BEFORE we get to the meat of this week’s column, let’s get a few things off my chest.

First up, the police must find the person who threw the object that split open the head of assistant referee Calum Spence’s at Livingston at the weekend. Then they must prosecute him for serious assault at the least. The courts must then find the miscreant guilty, ban him from football for life – to their credit, I understand Rangers will ban him for life from supporting them – and lock him up for a minimum of five years.

Only if our judiciary pass such a sentence will other idiots be deterred from repeating the outrage. But I’m not holding my breath as no doubt some smart-alec lawyer is even now working out how to get the assailant a gentle slap on the wrist.

Secondly, the Scottish Professional Football League should not sack Neil Doncaster over the semi-final fixture scandal. Instead, the organisation should examine its own systems and contracts for that is what caused the whole Super Sunday farrago of nonsense which is still rumbling on.

Thanks to the intervention of fans, clubs, politicians, the media, and most especially the Scottish Police Federation and SFA chief executive Ian Maxwell – he is showing disturbingly rare common sense for a football administrator – the complete disaster that would have been Super Sunday has been averted. But why Murrayfield? And why still both semis on the same day?

The SPFL should have gone for the blindingly obvious simple solution of postponing the Celtic v Hearts league match scheduled for Saturday November 3 and playing the semi-final either on that day or the following day at Hampden, which would at least stop football cash going to the Scottish Rugby Union.

The postponed match could then have been played in a free midweek night later in the season. What an enthralling match that could be in the one free midweek in December or the several in February. But no, the SPFL seems determined to keep broadcasters happy. It all just proves what former SFA secretary Ernie Walker warned all those years ago about selling football’s soul to the broadcasters. Does anybody doubt that keeping BT happy was what was uppermost in Doncaster’s mind ahead of announcing the deal with BeIN SPORTS?

Thirdly, I couldn’t help notice that Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley sacked the entire House of Fraser board and management on Monday. Interestingly, he has let it be known that he considered them to be collectively incompetent. Can we now take it that if Newcastle United, currently in the automatic relegation zone in the English Premier League, do not recover to finish higher up in the league table then he’ll sack himself?

Which brings me to Celtic – who are apparently undergoing a crisis. They are not performing to their own high standards and I am not expecting vast improvement from them in Austria tonight, but it’s very early in the season to be talking of crisis.

What is disturbing for Celtic fans is that manager Brendan Rodgers appears to have had a fallout with chief executive Peter Lawwell over the failure of the club to sign players like John McGinn. I have some sympathy with Lawwell because he has put in place a salary and bonus structure which is breached only on rare occasions, such as when Scott Sinclair was signed. He can also fairly point to Celtic’s most expensive signing, Odsonne Edouard, who I confidently predict will become a colossus and move in a couple of years for £30 million-plus. Yet Rodgers still wasn’t happy with the failure to sign Fabian Schar, Cristiano Piccini and especially Scott McKenna.

It was reported earlier this week that a Chinese club offered Rodgers a huge signing-on fee plus a quite incredible salary to move there. Yet he stayed at Celtic and saw Moussa Dembele out the door too late to be replaced. No wonder he wasn’t happy with Lawwell, and an unhappy manager leads to an unhappy squad.

Maybe Rodgers got some extra cash or shares to stay at Celtic, but the club is careful not to reveal such deals. He still looked unhappy a fortnight ago, and by confirming the Chinese interest in him he has effectively confirmed that he had ‘considered his position’, so to speak.

Enter the key player in all this – Dermot Desmond, largest shareholder and the real power at Parkhead. Now this may be speculation, but I am willing to bet that Desmond personally intervened to sort out the row between his two greatest staff assets. One source told me that he ‘kicked their bahookeys’, verbally of course, and there does appear to be slightly more harmony behind the scenes.

The problems on the pitch need to be sorted out now, and can be summed up in three words – not scoring goals. For that is clearly the problem. Nor are they making the sort of chances they used to, and the other clubs know it and aren’t afraid of them.

That’s not good news for Celtic fans but at last we have a league that really will see some competition. I still think Celtic will win it, but who would have thought that seven matches in, the champions would be behind Hearts, Hibs, Livingston and Kilmarnock. And if you say you did, I’ll say liar, liar, pants on fire.