Archbishop Tartaglia and Celtic star Kieran Tierney.
By Bill Heaney
Celtic’s performance in Europe tonight against the Romanian side Cluj and the news that their star player, Kieran Tierney, is on his way to London to sign for Arsenal for a £25 million fee will please their many thousands of supporters, who include Archbishop Philip Tartaglia, of Glasgow.
But it could also be seen as a mixed blessing since it will inevitably turn the media spotlight on the Glasgow football club and the Catholic Church.
Both have been targets for criticism over their failure to compensate the victims of child sexual abuse following scandals which have engulfed both club and cloister.
And drawn a great deal of bad publicity, which has dragged on for months greatly to the embarrassment of Celtic supporters, Catholic and non-Catholic.
Critics of both club and Church are certain to increase pressure on both, especially since Celtic, an already extremely rich business, will receive £25 million from Tierney’s transfer to boost their bank balance.
Some Celtic fans were positively astonished when the football club, which frequently refers to itself as “the Celtic family” denied the link between the club and the Boys’ Club, some of whose former officials have been prosecuted and jailed for abusing young, vulnerable youth players.
Solicitor Patrick McGuire, who has been representing a number of the “survivors” who were abused by Boys’ Club coaches and Catholic priests appealed to Celtic in May this year not to prolong the suffering of the abused youths and to compensate them from club funds.
Mr McGuire said at that time: “As evidence is uncovered of Celtic FC’s knowledge of abuse claims made against former youth coaches and other ‘leaders’ as far back as the mid-1980s, the most recent revelations go further than ever before in disproving the ridiculous assertion that the Boys’ Club and Celtic were separate organisations.”
A partner in Thompson Solicitors, it is now inevitable that McGuire will repeat his call for an official apology and proper compensation to be made to survivors of historical child abuse at the youth club.
Although, the Tierney transfer could lead to the Premier League club being pressed to act now, it is important to point of that he is not and has never been in any way in this scandal.
The former Clydebank schoolboy has been a huge player for Celtic, the team closest to his heart and is not just a player for them but an enthusiastic fan of the club.
Arsenal had already had two bids rejected by the Scottish champions, but last night BBC Scotland announced during the Cluj game that a deal has been struck for the 22-year-old.
He is said to be travelling overnight to London to discuss personal terms.
Tom English, BBC Scotland’s chief sports writer, said: “It’s the right age and the right time for Celtic. He’s won everything he can at Celtic outside of Europe and he’s going to Arsenal to try and do something in Europe and the Premier League to advance his career and stake his claim for that Scotland left-back spot.”
Tierney did not take part in last night’s match due to an ongoing injury problem.
English said: “He just needs to get fit and try to put his best foot forward. This could be very good for him.”
Celtic fans, many of whom are Catholics, would be delighted to to see Church and football club move to end this unsavoury saga, but they are reluctant to speak out publicly about it.