Today has been awash with stories about Rangers and its finances etc.
However, that has not stopped me reading the court lists as usual, and today finding another interesting looking case.
The Calling List has as one of the cases the following:-
Celtic FC Ltd, Celtic Park, Glasgow AG Ross John Connolly…, Glasgow
Celtic FC Ltd is represented by Harper MacLeod, Solicitors. Interestingly that same firm acts for Craig Whyte in the court action being pursued against him by his estranged wife.
Some might be surprised by the same firm (I am sure not the same individual lawyer) acting for both Celtic and Mr Whyte. But, at the top levels of the legal profession, there are few firms with the reputation of Harper MacLeod.
Anyway, back to Mr Connolly.
I was looking to see if there was information to suggest Celtic was in dispute with a person of that name. What appeared was this linked Daily Record story. It suggests that this Mr Connolly who has been sued is the same man who, allegedly, assaulted a Celtic steward at the match in December against Udinese, when the steward tried to remove his offensive banner.
Why take him to court?
I suggest these possibilities.
1 Having banned him for life, Celtic wants a formal court order to keep him away. That would be unnecessary, in my view. Celtic Park is private property and the Club can refuse entry to whomever it likes. Of course, there might be the added factor of actually having a court order against Mr Connolly, in the form of an interim and then a permanent interdict.
2 Celtic may be pursuing him for payment of damages. This could be a pre-emptive strike on the basis that the Club will seek to recover disciplinary penalties levied on it because of Mr Connolly’s alleged actions. In addition, it may be that Celtic can attribute substantial costs already to Mr Connolly.
3 The case will not be one for the steward who was allegedly assaulted. If he wishes to pursue a claim, then he could pursue Mr Connolly personally, or event, if it was felt that Celtic might, in some way, have failed in their legal duty of care to the steward, he could even pursue the Club.
4 Most of all, I suspect that this is an example of being seen to be doing something. If Celtic, in legal terms, is seen to have done all it can to punish Mr Connolly and to prevent a repetition by him (by barring him from all Celtic games for life), then this might be seen to be to Celtic’s advantage when UEFA deals with the fallout from that game.
Celtic still has to attend the UEFA committee dealing with that match. They can however say that they are pursuing Mr Connolly for as much as the civil courts allow.
Messrs Levy & McRae, with a long track record of protecting Ibrox from closure due to the sectarian singing and chanting by some of the Rangers fans, took a twin track approach of full and frank apologies to UEFA, and statements of intent or actual action taken as far as the miscreants went.
It might be that this is the best route down which to travel, and thus mitigate the penalties that might otherwise be applied.
I do not think it likely that the case of Celtic v Connolly will ever reach the stage of a contested court hearing. Celtic can leave that to its cross-city rivals.