I see there is a bit of sensitivity across the city today, on the 11th anniversary of Rangers liquidation. Fair enough. We are all entitled to our own backstory and if the shoe was on the other foot, we would be clinging to dear life to whatever comforts we could. As the years go by, however, a re-writing can creep in. For example, “EBTs were used by Celtic and lots of other clubs, Rangers were just victimised by HMRC”, is a new article of the faithless.
Just in case you encounter a Halloween zombie believing in such fairytales tonight, set him right. Celtic funded an EBT with one payment (only). They declared this to HMRC and paid the tax. The payment was not subject to a contract, hidden from the football and taxation authorites or otherwise. It wasn’t the EBT that was Rangers’ problem, it was using the scheme as disguised renumeration, the failure to pay tax on this renumeration and the failure to submit player employment contracts which noted these payments to the SFA and SPL, as both bodies require in order to ensure rules are followed and a level playing field.
News confirmed yesterday afternoon, that Reo Hatate would miss the remainder of the year because of a hamstring injury picked up on Wednesday, presents a significant problem for Celtic. Without Reo, we are slower, lacking his speed of thought and movement. This correlates with results, which are poorer without him. I think this is a real problem.
Liel Abada, another of our main creative talents, will also be missing until around the same time, leaving Brendan Rodgers with a challenge when facing packed Premiership defences. He is not short of central midfield options, but there is not a clear substitute for Hatate, anymore than there is for Abada. These talents are scarce in football.
For Reo, this is the fourth consecutive season he has suffered a hamstring injury, confirming a fragility he has in both legs. The winter break starts after 2 January, after which we have a Scottish Cup tie and a home game against Ross County on 27 January. That County game should be his target. There is no point rushing him back for New Year, take the treatment and allow the injury a full three months to heal.
He is 25 years old, with his talent, injury profile and new contract, he is a player we can anticipate staying at Celtic for a long time. We should take the medicine and invest whatever time necessary now to give him the best chance of a full recovery.