Celtic attacker Ryan Christie has spoken about having to reject autograph and photo requests, and has stated it’s “not nice”.
With the current global health pandemic that’s currently sweeping the world, Celtic have put new restrictions in place on the players. They’ve decided that their stars can no longer take photos or sign autographs with supporters.
The move was made to help avoid any of the club’s playing staff picking up the disease. So far, however, there have been no reports from Lennoxtown regarding anyone being infected.
However, it comes at a cost. Christie has touched on not being able to carry out his regular duties with the club’s fans. Speaking in the Scotsman, the Scotland international said the following:
“I’ve had to decline a couple of times and it’s not nice, but the fans have been pretty understanding. As soon as the club put a statement out we’ve had very little of it so it’s good to see they are taking the advice on board.
“The club have done well in getting us to and from games. At a club like Celtic, every other day I’m amazed at the support we get from our fans. Most fans treat this club like a way of life and a religion.
“It’s not nice, but if somebody is carrying [the virus] then a stadium is probably the worst place for them to go. So many people love to watch us play football so it’s frustrating.”
The club has to protect its players
Granted, it’s not a great rule. It’s a shame for supporters that they can’t now get anything from their idols when they meet them at Lennoxtown, Parkhead, or on the street.
However, Celtic can’t be criticised for it either. It’s not meant as a slap in the face to supporters. If the club allows players to regularly come into physical contact with strangers then it provides a highly greater risk of the disease finding its way into the Celtic Park dressing room.
When you consider the size of the Celtic fan-base, it’s a logical move from the club. It’s a clear sign that the club is looking to take whatever measures it can to ensure the virus doesn’t spread.
For players like Christie, it’ll be just as tough on him as it is on the fans. Remember, he grew up a Celtic fan and will appreciate more than most what it’s like to meet your heroes. Rejecting requests wouldn’t be ideal for him.
Hopefully, however, we come to see the benefits of it in the long-term. Nobody knows how long this new restriction will be in place, but if it helps stop the disease from spreading then it’s done its job.