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Richard Gordon column: Football chiefs turned blind eye to Celtic trip while putting lower leagues into cold storage

Hampden Park, home of the SFA and SPFL
Hampden Park, home of the SFA and SPFL

It took three months, but we finally got a resolution this week in the saga involving Kilmarnock and St Mirren and their appeals against the sentences meted out by the SPFL.

When the 3-0 forfeits were originally imposed, I felt that the clubs, having admitted breaches, should just accept them and move on, but as further information came to light, and other incidents occurred, my view changed, and the decision announced last night by the Scottish FA panel was the correct one.

Those in charge at the SPFL will also be breathing a sigh of relief.

With the likelihood of further requests to postpone matches as a result of Covid outbreaks – Raith Rovers being the first – the authorities were stumbling into a minefield, and now the way is clear for them to announce punishments which actually fit the crime.

Compare the stance taken here in Scotland to that south of the border where League Two side Grimsby Town admitted breaches of protocols and were handed a suspended fine of £4,880 by the EFL. Those lapses had led to three matches being postponed last September; the penalty imposed highlighted the more empathetic and supportive approach taken by the English football authorities.

It has been a bad week for the game generally, and the wounds from last year’s infighting have been reopened by the decision to put half of our senior clubs back into cold storage. The move by the Scottish FA – at the same time as they were apparently endorsing Celtic swanning off to Dubai in the middle of a global pandemic – has rightly caused fury in the lower leagues.

Their feelings were probably best summed up by the Falkirk chairman, Gary Deans, who accused the football authorities of “unfairness, inconsistency and double standards” following Wednesday’s meeting of all 42 SPFL clubs. The league body quickly endorsed the SFA move, while also turning a blind eye to the actions of the imploding champions.

The Celtic chief executive, Peter Lawwell, offered a belated apology for the trip, but it was directed only at the club’s supporters, and not to his fellow SPFL members, a number of whom feel they have been offered up as sacrificial lambs in a bid to take the heat off.

Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell.

Lawwell’s assertion that the crisis had affected them more severely than any other club was a further insult, another example of the arrogance they have shown in this matter.
It was back in August that Nicola Sturgeon waved a red card at Scottish football, threatening to impose the ultimate sanction if there were any further transgressions.

There have been, most recently the insensitive actions of Celtic, and the First Minister must have been sorely tempted to pull the plug.

The decision by the Scottish FA to shut down everything below Championship level was seen by many as an attempt to ward off any such move by Holyrood. It is a perfectly understandable conclusion to draw.

All football should have been put in lockdown as the country continues to battle the spread of this deadly virus.

It is ludicrous to have teams travelling hundreds of miles to play games in the present circumstances and the only guarantee is that more people will be affected as a result.

Scott Wright needs to play football – I’m not sure he’ll get that at Ibrox

Scott Wright, right, in action for Aberdeen.

It looks like being a quiet transfer window for the Dons, and that is unlikely to change significantly even if Rangers do try to land Scott Wright this month.

There is other interest in Scott, but the league leaders seem keenest to do business, and Aberdeen will simply have to play a waiting game.

I have to admit to being surprised when I heard about their bid to secure Wright and, while I can understand why he might be tempted by their overtures, this is a big decision for the player.

Such a move would clearly make him a very rich young man, but he has to weigh that up against time on the pitch, and he need only look at the likes of Greg Stewart, Jordan Jones, Brandon Barker and Jake Hastie for evidence of how difficult it would be to nail down a regular place in that team.

It has taken some time, but this has finally been Scott’s breakthrough season and he needs to be playing football. I’m not convinced he would do so at Ibrox.

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