Celtic’s world has changed greatly since that moment during the first half at Ibrox on 2 January, with the team well on top, the commentator mentioned they were off to Dubai after the game. Celtic’s dominance did not produce a goal and the game was lost. In the days that followed, a second lockdown was announced, Dubai’s status in the Green Corridor was rescinded, Christopher Jullien became infected and 13 players were forced to isolate. The dominoes continued to fall with Hibs added-time equalise, while we await the outcome against Livingston.
We knew Celtic were off to Dubai for weeks before the post-match flight. Personally, I did not bat an eyelid at the prospect. Very few of us did, remarkably so, considering the angst expressed post-defeat, post First Minister’s “I don’t know, but…” innuendo. After event-ism is often fertile.
I have always thought it is the manager’s job to ask for what is in the interests of the football department irrespective of wider consequence. Of course Neil wanted to go to Dubai, last season’s trip is seen as crucial to winning the title. Similarly, it is Peter Lawwell’s job to ensure that what the football department gets is only what is in the best interests of the club, and on occasion, wider society.
A public apology from Peter is a rare thing, so we can be sure where responsibility lies on this matter. He should have said “No”, but like so much of what has gone wrong recently, wider considerations were set aside in pursuit of the Holy Grail.
With Celtic playing well and the title still in their own hands, Peter was never going to stop the Talismanic Trip, not this season, anyway. Would I have said “No”? Would you? It is an easy question to answer on 14 January. Reality is, I am as confilcted by pursuit of the Holy Grail as much as anyone. I know I would cross lines that would normally be observed, so would we all. Maybe this would have been one, who knows?
Leadership involves making difficult calls and apologising when you miss them. This is not Peter’s first mistake and despite the political grandstanding it permitted, it is not remotely his most onerous. History may regard blind pursuit of the Holy Grail as more consequential.