Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Is it not time that Celtic's Neil Lennon and Rangers' Ally McCoist got three months in prison shoved up their arse for inciting violence?

Dear All

As most readers to my blog know, I rarely comment on football.

On the 3rd of March, I wrote about how to ‘fix’ the problem of Glasgow Rangers and Glasgow Celtic.

I said:

“A better solution to the problem would be to have old firm games played in the mornings at say 10.00 am kick off”.


“Quite simple, a player starts a fight on the pitch; he gets lifted by the Police on the pitch itself, no red card. Then, court case, found guilty, Barlinnie Prison, next door to Scotland's Nelson Mandela, Tommy Sheridan”.

It seems that George Laird was right again, the timings are going to be changed and old Firm players and managers will be warned before matches that they face prosecution if their actions on the pitch or on the touchline boil over.

I prefer ‘lifted’ straight off the pitch because by doing so it sends a stark message to those who engage in violence.

Also Police will conduct in-depth briefings with Celtic and Rangers players and management in the days running up to derby matches.

To make them sure that they get the message that they will face criminal charges if they fall foul of the law.

Strathclyde Chief Constable Steve House said the briefings would “include identification of specific offences so that the 'thick' get it drilled into their head that just because they are standing on private property they don’t have immunity.

Unfortunately, House backed away from arresting on the pitch instead opting for the Police will deal with them at some point.

This is a mistake.

However, the possibility of arresting players on the pitch if they committed a crime was not ruled out.

House said this would only be as “an absolute last resort”.

And he wants to be the first Chief Constable of the new single Scottish National Police Force?

As well as the measures above, proposals on a ban on alcohol at pubs and clubs near grounds, the expansion of football banning orders and the targeting of internet bigots have been floated.

So, how did we get here?

Well through the actions of several people but let us single out two of them.

Celtic manager Neil Lennon and Rangers assistant manager Ally McCoist!

Instead of their clubs dragging them over the coals for their conduct; they didn’t do anything.

It’s the blame game and the other side is at fault.

A joint statement from all those present at the summit said:

“no club is directly responsible for the violence, disorder and bigotry seen on our streets and in our homes, and we condemn such acts entirely. However, we accept that as professionals and role models, those who play and coach the game do have a particular duty to ensure that their behaviour on and off the pitch sets a high standard.”

Scotland is socially poorer for the existence of ‘Glasgow’ Rangers and ‘Glasgow’ Celtic; they are part of the sectarian problem.

We all remember Donald Findlay singing sectarian songs.

He was a vice chairman of Rangers Football Club.

Then across the other end of the City, we have Celtic Players crossing themselves just to remind supporters which part of the sectarian aspect they represent.

The Rangers and Celtic match is the Northern Ireland struggle by proxy.

Rangers chief executive Martin Bain said:

“There has been an extraordinary amount of debate since last Wednesday’s match, much of it ill-informed. As a club we strive to set the best standards possible and will continue to do so. There are undoubtedly major issues for society in Scotland and, with the best will in the world, they cannot be blamed on a football club or cured by a football club. We will do everything we can to help.”

Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell said:

“It is very important that events of last week are given perspective and are put into context. While the club recognises all that happened last week, much of what has been said has been disproportionate and ill-informed. Celtic Football Club is recognised throughout the world as having the highest standards and we aim at all times to live up to these standards. While many of the issues surrounding the Celtic v Rangers fixture have been blamed on the clubs, clearly there are a number of societal issues which need to be addressed. Celtic has and will continue to address these.”

Notice both of them home in on the words “illinformed’, ‘major issues for society’ and their ‘highest standards’.

But unwilling to acknowledge they are part of the problem.

Good behaviour has to be set from the top downwards.

Celtic made a mistake in appointing Neil Lennon as Manager as we seen on television, he is no Jock Stein.

Rangers assistant manager Ally McCoist isn’t a Walter Smith either.

Finally, we should remember that its 22 men kicking a ball about on a little piece of grass with a goal at either end.

There maybe a third ‘gaol’ but that will be down to the managers and players.

But we should be considering prison sentences as a viable option.

To focus minds.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

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