“It is nobody’s business”: Peter Grant rounds on critics of Celtic’s Dubai trip
The Alloa manager, who enjoyed a long playing spell at Parkhead and returned as assistant to Tony Mowbray for the ill-starred 2009-10 season, doesn’t understand the furore created by the jaunt, which he believes is good management from Neil Lennon and club officials with climate conditions wiping out training programmes for clubs across the country this week. Indeed, he says he wishes such a camp had been available to his Celtic in 2010.
As Scotland has been in the grip of freezing temperatures, the club’s jaunt to the United Arab Emirates - from which they returned on Friday evening - has proved a hot topic across the spectrum. First minister Nicola Sturgeon and other government officials claimed Celtic should have questions to answer over the six-day excursion, which resulted in the club hitting back that it was fully in line with all Covid-19 protocols, and organised before the latest lockdown. The SFA have backed Celtic’s stance. So too does Grant - in the strongest possible terms.
“I know of a whole range of clubs who haven’t been able to get their players a minute on a training pitch this week - they would all have gladly followed Celtic’s lead if they could,” he said. “We are fortunate at Alloa our groundstaff have been able to do wonders on our 4G pitch before our Scottish Cup tie with Cove Rangers.
“What Celtic did is nothing to do with anybody. It is nobody’s business. People are making an issue of health concerns. If they had been told before they went that they couldn’t go they would have said fine, we can’t go and that would have been it. That wasn’t the case. Listen, the criticism they are getting is not because they have flown to Dubai, it is because they lost to Rangers. If they had beaten Rangers and then flown away then no-one would have been bothering their backsides.
“But for the actual trip? We would have loved to be able to do that, the biggest problem was you had no training facility. When I was assistant to Tony Mowbray there were times when you couldn’t go on the pitch because there was fog on it. We had a two week spell we struggled to get on a pitch any day. You have to be able to train. If I was Neil Lennon and all of a sudden there were frozen pitches and you get an opportunity to get away then of course I would take the players away. Would I rather be sitting saying we can’t train until the pitch thaws out? We can’t go out because it is too foggy? No chance. I have no qualms with that at all. If I was the Celtic manager and I had the opportunity to go away for a bit of warm weather training and get the batteries recharged then definitely.”