FOOTBALL clubs don’t like their players talking about real life problems.

Neither do footballers for the most part when they are still playing. Gary Lineker could bore for Britain when interviewed back in the day, but now he is one of the country’s more perceptive political commentators. Strange times.

PR folk shift uneasily in their seat, as do many behind the scenes, when certain thorny topics are raised. Race, religion, homophobia, politics and, well, just about anything that doesn’t concentrate on whether said footballer is looking too far ahead or taking it “just one game at a time”.

Stick to the football – or more accurately the script – seems to be the mind-set of some who need to take a look at what is happening in this world and how it affects the mostly beautiful game.

Of course, there are times when saying nothing is better than coughing up a few words. You can hardly expect an 18-year-old to sum up, and then go some way to solving, all of Scottish football’s problems within a few neat sentences.

Scott Sinclair, however, is different. The Celtic player is an intelligent, articulate and thoughtful, 29-year-old father of two. So, he is the perfect person to be asked to comment on the depressing reappearance of racism at Scottish grounds, especially having experienced it first hand.

“It’s unacceptable, not just in football or sport, but in society,” said Sinclair. “It needs to be kicked out. It needs to stop and be shown as unacceptable to use racial slurs or abuse the ethnicity of players.

“I think there’s more light to it now. People are definitely talking about it more. With Raheem Sterling experiencing it down south and speaking out, people are hopefully taking more note of the situation.

“In the past players might have been racially abused and thought ‘never mind I’m not going to say anything because nothing gets done’. But hopefully, as things start being done, we can move forward into a more positive light.”

Sinclair was last year the target of chants by Rangers fans who branded him a “dirty monkey” in a video posted on social media, while as recently as the start of this month a video of an Aberdeen supporter branding Sinclair a “f****** black b******” surfaced on social media in the aftermath of Celtic’s League Cup final win.

“It was on social media,” the Celtic forward said. “I was flicking through some things and came across it. It’s one of those things that shouldn’t be happening. It’s 2018.”

And yet it does. We are living in times when extreme views have become mainstream, but in football it is as strange as it is sickening. While their own team’s players of colour are backed without question, there are people who still feel free to shout racist abuse and make monkey noises at rival players. “This is what I don’t understand,” said Sinclair. “When I tweeted I called them uneducated and that’s what they are. They are uneducated in this area, they have black players in their team, so it’s very confusing.

“Why would someone use that sort of slur towards black players? It is embarrassing. It’s not acceptable for anyone in society to even think they can use that sort of language whether they are at a football game or in the street. But it’s always around and it’s such a shame to keep hearing the racial slurs.”

Sinclair and Celtic rarely have a boring run of fixtures; however, successive road trips, to Aberdeen and then across Glasgow to Ibrox, likely won’t be beaten this season.

Sinclair has never lost at either ground – indeed he’s not even suffered a draw – and should the champions finish the year with two wins then it would place them in position to stretch away when the league gets going again.

While being a millionaire footballer is a nice way to make a living, this group of players are running on empty and don’t even get to spend Christmas night with their families.

Sinclair said: “Obviously it’s not ideal. But as football players this is sometimes what it’s all about. We’ll spend Christmas morning with our families, with our kids. Then we will have to train in the afternoon and travel up to Aberdeen.

‘It’s not ideal but we have a winter break coming up so we will spend time with our families then. It’s difficult but most of us haven’t had much time off on Christmas Day. I’ve trained on Christmas Day for God knows how many years and you just get used to it.

“We’ll get the chance to spend time with our fam-ilies once we get into the break.

“You just manage. It’s all about balance. You have to play football and be professional. You come home and you have family life. I’ll take the family out to Dubai, I’ll take the kids, my family and the parents. We’ll have a nice break and come back ready for the second part of the season.”