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Ian Bankier claims Celtic ‘astonishingly treated’ by government over Covid-19

Soccer – Scottish Premiership – Celtic v Aberdeen – Celtic Park
(Image credit: Jeff Holmes)

Chairman Ian Bankier claimed Celtic were “astonishingly treated” by the Scottish Government during last season’s Covid-19 issues.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon called for the postponement of the Parkhead club’s next two games at the start of 2020/21 campaign when Boli Bolingoli went to Spain then featured against Kilmarnock after ignoring quarantine rules on his return.

Aberdeen had three games delayed after eight first-team members visited a bar, where two contracted the virus and Sturgeon warned that the postponement of the clubs’ matches should be seen as a “yellow card” to Scottish football

After a tumultuous season Celtic had lost the cinch Premiership title for the first time in 10 years to rivals Rangers with manager Neil Lennon departing in February.

Speaking during the question and answer section of the club’s AGM at Celtic Park, Bankier was asked if Celtic were treated fairly by Scottish FA and Scottish Government.

He said: “Oh I’m in, I’m in no doubt that we had the worst rub of the green that you could possibly imagine.

“You couldn’t have written it down on a piece of paper the number of things that went wrong.

“I think we were astonishingly treated by the Scottish Government. We were the only employer in Scotland to be given sanctions for an employee breaching rules.

“That was the start of the downward slide, or the loss of momentum early last season, where we and Aberdeen were banned from playing for two games.

“It stopped the momentum.

“We also had an undue course of luck in terms of injuries through international breaks.

“We had James Forrest out, we had a lot of things go wrong. What’s going to go wrong next, it almost was.

“It was terrible, absolutely terrible, but I’m not shying away from the fact that there were other aspects of the season where we just might have done a bit better, but we didn’t do.

“But yeah, I’m absolutely a supporter on that.”

Asked from the body of the hall what he had done about it at that time, Bankier was less bullish.

He replied: “Well, if the First Minister of Scotland stands up and says I want a red card or a yellow card to be shown to Celtic Football Club, what is it you do?

“So, do you take them on?

“We made our views really clear to the Scottish FA, which is our conduit for communication.

“If you go toe-to-toe with an organisation with the scale, breadth and power of a government, you will almost certainly make things a lot worse, therefore we chose not to do that.

“We had to get back to playing our games.”