FORMER Celtic striker Chris Sutton has taken a Festive pop at the Holyrood leaders for their “ridiculous comments” over the latest Covid-19 setback for football.
Ange Postecoglou’s side will take on St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park on Boxing Day in front of restricted crowd of 500. The Perth ground has a capacity of 10,740.
If the Hoops had been taking on Callum Davidson’s men at Parkhead, the attendance would still have been pegged at 500. Celtic Park has a crowd limit of 60,411.
The maths are bewildering the ex-Celtic fans’ favourite and he said: “Christmas Day is tomorrow, but Nicola Sturgeon and her cronies have already booted the stuffing out of Scottish football. Again.
HAMPDEN HOORAYS…Callum McGregor holds aloft the silverware as Celtic celebrate the Premier Sports League triumph over Hibs on Sunday.
“The decision to cap the numbers at 500 for spectators at outdoor sporting events is a baffling generalisation for me.
“But, to be quite honest, that’s nothing compared to what came out of the mouths of Sturgeon’s sidekicks John Swinney and Jason Leitch over the past few days.
“The comments of those two have been a slap in the face to every fan in the country.
“Let’s get one thing straight here. I’m not downplaying the significance of a pandemic. I’m not saying football should come before lives. No-one in football would say that, either.
“But the mixed messaging and, frankly, ridiculous comments which have emanated from Holyrood in the past week beggar belief.
“Swinney got the ball rolling with his stuff about regretting allowing full numbers of supporters into stadiums last weekend, referencing last Sunday’s Premier Sports Cup Final between Celtic and Hibs, in particular.
PRIZE GUY…Ange Postecoglou with his first trophy as Celtic manager.
“The Deputy First Minister and Government made a decision about the game to let it go ahead with a capacity crowd and then came out two days later claiming there is a high danger that it was a superspreader.
“Basically, telling anyone outside of the game that anyone who went to Hampden was irresponsible and is helping to spread Omicron.
“I was there working. He might not have meant that, but that’s the inference I took from it.
“To then say: ‘That’s nobody’s fault. I was one of the people involved in the decision,’ is hypocrisy of the highest order.
“It IS someone’s fault then, John. The fault of the people who took the decision.
“If that wasn’t enough, Swinney then doubled down ahead of the three Premiership matches which were staged on Wednesday night.
“Games in Edinburgh, Paisley and Perth had open doors. The Government’s message there is it is all right to go so long as you are vaccinated or take a negative LFT.
CLAP HANDS…Scott Bain and Greg Taylor applaud the Celtic fans in Paisley on Wednesday.
“Yet he then comes out publicly and actively encourages people not to go to the games.
“So, if you’ve paid £30 for a ticket for a game, you are just going to burn that money and sit in the house. If the game was called off, you’d be entitled to a refund.”
Sutton, speaking to the Daily Record, continued: “Leitch didn’t help matters with his words as he addressed the decision to limit the numbers to 500 for the games for three weeks.
“Throughout this entire pandemic going back to day one, we’ve been told it’s about following the science and working accordingly.
“He said: ‘It’s very difficult to choose a number, you can either choose zero, 10,000 or somewhere in between. There isn’t a particular public health route that takes you to 500 people. It’s a judgement, it’s of course based on trying to keep the risk as low as you possibly can but the alternative is just to close them down completely’.
DON’T LOOK NOW…Ange Postecoglou delivers his aftermatch thoughts after the goalless draw in Paisley.
“It seems to me that the number has just been plucked out of the air. Which simply isn’t good enough when you are dealing with a business and a sport that is so valuable to people.
“There’s absolutely no rhyme or reason. How can 500 people inside a stadium with a 5,000 capacity be the same as 500 people in a 50,000 stadium?
“I’ll bet good money there are more than 500 people milling around inside indoor shopping centres on Boxing Day of the sales.
“There will be more than 500 people walking on Princes Street at the same time. I just don’t get it.
“If it’s about buses and travelling, people are still using the same trains and buses to get where they need to go at a time when sporting events are restricted.”
The one-time England international forward, now a top media pundit, added: “Once again, I’m not down-playing the significance of a pandemic.
“Whatever you think about the numbers and the actual damage which Omicron is or isn’t doing based on the information we are getting at the moment, too many lives have been lost in the past two years to just dismiss any health concerns.
STRIKE ONE…Giorgos Giakoumakis celebrates his first goal for the Hoops in the 2-0 win over St Johnstone in October.
“But I can understand fans’ frustrations. They were told to get a jab. Done. Get your vaccine passport. Done. Do a negative test. Done. Oh, you still can’t go to the game.
“Now it’s the game is on and the doors are open, but we’re saying you shouldn’t go so we have an out and can blame you afterwards for spreading it.
“Holyrood has not officially closed top-flight football down. But, unofficially, they have brought the postponement of the great weeks of the calendar.
“It’s not just the turkey that’s been stuffed.”
The Hoops, meanwhile, are preparing for their third meeting with St Johnstone in the hope they can go into the rescheduled winter break with a victory following their stutter in the scoreless stalemate against St Mirren in Paisley in midweek.
Goals from Giorgos Giakoumakis – so far the £2.5million Greek striker’s solitary strike – and Josip Juranovic, from the penalty spot, gave Postecoglou’s men a 2-0 win in the Premiership in Glasgow in October while substitute James Forrest thumped in the only goal of the Premier Sports League Cup semi-final last month.
Celtic will be looking to maintain that sequence on Sunday before the curtain comes down on the first half of an intriguing season.