By James Black
Former Labour spin doctor Alastair Campbell has bizarrely revealed he wanted to arrange an Old Firm friendly between Rangers and Celtic – with the sides wearing their rivals kits.
Campbell believed that organising such a game would aid the Northern Ireland peace process and bring the Protestant and Catholic communities closer together.
Labour, who had been elected into government in 1997, were looking at ways to strengthen support for the Northern Irish peace process after decades of violence.
Rangers and Celtic both have huge support in the province and thousands of fans cross the Irish Sea every week to travel to Scotland and see their heroes in action.
Unsurprisingly, the plan never lasted long with Campbell admitting it was thrown out almost as quickly as it had been proposed.
“I remember during the peace process I thought of the idea of arranging a friendly between Rangers and Celtic and having them wearing each others’ shirt,” Campbell said on the Hawksbee and Jacobs show on Talksport and quoted by the Scottish Sun on their website.
“That idea lasted about five seconds!”
The Old Firm sides have never played each other outside of Scotland – or in a friendly match for over a century – so the idea was almost certainly never going to get off the ground.
It’s unlikely the security services would have been overly keen on such a game taking place – in Scotland or Northern Ireland – given the tensions that surround the fixture.
Campbell is a lifelong Burnley fan, although both his parents are Scottish, so it’s unlikely the Labour spin chief would have been unaware of the problems posed by such a fixture taking place.
Despite the game not taking place – or perhaps because of it – the UK government managed to secure peace in Northern Ireland as both sides agreed to Good Friday Agreement in 1998.
In other Rangers team news, Chris Sutton has destroyed a midfielder for his display against Partick Thistle.