In case you haven’t seen it already, Peter Lawwell has given an interview to The Herald today where he appears to suggest that there has been some resistance to our plans for redeveloping Celtic Park amongst the political class in Glasgow and Edinburgh.
First up, let me point out that Labour runs Glasgow and the SNP runs Edinburgh; Peter is not alleging that one party or the other is responsible for this.
He is suggesting that the opposition runs across party lines. That both branches of government are dragging their feet.
But he also suggests a reason why this political opposition exists, and it is a profoundly disturbing suggestion, for any number of reasons.
In the interview, Peter talks about the economic benefits our club brings to the area. He is right to. The developments we’re talking about would bring even more. Celtic has made a substantial investment in the local area, and we’ve bought up the land necessary for these developments. If people are dragging their feet that’s a problem, with enormous consequences. If the council rejects our proposals, for the reasons the article suggests, that’s a bigger one.
Let me quote you what the writer says in the piece.
“The Celtic chief executive recognised that critics will claim Glasgow could not sanction a commercial move which would benefit only one club ….”
Excuse me? Who are these “critics” who would suggest any such thing?
Let them speak up, publicly, on the record.
If there are politicians who feel this way, I want to hear them express that view and explain exactly what it means.
I remember back when Rangers were proposing their hotel/casino complex, the Murray Moonbeam.
I know people who sat in at those meetings and they were a shambles, because the “plan” was nothing of the sort. Those plans were not feasible, but they met with no political resistance. I do not recall anyone ever bringing up objections based on the commercial benefits of “only one club.”
The idea would never have occurred to a living soul.
If they’d had the money and the ability to put that together, good for them, and that plan would have gone ahead, subject to UK government approval on the location of the supercasino. (It was awarded to Manchester and then Gordon Brown scrapped the idea altogether.)
We would have suffered immeasurably in the shadow of it, but you know what? That would have been our hard lines. There’s not a single one of us who could – or would – have objected to a development that would have created jobs and improved the city on the basis that it impacted on our ability to compete on the football pitch.
The idea is ridiculous, and I repeat, no person ever raised that objection at the time.
The only people who would ever have made such a specious argument are those who put the interests of their football club in front of those of the wider community and these plans of ours would transform the East End even more radically than it has been in the last few years.
But as Peter Lawwell says, these plans would not stop at changing our part of the city, but would be for the whole of Glasgow. They would raise the city’s profile enormously. And they are feasible. They are costed and not one penny of the money would be coming from the tax payer.
Peter Lawwell goes on to say that, “The difficulty for politicians is to recognise that Celtic is progressive …. Someone is going to say: ‘Well, you are doing that for Celtic. What are you going to do for Rangers?’ Clearly, it is politics and there are votes to be had. People are very wary of doing that. We have come to a point of coping with and dealing with that.”
I don’t accept that argument, but I have a feeling I know why our CEO is giving voice to it.
I would hope he’s exaggerating the level of opposition to these plans and simply trying to give the politicos an extra jolt. The alternative is horrendous. Because if decisions like this are being made on how the regulars of the Louden Tavern might view them …
That is not politics, or not as we know it. That is allowing stupidity and narrow bigotry to trump common sense.
Nobody is “doing something” for Celtic.
This is not State Aid, for God’s sake.
That concept is a figment of somebody’s imagination.
I say this again, for the terminally thick – and you know who you are, and I know you’re reading this – and for the umpteenth time; Celtic follows process and procedure to the letter. Every element of these plans will have been gone over by a legal team who’s costs would give any one of us a nose bleed. I dare someone to suggest, later, that there were deficencies in them. Because I would bet every penny I have on them being fireproof.
On top of that, Peter Lawwell knows a loaded question when he hears one and whatever he was asked to generate that response was a beauty of one. But if the interviewer doesn’t recognise a trap when one is right in front of him, then more fool him.
In getting this “on the record” Peter is putting the pressure on. That, on its own, should give pause to anyone thinking of blocking these proposals because they don’t like the impact it might have on their favourite football club, or how it looks to their fans.
Celtic is not asking for special treatment or favours.
We’ve made a development proposal with a serious upside for the local economy; that’s the be all and end all of it.
We’ve done this ourselves, on our own merits. All we need is the approval to get on with it.
If Sevco somehow cobbled together the money for their own schemes then good luck to them and let the council examine the merits of them.
But on no account should the people whose job it is to make that decision be thinking about how it will look to other club’s fans. That’s the last thing they should be considering.
Jesus, I am amazed this even needs pointing out.
If Celtic is not granted planning permission the council is going to have to submit a legal finding, to report on the reasons why it was refused and what the process was. The minutes of every meeting will need to be bloody good, and detailed, because the decision can be appealed, to the Planning Inspectorate and then, if necessary, to the High Court.
And that’s where it gets dangerous for people, not to mention damned expensive.
Peter Lawwell has raised this issue so that Celtic’s feelings on it can be made abundantly clear.
This is a nod and a wink to the wise; Celtic knows that this conversation is being had, somewhere. We’re putting people on notice.
It hardly needs stating that there would need to be an iron clad, legally valid, justification for planning permission being refused here.
Celtic has sunk significant time and resources into this; there is no way we’d simply accept a negative answer and walk away from these proposals.
If elected officials take such a narrow minded view, for such petty, idiotic reasons or for politicking then it’s “see you in court” time and whichever political party is in charge of this city at that moment will be a laughing stock, and the council seriously out of pocket.
Because I know exactly who my money would be on to win a legal battle over it.
I don’t know whether this notion of the council not wanting to be seen to do one club “favours” over the head of the other is a creative invention of the interviewer and a handful of others or whether these “critics” have actual weight and sit in public office, but the idea would be tested to destruction in front of a high court judge.
I would strongly recommend they don’t chance their arm.
If we’ve done our homework, dotted the I’s and crossed the T’s – and I would bet on that above all – then approval for these plans should be a formality. If opposition exists it had better be grounded in the law and justified in the public interest.
And the public interest does not start and stop on the Broomloan Road.
We get enough of that sort of bollocks with the SFA.