As Celtic count the cost of their squad-decimating trip to Dubai and it’s impact in the Scottish Premiership title race, only slightly less damning was the response of Rangers’ arch-rivals to entire thing.
Condensed into a few months, we have seen an implosion from Celtic which many of the Ibrox club’s support had seen coming in the years previously.
Rangers, on every domestic front, had quite simply failed to apply the necessary pressure.
Since Rangers have gotten their house in order, Celtic’s has folded – to paraphrase the words of Dave King – like a pack of a cards.
But Celtic – far from go down fighting on the pitch – have gone down kicking, screaming and wailing in a pathetic week or so which will be looked back upon with distaste from every quarter of Scottish football.
Celtic’s trip to Dubai put the entire game at risk – not forgetting the fact it was sanctioned by the SPFL – and cast the national game into the spotlight again.
Their resultant Covid-19 positive has seen football from League One and below offered up as what feels like a sacrificial lamb to an expectant Scottish Government.
Do Celtic care? No. Not a jot. Scottish football is famous for tribal club loyalties but any right-minded Celtic fan must have blushing cheeks over their club’s attitude to this trip.
Not only did Celtic put the season at risk, but the clear flouting of Covid-19 protocols smacked of an entitlement not befitting the crown of Scottish Champions.
This was an example of why their empire is in demise – the focus in the wrong places, the lack of leadership, the jelly and ice cream melting as they squabble over how best to clean it up.
Since Celtic’s return – the trip already protected by the SFA – one of their players, Chris Jullien, tested positive for Covid-19.
Not only did this highlight the stupidity of the trip – 13 Celtic players and three staff including Neil Lennon are self-isolating – but it also highlighted the fact this wasn’t quite the high-performance training camp it was touted as.
Chris Jullien is currently on crutches, out for the season, and now battling the coronavirus after he was needlessly whisked off abroad.
The reaction? A complete lack of responsibility and leadership which smacks of entitlement, an insult to the intelligence of Scottish football supporters, the claim this could’ve happened in Scotland [Celtic].
The entire thing was made worse by Celtic also refusing to retest their players with genuine concerns from the Hibs camp that the virus could be incubating [Hibs].
On top of this, Celtic fielded Shane Duffy just days after they claimed he couldn’t play because he’d left their Covid secure bubble.
This goes beyond the footballing and into the wilfully reckless.
They don’t appear to have learned their lesson either – the images of Gavin Strachan speaking to the media after the Hibs draw without a mask in stark contrast to what we’ve seen from other clubs.
Whether its necessary or not, it sends out the wrong message.
Contrast this with Rangers, who are in the final stages of their re-establishment at the top of Scottish football.
Covid-wise, there have been no excuses.
Every press conference has been respectful, every decision carefully thought out, the playing environment one which allows those who come into it to feel safe.
Quiet, considered, focused.
Whilst Rangers have been away, Scottish football’s focus has been around one club, the nation’s footballing authorities seemingly malleable to Celtic’s will.
But these last few weeks have made one thing startlingly clear as Rangers look to regain their throne in Scottish football.
Celtic are not fit to wear the Scottish footballing crown and whilst some supporters of other clubs might disagree, Rangers are genuinely best placed to lead the nation’s game by example.
Rangers fans are in buoyant mood after Celtic slipped up against Hibs with the Ibrox club going 21 points clear in the title race.