former referees such as Mike McCurry have been invited as guests on Rangers podcasts. All this merely feeds the “feeling that the world is against them (Celtic)”, or perhaps that something could be awry.

At two minutes into the video below, Clark describes an incident with John Hartson after the Celtic striker successfully appealed against a red card given by the referee in a match against the old Rangers. After mentioning the incident in the dressing room before the next Celtic game that he took charge of, Clark jokes about how he refused to punish a Dundee United player who took out the Welshman with a poor tackle from behind.

The above factual, suspicion inducing events, come before any consideration of subjective decisions or statistical anomalies on things like penalties.

That’s why Celtic fans, rightly or wrongly, have a distrust of the establishment. This doesn’t mean that Scottish football is necessarily corrupt, nor am I making such a claim, but let’s not pretend that there are no reasons behind the ‘paranoia’.

About Author

Hailing from an Irish background, I grew up on the English south coast with the good fortune to begin watching Celtic during the Martin O'Neill era. I have written four Celtic books since the age of 19: Our Stories & Our Songs: The Celtic Support, Take Me To Your Paradise: A History Of Celtic-Related Incidents & Events, Walfrid & The Bould Bhoys: Celtic's Founding Fathers, First Season & Early Stars, and The Holy Grounds of Glasgow Celtic: A Guide To Celtic Landmarks & Sites Of Interest. These were previously sold in Waterstones and official Celtic FC stores, and are now available on Amazon.


  1. It does mean it is corrupt!
    Referees open on the circuit laughing about it?
    Don’t be so soft.

  2. Its disgusting. We should be taking it up with UEFA as its plain and simple discrimination against us and every other team in this country that faces them.