'Didn't look right'; Thompson says whole Celtic squad believed Dunfermline lay down on title day

By John McGinley

July 8, 2020

Former Celtic favourite Alan Thompson has taken part in a candid interview with the BBC Sportsound Podcast today, speaking about a whole range of issues regarding his time in Scottish football as a player and coach.

One subject touched upon was the last day of the Scottish top-flight season in 2003, when Rangers won the title on goal difference after thrashing fifth-placed side Dunfermline 6-1 at Ibrox.

Celtic beat Kilmarnock 4-0 at Rugby Park, but that was not enough to secure the trophy win just days after the UEFA Cup final loss to Porto in Seville.

After the match, Sutton gave an infamous interview in the tunnel, accusing Dunfermline of lying down to Alex McLeish’s side and copping himself a multiple-match ban in the process.

For Thompson, that was the feeling of the entire squad and not just Sutton ranting.

Speaking on the BBC Sportsound podcast, the former Hoops coach said: “I think we all had the feeling but Chris was the one who had the interview on the day and he said what we were all thinking to be honest.

“He took the brunt of it. I think he got a three or four game ban which was harsh. He was speaking his mind. It was his opinion, it was our opinion.

“For Rangers to win by that many goals, and we watched some of the goals after the game, it didn’t look right. It didn’t look like it should have happened that way, but it did, we have to live with it.”

It’s fair to say this has long been the feeling amongst sections of the Celtic support too and though we’ll likely never get to the bottom of what happened, the squad at Celtic themselves appear to have felt hard done by.

In the years since, Sutton has refused to back down from his comments.

Was Celtic hero Chris Sutton right about Dunfermline in 2003? / (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Back in 2015 he wrote a column in The Daily Record defending himself from criticism for what he said, telling the paper: “I didn’t stand there after the game thinking I was out on my own. I was furious because of the way the results went but felt I was just reflecting what tens of thousands of Celtic fans were thinking at that time, as well as the view of a lot of my team-mates.

“It might not have been the correct thing to do but I paid the price for it. I was handed a six-game ban, reduced to five on appeal, and served my time.

“I am certainly not going to go back and apologise for it.”

It’s all water under the bridge now of course and these days it’s perhaps more relevant to shine a light on the use of Ibrox EBTs at the time, rather than what happened on the final day of the season.

Still, clearly the players from that campaign haven’t forgotten what went down.