The 3 most controversial Celtic moments of 2020

By Euan Davidson

December 25, 2020

Celtic? Controversy? “Surely not!”, I hear you cry, as you tuck into a brussel sprout.

I hear you. To be honest, it’s going to be hard to get through this article. Both as I, the writer, and you, the reader. If there’s anything you can say about 2020, it’s that it’s gone largely without incident.

Still, we have a duty to provide Celtic content to you, the audience. So here, I’ve put together 3 things that might have caused a couple of raised eyebrows over this calendar year. You’ve probably forgotten about them already, but you can raise a whisky and a wry smile to these tiny incidents from 2020.

 

Neil Lennon with Celtic’s 9th consecutive Scottish Premiership / (Photo via SNS/Getty Images)

Celtic crowned 9IAR champions, world goes mental

Oh yeah: Celtic won their 9th consecutive title (Scottish Sun).

A new dawn beckons for Celtic in Europe, as Joe Hart shows his class once again

When COVID-19 fully ground Scottish life to a halt in March, it was difficult to see how the league would see a conclusion. Other leagues around Europe tried valiantly to continue, but football was off the menu worldwide for a while.

France called their leagues to an end in April (ESPN). Later in the year, Spain’s La Liga was eventually brought to a conclusion (Sky Sports), as was Serie A (Transfermarkt), but in leagues that already looked over, for all intents and purposes, early halts were brought in.

In the same way that you’d stop a boxing match if one of the contestants was seeing stars.

Hearts were “harshly” relegated (Glasgow Times), with former manager Daniel Stendel’s time in Edinburgh ending dismally. Rangers, as ever, were revolting. But their appeal to the SPFL was “not competent” (Forbes). It all became extremely messy, but the facts were thus; after 30 games, Celtic were 13 points clear. It was a justified decision to award us the league.

Fans of our rivals will question the legitimacy of our 9th title, as if none of their titles have ever been tainted (Scottish Sun).

We didn’t cheat our way to 9IAR. If anyone wanted to play the 8 final games of the season, it was Celtic. We were on red-hot form and would’ve liked another go at our southernly neighbours.

To be honest, if you’re a non-Celtic fan and your main concern is the league title in a year like 2020, your priorities probably need restructuring more than the SPFL does.

 

Celtic’s star lockdown breaker Boli Bolingoli / (Photo by Ewan Bootman/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

What’s the story, Bolingoli?

Do you remember when folk on Twitter put Bolingoli in their screen name? I do. For the record, I liked Boli Bolingoli-Mbombo at Celtic, and thought he was unfairly targeted for more general defensive frailties last season.

I thought his movement – in an attacking sense – was often excellent. His final ball needed work, as did his positioning and defending, but he was a raw prospect for Celtic. A work-in-progress, who’d been decent elsewhere.

But then he went and spoiled it all by doing something stupid like “travelling to Spain during an international lockdown, failing to self-isolate, not telling his work, and putting tens of people at risk during a match”. That’s the kind of thing that you’ll get you punted to uh… the Turkish champions? Alright then.

Admittedly, there was only one of him, rather than 8 Aberdeen players who messed up (The Guardian). But Bolingoli wasn’t necessarily indispensable before his Spanish sojourn, and it was pretty easy to depart with the Kinshasa-born left-back.

 

Celtic fans make their feelings known / (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Panic on the streets of Kerrydale

If you pay lots of money for something, and that something becomes bloated, complacent and under-performing, you’re likely to be unhappy about it.

Turns out, that was the case for hundreds of Celtic fans, as many gathered outside Celtic Park to demonstrate their anger with the board. There was Protest 1, after the Ross County defeat (BBC). The next week, Protest 2, after a limp draw with St. Johnstone (Daily Record). Protest 3 was a more peaceful affair, the product of articulate and careful planning by the Celtic Trust.

There were reactions to the protests. There were reactions to the reactions to the protests. Within a couple of weeks, watching as Celtic fans were constantly criticised became rather tiresome. For the record, I still agree with the cause for doing it.

Still, the controversy these protests caused within the Celtic support, let alone the football community, put our name in the papers for non-footballing reasons once again. You could (rightly) argue the appropriateness of mass congregation given the pandemic, but the criticism protesting fans received was disproportionate and heavy-handed.

Football fans protest all the time. If Arsenal continue to falter (BBC), you can bet their fans will protest. Barcelona fans have already made their feelings clear (Independent), causing the Club President to resign (Goal).

Yet, when a section of Celtic fans voice their quite correct displeasure at an underperforming team and board they’ve already grown sick of, it’s widespread condemnation from all corners of Scottish society. Weird, that.