Gareth McAuley is known as a bit of an Imps legend, perhaps for how far he went in the game after leaving the club. Chris Sutton is not.
Signed by Keith Alexander from Coleraine, McAuley appeared 84 times for City, but rejected a new deal in 2006 and left to play at a higher level. He appeared many times in the Premier League and scored a famous goal for Northern Ireland in the Euro 2016 tournament. Chris Sutton bottled his England career after being picked for the B team, bottled our manager’s job and has since made a living out of being controversial on the telly.
McAuley is a staunch supporter of Glasgow Rangers, Sutton a former Celtic player, and the two have fallen out over the Hoops 11th title in a row, awarded after the SPFL season was drawn to a close before games could be concluded. Celtic were 13 points clear of their Old Firm rivals, having played a game more, and looked odds on for the title.
However McAuley believes that their win is now ‘tainted’, and he feels sorry for their players.
“This triumph will always be tainted and hollow. They didn’t win the title on the pitch, they were handed it,” he said, in an article that has caused quite a stir on social media.
“I actually feel sorry for the Celtic players now. They have officially been crowned SPFL champions, but all their hard work, dedication and gutsy performances when they ground out results will be forgotten. In the record books, there will always be an asterisk beside this season’s championship.”
McAuley finished his career at Ibrox, making seven appearances in Steven Gerrard’s first season in charge. His comments, which are as incendiary as former manager Chris Sutton regularly makes, have incensed many on the hooped side of Glasgow. It’s reported that Sir Rod Stewart even pulled over on a car journey to contact a radio station to lash out at McAuley. Sutton has joined in the condemnation of McAuley’s comment too, saying on Twitter;
“Deary me…Gareth McAuley “I certainly wouldn’t be celebrating”…unfortunately for him he never did get the opportunity..”
Whilst frantic exchanges between fans of the two Glasgow clubs are regular, it is unusual for two relatively high-profile Imps to get involved in such a spat. Despite having huge admiration for McAuley, and not having anything of the sort for Sutton, I can’t see how the SPFL would have ended any other way than a Celtic title, so it isn’t particularly hollow.
You can tell I’m scrabbling around for stuff for you to read, can’t you?