John Barnes sacked by Celtic for being black… excuses excuses


While there has been and continues to be a huge amount of racist abuse up and down the country, but one ‘expert’ on the show poured scorn on the reason behind his sacking as a manager.

Former Watford and Liverpool midfielder John Barnes has been racially abused throughout his career as a footballer, but what he stated later was not only baffling but also blatantly wrong.

Barnes was appointed as Celtic head coach for season 1999-2000, working under the gaze of Kenny Dalglish who was Director of Football. It was an appointment which hit the headlines, but his tenure at Parkhead will always be remembered for the shock Scottish Cup defeat at the hand of Inverness Caley Thistle in February 2000, which coined the phrase “Super Caley go ballistic, Celtic are atrocious”.

Barnes was subsequently sacked thereafter, with Dalglish taking over managerial duties until the end of the season.

In all Barnes managed Celtic in 29 games between the 10th June 1999 and the 10th February 2000, winning 19, drawing twice and losing eight.

Celtic confirmed that they had sacked Barnes following their shock exit to Caley Thistle, with immediate effect, along with assistants Eric Black and Terry McDermott.

At the time secretary of the Association of Celtic Supporters Clubs Peter Rafferty said: “I can’t really feel that sorry for John Barnes. He had a fixed idea about team tactics and brought a lot of the problems on himself. It was common knowledge the players weren’t comfortable and the supporters were clearly unhappy. Celtic fans have been brought up on a diet of attacking football, glamorous football – but that’s not what we were getting.”

Former director Brian Dempsey told BBC Scotland back in 2000: “Celtic is a difficult club for anyone to either play at or be involved with in management at any level. As Mr Barnes put it at his press conference, to ‘cut his teeth’ into management at Celtic was an almost impossible task from the beginning.”

At no time did any member of the Celtic support, Celtic hierarchy or board state that the reason behind Barnes’ sacking was down to him being black. In fact the fans rep stated categorically that it was down to them not only losing games, but also the lack of attacking and glamorous football.

Take for example, the tenure of Tony Mowbray. Deemed a worse Celtic manager than Barnes. He was sacked not because he was English, but because Celtic were poor under his guidance. They were also humiliated by St.Mirren which signalled the end of Mowbray’s time at Parkhead and started a new era under Neil Lennon. Yet Mowbray doesn’t bump his gums over his sacking because of him being English or some other ‘excuse’.

Now before I have certain elements attacking me for my comments, I have to state that racism is abhorrent and should be driven out of society once and for all. However what is as equally disgraceful is the number of people using racism as a reason for their own failings, covering up their own mistakes and the real reasons behind being sacked.

John Barnes said in an interview with the Guardian newspaper back in February 2008 that he was sacked because he was not Kenny Dalglish. No mention of it being because he was black.

He said in that interview: “…. my whole philosophy about football was to worry about what happens on the pitch with the players. But increasingly these days you have to know more about the men you are working for. Your bosses impact on you far more than what is going on the field. If they don’t support you, you are in trouble. At Celtic they were not with me. They wanted Kenny Dalglish, they didn’t want me.”

At no time during that interview or previous ones did he state that he was sacked by Celtic for being black, yet in 2012 this feeble and yes it is feeble excuse for him being sacked is being wheeled out by Barnes.

Why? Only John Barnes knows.

Of course he has faced racist abuse during his career in football, but his skin colour and heritage had nothing to do with his sacking at Celtic. It was merely down to results and the failure on his part as a manager. No matter what race, creed, colour or religion he was, Barnes would have been sacked either way for the same results, the same performances.

How Celtic have not contacted the BBC as of yet, or even John Barnes’ representatives to take him to task over these unfounded allegations is beyond me, but it is certainly not doing him any favours.

Since leaving his first job as manager, Barnes has went on to manage Jamaica in September 2008 until June 2009 when he jumped ship to take over the Tranmere Rovers job. During his time in Jamaica he managed 11 games, won 7 and drew 4.

From June 2009 until October 2009, Barnes was at Prenton Park. In that stint he managed Rovers in 12 games, losing eight, drawing once and winning just three times.

Since then he has failed to secure another manager’s job. Is that down to his colour? No. It is down to him being a rotten manager. Look at Roy Keane is the reason behind him being out of work down to him being Irish? Certainly not. Both were top footballers but both turned out to be poor managers and are better pundits than they will ever be managers.

Barnes has been racially abused through his career, there is no denying that and he has every right to denounce those who have racially abused him over the years, but while there have been correct calls of racist abuse it seems that the sacking from Celtic has left a permanent chip on Barnes’ shoulder to this day.

Do you think Kenny Dalglish – a Celtic and Liverpool legend – would have let his former team mate and colleague be racially abused without saying something? Especially 12 years after he was sacked as Celtic manager?

Maybe John Barnes should be looking much closer to home on why he was sacked as manager of Celtic, rather than trying to cover up his failings as a manager by using the race card.


About Author


Andy Muirhead is the Editor of Scotzine and the Scottish Football fanzine FITBA. He is the Scottish Football columnist for The Morning Star and has written for a number of other publications including ESPN, Huffington Post UK, BT Life's a Pitch and has had his work featured in the Daily Record, The Scotsman and the Daily Mail.

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