I have a confession to make. Prior to becoming a journalist in 2001, I worked in public relations.
Yes, I know. I’m one of the rare breed who makes the jump from PR to journalism and not the other way around. I’m firmly in the minority when it comes to moving away from PR.
I’m two weeks away from celebrating 20 years since hopping the PR/journalism fence from Pittodrie to the Press and Journal.
It has been a while since I needed to deploy any PR advice, but – as rusty as I am – I would like to think my PR sensibilities would have kicked in had I still been with Aberdeen and they had decided to furlough their entire under-18 squad a week after coming back from a lavish trip to Dubai.
That exact scenario has unfolded not at Pittodrie, but at Parkhead, where quadruple-treble winners Celtic seem intent on upping the ante daily with their latest PR faux pas.
Covid-19 has made this a season unlike any other, but it is hard to shake the feeling the Hoops are intent on creating as many incidents of self-harm as possible.
It has been a trying campaign for them, but any club in the league can say that.
Boli Bolingoli’s trip to Spain in August set the ball rolling on a remarkable five months. He effectively ended his own Celtic career with that decision.
A dismal European campaign has been followed by Celtic’s domestic dominance being ended by Ross County, with the Betfred Cup home loss sparking demonstrations outside Celtic Park.
In the league, the Hoops fell 19 points behind Rangers in a 1-0 defeat at Ibrox on January 2. So what did they do? All boarded a plane to Dubai for a warm-weather training camp.
There was a collective shake of the head by most in Scottish football – especially with the decision by the SPFL to switch their home fixture against Hibernian to a week ago to give the Hoops more time in the sun.
That’s why sympathy was in short supply at the news that Christopher Jullien, a player who faces months on the sidelines due to injury, had tested positive for Covid-19 following the return from Dubai, forcing an entire team and the majority of the coaching staff to miss Monday’s Hibs game.
A statement from the club defending the week away and subsequent fallout made the point Jullien could have caught the virus in Scotland. No one would argue.
However, given he would have been working almost exclusively with the physios on his rehabilitation, I’d wager the chances of his team-mate and manager having to self-isolate would have been slim.
So, weighing-up the litany of incidents which have all but ended Celtic’s 10-in-a-row hopes, who in their right mind thought it would be a good idea to furlough the under-18 squad just days after paying an estimated £250,000 for the first team to live in luxury in Dubai for a week?
Even those without a PR background, as dusty as my own may be, could see that it was bad optics, especially as it came on the same day as an in-house interview with chief executive Peter Lawwell that brought a long overdue moment of contrition.
You simply cannot be seen to be tightening the belt financially while lavishly spending frivolously on needless trips abroad.
It is no surprise that Celtic fans are restless at seeing their hopes of a 10th consecutive league championship slipping away.
But the lack of self-awareness within the club at a decade of dominance unravelling is staggering.