"Nothing to see" say SFA as Celtic Dubai controversy consigned to history; rivals in potential trouble

By Euan Davidson

March 5, 2021

Celtic will face no further sanction from the SFA after the club’s trip to Dubai.

The controversial mid-season trip was met with condemnation from supporters, politicians and society at large. Right in the middle of a new COVID wave, the timing was unfortunately. Crucially, though, it wasn’t illegal or against SFA rules.

Ill-advised, certainly. But the SFA Chief Executive Ian Maxwell has claimed that there is “nothing to see” in regards to Celtic’s trip to the Emirates [Glasgow Live].

Maxwell said:

“We said at the time that the decision to go to Dubai was approved by the government under the exemption and there was nothing for us to get involved with in that.

“Clubs have worked incredibly hard. They’ve done a huge amount to make sure they are compliant with the protocols.”

Essentially, Maxwell argued, the case was out of the SFA’s hands having had approval from the Scottish Government. It would’ve been highly irregular if the Scottish Football Association were to supersede Holyrood in dishing out sanctions for what was a sanctioned trip.

While Nicola Sturgeon questioned whether the training camp was “essential”, it appears Celtic have no case to answer.

That’s welcome news for the club, especially outgoing CEO Peter Lawwell. Lawwell apologised to Celtic supporters and society at large following the ill-fated trip, which led to 13 staff and players being forced into self-isolation. The Bhoys subsequently went on a dreadful run of results. You could argue that was punishment enough for what was a daft idea.

SFA chief executive Ian Maxwell / (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)


Celtic Dubai trip rightly goes unpunished by SFA, but Rangers might be in trouble

Meanwhile, our rivals south of the Clyde are in a bit more bother.

5 Rangers players were caught partying during lockdown, including Nathan Patterson and Bongani Zungu [Sky Sports]. Patterson quickly rejoined the squad once he finished a period of self-isolation.

However, Maxwell has shown leniency, suggesting that players are human beings who make mistakes. That’s despite the five’s egregious ignorance towards lockdown protocol.

He continued:

“I’m not going to go into specifics while the compliance process is going on.

“Players have made mistakes the same as people have made mistakes across all sectors from the highest down to the lowest level. People are people and things will go wrong at times.

“Clubs and the vast majority of Scottish football should be commended.

“People make mistakes, they are not making those mistakes because they are footballers, across every walk of life there are people making mistakes because of COVID. I think we need to separate that from being a Scottish football problem.”

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