In the tumultuous theatre of Scottish football, Celtic have often been cast in a melodramatic light, one that flickers between glory and gloom with the speed of a strobe.

Brendan Rodgers, the orchestrator behind Celtic’s recent symphonies, has pointed out what he perceives as a prevailing wind of media bias that blows harder and colder in Celtic’s direction, while a gentler breeze seems to favour Rangers, particularly under the fresh leadership of Philippe Clement.

After the latest twist in the title race, I can’t help but think: could Rodgers be onto something?

Brendan Rodgers Celtic
Action Images via Reuters/Jason Cairnduff

First, the narrative of the underdog may play a significant role here. Rangers, emerging from financial tumult and lower league entry after liquidation, are now perceived as the scrappy underdogs, although don’t tell that to their support. Does this position endear them to a narrative of redemption any time they come close to Celtic, especially when many in the media don’t need encouragement to be positive about the Ibrox club?

In contrast, Celtic’s recent history of dominance positions them as the established force, where anything less than victory is a disaster, and perfection is expected as the norm.

Expectations distort perception. Celtic’s successes under Rodgers the first time around have recalibrated expectations to such lofty heights that maintaining them becomes an endless struggle. Each slip, each draw feels like a tumble from grace, rather than a stumble on a path well-trodden by every club up and down the land. This phenomenon isn’t unique to football; it shadows many a champion team, where dominance breeds not just followers but a fierce chorus of critics.

Action Images via Reuters/Craig Brough

Then there’s the allure of the new. Clement’s arrival at Rangers injected a fresh narrative into the media bloodstream, offering a new chapter that’s ripe for exploration and embellishment. Fresh starts are intoxicating, and they provide the media with fertile ground for stories of transformations and new dawns. Celtic’s ongoing saga, helmed by Rodgers, lacks the novelty factor, making their achievements, no matter how stellar, somewhat less ‘newsworthy’ by comparison.

The media landscape in Scotland is as competitive as the football itself, with outlets often leaning into the narrative that will most engage their readership. With celtic and Rangers fanbases being colossal, there’s a journalistic tug-of-war to cater to both, but also to provoke, engage, and sometimes inflame. Simply put, they’re getting more clicks from talking down Celtic and talking up their rivals. Anyway you slice it, Brendan has a point. For example, you wouldn’t know by what’s out there that Rangers have won just two games in their last seven. Had it been Celtic, there would be all manner of headlines catering to that end.

With only five games remaining, and a title still up for grabs, it’s imperative for Celtic to not just play football, but to play the narrative. Every match is a chapter, and while they cannot control the media’s pen, they can certainly influence the storyline with their performances on the pitch.

Five victories would not only secure the title but would also serve as a compelling counter-narrative to the season-long discourse. It’s a clear path laid out for the Bhoys in green: focus, fight, and finish what they started without slipping into the pitfalls of complacency or capitulation.

Celtic Players
REUTERS/Russell Cheyne

In a season where the scales of media judgment have seemed more uneven than usual, Rodgers and his team need to balance their own scales by turning potential energy into kinetic achievements.

Let the headlines write of victories, the columns count the points, and let the final whistle in May be the loudest word. After all, in football, as in storytelling, the ending is what resonates most.

IF Celtic can claim the league, they won’t just be champions of Scotland, but champions of their own narrative—a story rewritten under the very pressure that sought to undermine them.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Big Ange was warned about the biased SMSM just minutes before his first Celtic FC presser ! ” These people are not your friends !” Up until Sunday there was a marked increase on all ” sports ” sections of Scottish outlets ,when the Rangers was in contention . More smiles on presenters ‘ faces …longer adjectives in discussions ..juicier verbs when the Rangers name was mentioned . Now ,it’s all much sadder and gloomier on the news desks in general as their pet project’ s bottle crashes . As the man said ” how sad ..too bad !”

  2. Well written piece. There are other factors at play than just straightforward pro-establishment-club bias but I still wouldn’t underestimate the influence of straightforward bias and bigotry, even within the media luvvies.

    The only true test of the balance would be to see if there was media enthusiasm for a Celtic win after a period of Ibrox dominance. I don’t recall that narrative applying during the early and mid 90’s.

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