The Celtic midfielder’s case is set to be heard at Hampden on Monday afternoon. The post-Old Firm panty wetting will continue today when Ryan Christie shoves a jotter down his pants and takes a seat on Hampden’s naughty step.
Exactly why head-mistress Clare Whyte called him up in the first place remains a source of considerable resentment inside Parkhead even though TV footage clearly showed Christie did take his ball-juggling skills to a whole new level in a quick fumble with Alfredo Morelos. Football fans from around the world can buy online Celtic Football Tickets to enjoy its stunning performances.
Exactly how Whyte intends to prove that Christie’s slip of the hand was intentional and carried out with malice is another thing entirely and it’s more than likely that Celtic’s legal team will drive a horse and carriage through her case. It wouldn’t be the first time Whyte has been forced to wind her neck in over such matters.
The lawyers will argue and not without justification that this was a split-second, reflex action which occurred in the hundred miles an hour clattering chaos of a Glasgow derby. They will point out also that it bears little or no relation to the more deliberate and premeditated grope which saw Hearts striker Steven MacLean hit with a two-game ban for grappling with Eboue Kouassi’s crown jewels during a league cup semi-final at Murrayfield.
And they will be absolutely right about that too.
All of which makes the basis for Whyte’s intervention all the more perplexing because, up until this point in the season, the SFA compliance officer has been keeping a much lower profile than she did upon her appointment to the hot seat at the start of 2018/19.
It felt for a while like Scotland’s top-flight matches were being re-referred every Monday morning that Whyte was employing a revolving door policy to the disciplinary procedures with hearings being held on a one-in-one-out basis.
Trial by Sports scene became the catchall phrase to cover this confusion and the almost scattergun approach to selecting which player ought to be dragged up next and for what offence.
The noise over this issue became so deafening even SFA chief executive Ian Maxwell felt forced to poke his head out the office door and issue a statement calling for calm from the other end of the corridor.
Maxwell spoke out shortly after the resumption of hostilities which followed last January’s shut-down and at a time when Celtic’s top brass was back channelling the nuclear notion of recruiting ‘neutral’ referees from outwith our country’s borders. It all became so absurd that Scottish football could not move for men in tin foil hats.
Let’s not forget, much of this madness was created after a first touchy-feely moment involving Morelos and Christie at Ibrox at the end of December when the Colombian helped himself to a handful of the Celt’s shorts.
Almost exactly one year ago today Celtic issued a statement expressing the club’s ‘surprise’ after it was revealed the SFA had no plans to go after Morelos, even though it had been argued he could have been sent off for his part in three separate flashpoints during that one match.
That is all escalated into a full-blown crisis within a few weeks was no surprise to anyone who has been around the game up here for any length of time. And the glaring inconsistencies coming out of Whyte’s office were largely to blame for the foaming-mouthed furore.
It’s almost as if someone chose to have a word in her shell-like before the start of this campaign and advised against the reintroduction of this scorched earth disciplinary policy.
So it does seem odd Christie’s brief brush with Morelos’ manhood will today come under the SFA microscope as Whyte has no way of knowing for sure if the charge will stand up to any kind of scrutiny.
Others on the same sixth floor will be keeping their fingers crossed that this does not signal a change of direction for 2020.
If Whyte has rediscovered her appetite for conflict then she may well also be considering asking Morelos around for a chat about the nuances of South American hand-gestures.
And that’s another conversation which can only end badly. After
all, last April, when the SFA attempted to throw the book at Celtic skipper
Scott Brown for aiming a more traditionally
Scottish salute at the Rangers end of Parkhead it was booted into touch by lawyers and ridiculed by Hoops manager Neil Lennon as a ridiculous, trumped-up charge.
Brown stood accused at the time of ‘failing to act in the best interests of Scottish football’.
Which was ironic in itself given that Whyte only had to look across the office floor to see all manner of guilty parties where that particular crime is concerned She has done well of late to keep her nose out of everyone else’s business. But she’ll be extremely fortunate if Celtic’s legal team don’t give her another bloody one today.
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