When a manager leaves a club, few people inside the club pop open the champagne.
A managerial sacking is not a cause for happiness to directors and other staff.
It might be celebrated in the stands as a positive step, but inside the walls it’s seen as something else.
It’s seen as a defeat.
As a reflection on decisions taken by the board.
Only complete morons would draw attention to such bad choices.
Thankfully, Dave King ticks that box, otherwise his club may well have gotten away with its latest scam.
Celtic has had several managers over the last two fifteen or so years.
Not one of them left the club threatening to go to court.
Martin O’Neill left after failing to win the SPL. He was going anyway; that outcome had nothing to do with his decision, which was taken with the wellbeing of his family in mind. Had he wanted to stay at Celtic another ten years the board would have been all in favour of it. He was well liked and respected by everyone at Parkhead.
Gordon Strachan left having failed to win the title in his last year; Gordon was frankly exhausted after four incredible, stressful, years in the job. It did him good to go, and he too had many admirers inside Celtic Park. He went with everyone’s warm regards and best wishes.
Tony Mowbray had a difficult time at our club, and it ended badly, as everyone is aware.
The first two men left; Tony was sacked. There’s no other word for it, and Celtic didn’t try to sugar coat it.
The issue ended up with the League Manager’s Association, in the same way the Warburton one has. We didn’t settle with the management team straight away; we made sure that the deal we reached with him was in our best interests. Ruthless, yes … but it was handled in private, confidentiality was respected on all fronts, and the details of the eventual settlement have never found their way into the media or anywhere else.
There was no messy legal fight, and more importantly there was no public slagging match.
The media did their best to create controversy there. They ran a rash of stories in the middle of the year saying Mowbray and his team were waiting for their money. By the end of that year he was at Borough and the details of the settlement were published in our accounts.
With Neil, I always got the impression that both sides had come to the end of their journey, and probably many months before it was official. I believe there’s a huge untold story about why he cut his stay short; I believed it was the right thing for him and for Celtic, and I didn’t bother too much with the rumour mill in the aftermath.
Whatever it was, his departure was definitely for the best, for everyone concerned, and both Neil and the club handled it in a civilised and professional manner. Neither has ever said a bad word about the other, and nor will they. Neil is part of Celtic and Celtic is part of Neil. Whatever it was, it doesn’t change that.
And then there was Ronny; have you ever seen an exit so dignified and classy?
Ronny and Celtic both knew what had to be done, but there was no anger on either side, far less the spite that flowed out of King’s recent statement.
It was handled with genuine warmth.
Ronny wasn’t simply allowed to finish out the season, he went with a second title win, at a packed Celtic Park, with the crowd singing his name.
What a way to say goodbye.
Every Celtic fan I know was in favour of replacing Ronny. But the way it was handled – and I was dead set against it, by the way; I make no bones about it. When he announced he was leaving I thought it should have been done right away – well, with the benefit of hindsight I am in awe of everyone involved.
It was a poetic finish and the least Ronny deserved for enduring what he did.
The historical verdict on his time here will be far kinder than the rush-to-judgement many people experienced at the time, and I speak as one of those people.
This is Celtic, an organisation that has class.
It does things in a way that should make us all proud.
Their handling of all the above scenarios showed that the end of a manger’s tenure doesn’t have to be bitter or acrimonious.
The club ultimately did right by each one, even Tony Mowbray.
Sevco’s initial statement on the “resignations” of the management team seemed to be doing the same; it ended with wishing the three men all the best, and thanking them for their hard work. That would have a nice way to close the book, if the “resignations” themselves had actually been offered.
But King’s statement was so full of venom and nastiness that any remaining doubts that the club had done a hatchet job on them vanished completely.
That statement was so crass, un-necessarily harsh and unprofessional that Warburton’s lawyer must have read it with bulging eyes.
Their entire case for unfair dismissal and breach of contract is contained in those words.
It’s like King just decided to dispense with outside counsel or any intelligent advice and simply wrote what was in his head. The PR company the club employs distributed it to the press; their own lack of professionalism, or even common sense, rings out in that decision.
It was astonishingly stupid.
The consequences of this egotistical rant are becoming apparent today, as Warburton’s response is published.
The matter is now in the hands of lawyers; he and his compatriots are maintaining that they did not resign, and they claim efforts by the League Managers Association to get answers out of Ibrox have been ignored; that’s also unprofessional and dangerously dumb.
The club is putting itself in a bad spot here, in full view of the world.
They are trying to find a new management team right now.
This is the last thing they need whilst undergoing that effort.
Their conduct has been deplorable.
All of football is watching this with keen eyes and memories down south are long. If Warburton does have as many friends down there as the media up here was fond of telling us, what do you think this is doing to the overall standing of the club, in the eyes of those likely to be approached about the job?
Would you work for an organisation that so acts so vengefully, needlessly?
This one’s going to run and run, and that’s because they have assured it.
Had they got these guys in to a meeting and come to a civilised agreement, perhaps giving them until the end of the season and allowing them a dignified exit, this would all have been avoided.
But Sevco never does its business like that; it slings mud and invective.
It litigates every debate through its pals in the press.
It is run more like a crime syndicate than a football club and nothing we’ve seen here offers the slightest hint that this will change.
They are a shambles, run by a board lacking the first clue how to do things better.
The fans hope this a fresh start, but the people running the club are incapable of putting together anything long term.
At Ibrox, crisis is never behind them, it’s simply on the other side of the wheel, coming round again.