Celtic Diary Wednesday December 6: Half Full And Half Empty
Celtic swept into the last 32 of the Europa League last night by holding an impressive Anderlecht to a single goal victory at Celtic Park.
Anderlecht did their best to score, and only Craig Gordon kept it from being a typical home rout, but it was Jozo Simunovic who took pity on them, and not wanting them to leave Glasgow empty handed, he turned the ball into his own net to give them the now statutory three points at Celtic Park.
Prior to the game, Brendan Rodgers announced that it was 0-0.
This appeared to confuse the players who had checked the rules which meant Celtic were actually three up on away goals, so no one quite knew whether to contain the game or try to win it.
And it showed.
It was as disappointing a performance from Celtic since the last one.
An idea of how Anderlecht would treat the game came from this tweet… from the medical manager at Anderlecht
If you haven’t clicked now that other teams positively love playing at Celtic Park, and it could even be said to bring the best out of them, then you never will.
I keep saying it, but we need to make them want to get away as quickly as possibly, and not circle the date on their calendars as to when they are playing there.
If we don’t, we are going to see many many more results like the three defeats this season.
There is also a possibility that the players have no faith in themselves at this level. Indeed, if we keep telling them that, and I include management, media and supporters in this, then they will believe themselves to be second class players.
When this team plays, it plays very, very well. There is no doubting its ability, but somehow thise doubts have crept into the play, and the results are that in this years group stages, Celtic have played six, lost five and conceded -well, I’ve run out of fingers and toes to count the goals against.
However, it is a results business, and the end result is that Celtic are still in europe, although at times it feels more like Theresa May is managing the campaign, and everyone at the club must sit down and take stock of where its going wrong, and put it right.
To play that badly that often and still make the knockout stages of the Europa League, from a starting point back in the summer qualifiers is no mean feat, and its that shred of hope to which we will cling when it all starts up again.
What do we need ?
Well, despite what you might read elsewhere, or even believe yourself, we don’t need major surgery.
There are some great players at Celtic, and most of them are more than capable of doing a job at Europa level.
It would be nice of someone would tell them that now and again.
After the game, Brendan Rodgers kind of proved my point…
“We were fourth seeds and there won’t be too many of those who have jumped up to third place and gone through. We have been able to do that.
“A Scottish team to have come out of the Champions League and have European football after Christmas is a huge achievement.
It’s an achievement, but it shouldn’t be a surprise. One could argue that the wealer league we play in, if we are to accept that as fact, allows us more scope to concentrate on European games. We don’t have tough games before or after ties against European giants.
We have closed the campaign and we have qualified. To have got to the Europa League is absolutely brilliant.
“Our aim was to finish third. That would be a massive achievement for us at this stage of where we are at.
“We have done that, so there is immense pride, but it’s hard to feel that when you’ve lost.”
“Some of them think they are Champions League players, but this is a good leveller for some of those guys to reflect on the performance and be better.
“It was a poor performance. Our technique was poor. The players could not play quickly enough and needed five or six touches on the ball.
“We now have a few months to put in a lot of work and there are always lessons to be learned at this level because of the players you are up against.
“We won’t get carried away. You see the amount of work we need to do to be competitive at this level.
“The context of the game probably affected our performance, especially in the first half, with Anderlecht having to chase the game to make up the goal difference.
“They were much brighter and quicker than us and, overall, the best team won.
“There is a story for some of our players in that they have a long way to go before they can call themselves to be players at this level.
“But we’ve shown over the course of this campaign that we can be better.”
“We have to have a touch of realism.
“There are going to be much, much better teams in there than ourselves.
It’s this last bit that I don’t understand, as it implies a level of defeatism that I don’t associate with Celtic teams. Especially at home…
Of course there are better teams out there, just don;t tell the players which ones they are. Instead, show them how to at least compete with them.
Do that, and we might have something to cheer about on a European night under the lights.
Elsewhere, and Derek McInnes looks like he’ll resign and take the managers job at Ibrox. So the media reckon, at least, after Aberdeen turned down an official approach from the new club to speak to their man.
If he does go to “rangers “, perhaps the SFA will refer allegations of match fixing and unsporting behaviour to UEFA.
Or perhaps they won’t.
Those in charge of the game in Scotland don;t care about those who pay for it.
That won’t change until change is forced.
Speaking of the SFA, here’s an update from Brogan Rogan Trevino on how things are going with the compliance Officer investigation into the Resolution 12 issue… ( taken from CQN )
The current position is that everyone is waiting on the review of the UEFA Licence situation (application, review of application, award of licence, submission to UEFA, compliance and review of licence conditions and subsequent review of information supporting compliance and the handling of that info by The SFA and so on) by Mr McGlennan the compliance officer.
In the past couple of weeks, the compliance officer has been contacted to ensure that, when deliberating over this issue, he has full access not only to the information provided by the SFA from within their files, which should include all correspondence from RFC PLC (In Liquidation), Duff & Phelps and of course Celtic PLC, but also to the correspondence between the Res 12 solicitors and the SFA Corporate Compliance officer and the same solicitor and UEFA.
As we understand it, no proper review is possible without looking at all of this information and correspondence. Further, upon reviewing the information in detail, it is very hard to conclude that the Cjief Executive of the SFA has given several different explanations as to when, how, and why the liceence was granted and why the Rangers of the time remained compliant with UEFA regulations at different dates.
Mr Regan has, on various occasions, explained that:
1. The Licence was granted as at 31st March 2011 on the basis that the wee tax bill was only a provisional debt as at that date.
2. The licence was granted as at 31st March 2011 on the basis that there was a potential tax bill but ot was not yet “due” in terms of the Inland Revenue regulations.
3. The Licence was granted as at 31st March 2011 on the basis that there was a tax bill due as at that date but that it was not overdue in terms of the UEFA regulations.
4. The licence was granted as at 31st March 2011 on the basis that there was a tax bill due as at that date but that RFC PLC (In Liquidation) had secured an agreement with HMRC that payment of the debt would be postponed and paid over an agreed period of time. It is essential in terms of UEFA legislation that any such agreement is in writing.
5. That the licence was granted as at 31st March 2011 on the basis that there was a Tax bill due as at that date but the tax bill concerned was the subject of an appeal to the first tier tribunal by RFC PLC (In liquidation) which appeal renders the bill as not technically due as at the date of granting.
Over an above the different explanations given above, there have been numerous mixtures and conflations of all of the above points of view.
Dealing with the key date of 31st March 2011 it should be noted that in fact the licence was not granted until 19th April 2011 (I think as I am working from Memory) and existence of the grant of a licence was not transmitted to or intimated to UEFA until 27th May (again that may not be the exact date but it is around then).
This is important because on 20th May 2011 RFC PLC (In Liquidation) received a formal demand from HMRC in relation to the wee tax bill concerned that made it plain that HMRC were of the opinion that the tax bill was not only due but overdue in terms of HMRC’s own regulation 80 procedure.
Not only that, but the letter goes on to state that HMRC are of the opinion that RFC had fraudulently and deleiberately underdeclared their monthly PAYE and NIC returns each month since 1999/200 and that these acts (plural) were fraudulent and deliberate and as such HMRC demanded both penal interest and penalties.
RFC PLC (In Liquidation) were under a duty to report the existence of any such demand letter to the SFA as soon as possible in terms of the UEFA licensing regulations.
It also follows that this letter should have been in the hands of the SFA BEFORE they were able to intimate any licence grant to UEFA on May 27th.
Not only that, but when corresponding with Celtic PLC in writing (in response to a letter sent November 2011 by Peter Lawwell), and on other occasions, Mr Regan of the SFA stated that once the licence was granted as at 31st March 2011 (Notwithstanding that no licence was granted by that date at all) the SFA had no further role to play in the UEFA licensing process as all monitoring and compliance checks post 31st March were carried out by UEFA.
There are two aspects to this particular position:
The first is that it means that no one is checking compliance issues between the dates of the granting of the licence and the intimation of a licence grant to UEFA. If the licence was meant to be granted as at 31st March then this means that no one was checking things between that date and 27th May which period, in this case, was crucial.
Secondly, and most interesting, is the fact that the people at UEFA stated in a later letter that not only were the SFA in charge of monitoring UEFA compliance throughout 2011 (after the grant of the licence on whatever date) but that at the same time they were monitoring UEFA eligibility for the following season 2012/2013.
Not only does this contradict what Regan said to Lawwell in 2011, it would appear that either Regan didn’t understand the function of the SFA in the process or he deliberately failed to inform Peter Lawwell of the full functions of the SFA and that they had decided at some point in season 2011/2012 that RFC PLC (In Liquidation) were no longer compliant with the UEFA regulations and should not be granted a licence for season 2012/2013 in any event.
When the SFA reached this conclusion has not been made clear but according to UEFA it was an SFA decision.
There are many many further aspects to this but key is this ….. at what date did RFC PLC (In Liquidation) accept that they were due to pay that tax bill.
There is clear evidence that this occurred prior to March 31st 2011 and it has been suggested that the “new” evidence led at the Craig Whyte trial shows that the SFA were misled as at 31st March 2011.
The evidence concerned was, in fact, not new at all and was pointed out to the SFA years before but they advised that they could not act on the same for a variety of reasons one of which was that their duties for each individual season actually ends at the end of that season – so if they only find out something after the end of a particular season then they cannot act on it.
This is such a perverse and idiotic legal position that the rules either will have to be changed or have been changed since.
There are any number of other matters to be considered including the submissions made by RFC PLC (In Liquidation) throughout the UEFA licensing process in order to remain compliant and how the SFA dealt with them.
No doubt Mr McGlennan is making fresh enquiries of friend Dickson and others (although this should have been done years ago but wasn’t) especially about the letter of 20th May and whether that letter ever found its way into the SFA files and when?
What we, and Celtic, want to make sure is that when looking at all of this he has all the available info and not simply the info fed to him by the SFA themselves.
They chose to leak some correspondence after the trial, but forgot that we too have correspondence that does not sit on all fours with what they have said thus far.
So, we wait on Mr McGlennan and his review before going further.
Of course there should be a full review of all Licensing compliance between 1999 and 2012, especially where HMRC cites deliberately false PAYE returns for over a decade, just as Celtic and the SPFL requested but a dying man rarely prepares his own rope or sets about convicting himself!
Which simply re-iterates the fact that we haven’t gone away…
Yesterdays somewhat bizarre image..