I would just to take this opportunity to wish the eternally patient readers of this increasingly intermittent blog a very happy New Year.
Personally, The Clumpany goes into the New Year feeling somewhat downbeat.
Heaven knows what 2019 is going to bring. The looming spectre of Brexit seems like a particularly dangerous and unnecessary leap into the dark/ abyss, which could have all manner of highly unfortunate consequences.
Then again it might deliver a bright new future with jam for tea for everyone.
From a footballing perspective, Celtic’s erratic form is a worry. Especially as some of it is self-inflicted courtesy of a very poor approach to transfers over the summer. And of course, as I explained previously, no one can ever be happy about losing a game to the sporting and societal embarrassment that is Sevco FC.
However, such concerns can be easily offset by Celtic’s unprecedented run of trophy winning success over the past two years, the club’s position at the top of the league, the prospect of post-Christmas European football, and the opportunity to put things right in the January transfer window.
No, the reason I feel a bit downbeat about football at the moment is the intensifying barrage of paedophile-related f*ckwittery that can be seen and heard in Premiership grounds and across all social media platforms. Notably in places where Sevco fans happen to be in attendance.
I’ve made my views about this issue very clear on previous occasions, most comprehensively in the below blog, where I stated without ambiguity that anyone responsible for child abuse or for covering it up should be brought before the courts and subjected to due process. No ifs, no buts, and no excuses.
No one in their right mind could argue with the sentiments of that piece.
However, folk with few morals and no respect for other people still often think it is hilarious to ignore the feelings of victims and their families, and to forget about the right of people to a fair trial.
What sort of absolute scum spends their free time making a banner to point-score about child abuse, and to attack a dead man who never faced sanctions and who obviously cannot defend himself? How disgusting would you have to be to use people’s suffering as a means of making a jibe?
You can imagine such roasters arriving home after a game:
Billie: “Hi Billy. How was the match?”
Billy: “Brilliant love. Trampled all over the memory of a dead man, upset his living relatives and hopefully gave some child abuse victims flashbacks!”
Billie: “Sounds great Billy? What was the score?”
Billy: “No idea Billie. But I put the tarrier paedo filth in their place with my banner!”
Is there any hope for these people? Or for a better atmosphere at games? [NB Yes I know that no fan base is perfect – to put it mildly. And there is (for example) a list of songs sung by Celtic supporters that the game could do without hearing again.]
I don’t hold out much hope.
Nor do I expect the scourge of anti-Irish racism to disappear from our game any time soon.
It increasingly seems that songs about ‘going home’ and ‘Fenian blood’ can be sung by large numbers of people with impunity and with little or no resulting condemnation from those who really ought to know better.
Strict liability would be one way of combatting anti-Irish racism in Scottish football. Assuming that those designing and enforcing the rules could agree that anti-Irish racism exists, and then had acute enough hearing to actually notice it being sung by thousands of people.
[*Pause for tumbleweed*]
However, as I have said before, I see no point in trying to impose strict liability in Scottish football until such time as we can be confident that it would be enforced consistently. Sadly, even a cursory look at player disciplinary cases and still-recent innovations such as ‘conditional membership’ and ‘imperfect registration’ suggest that the rule book in Scottish football can be a highly moveable feast.
In that context, why on Earth should clubs put more power to selectively impose sanctions in the hands of the authorities at Hampden?
However even if we don’t have strict liability, anti-Irish racism can still be identified, called out and addressed by individual clubs, politicians, the police, the press, and those who have publicly taken it upon themselves to combat racism in football.
All of these groups have questions to answer about their approach to anti-Irish racism and I encourage you to ask them about it when you get the opportunity.
On which note, I see there has been a good deal of online commentary of late about the position of Show Racism The Red Card Scotland in relation to anti-Irish racism (as opposed to other forms of racism). As such I will sign off by restating the questions that I asked of them on Twitter yesterday:
I wish you all the very best for 2019. May your Buckie always come with bleach.
Happy New Year!