Yesterday Phil published an intriguing piece with an intriguing ending; he wondered if we might well be in the Last Days Of Dermot Desmond.
It’s a guess on the part of Phil’s friend, but perhaps a very good one.
The club is in good financial condition, but there are always storms and squalls out there and anyone at Celtic who looks across the city can probably see one coming.
If you assume that the Celtic board is full of smart people who can count past ten, you must assume that they are aware of a looming financial horror show at Ibrox.
Many of us are aware of it, so it’s difficult to imagine them missing it.
If the hurricane hits, there will be an impact on Celtic, whether we like it or not. Our board deals in hard numbers, and anything which makes Scottish football look like a basket case has a negative impact on our share price.
In other words, this might be as good as it gets when it comes to selling up.
If Scottish football is plunged into another major crisis, the opportunity might be gone for years.
This isn’t to say, of course, that Phil’s mate has read the runes on this one perfectly; we may have major infrastructure to invest in or something of that nature. We all want to see ground broken on the new hotel and bars. We all want to see Celtic get bigger and stronger, and this at the same time as we are dominant on the park.
But maybe, just maybe, Phil’s mate is onto something.
And if so, we’re going to see some big changes.
One of the dominant political philosophies of this generation – unfortunately – is the idea of creative destruction. It started as an economic theory, promoted by an Austrian named Rudolph Schumpeter; he maintained that the capitalism system first wrecks and then repaves society in a form that is more beneficial to it.
This morphed into a geo-political concept during the Presidency of George W Bush, when neoconservatives adapted it to their plan for the Middle East; American power would sweep aside the old order and something more to their taste would spring up to replace it.
We all know how that particular theory turned out.
Those who have hankered for the end of the Desmond regime at Parkhead would do well to consider what may end up taking its place. It needs to be creative; it does not need to be destructive. But it would be sheer folly to hope for this board being swept away on the basis that a newly constituted one would do things in a materially different way.
Especially if the CEO stays.
Desmond’s departure would not bother me one bit, and I have to admit that. I do think we need to shake things up at the club. I would be even happier at the moment if he took his CEO with him, because Lawwell is a man who’s clearly run out of ideas.
But we’re never going to have a sugar-daddy owner and I wouldn’t particularly want us to. Desmond selling his shares wouldn’t give us a new owner anyway; the media sometimes calls him that but in fact he’s only the largest shareholder, not even the majority shareholder.
Him selling up would most likely result in his shares being sold as a block, definitely.
That would not give us a new major power on the board.
Desmond is a man of extraordinary personal will and it’s easy to imagine him dominating most rooms he walks into. Another majority shareholder might be more laid back and low-key, and not want to take on a leadership role. That would result in a realignment of power between those already there.
At this moment, this is all just a nice little intellectual exercise, a “what if?” about the future of the club, but actually we know there will come a day when neither Desmond nor Lawwell will be at the club, and I think that both will be gone within the next five years.
Time marches on, and these guys aren’t getting any younger; eventually both will step back and the club will continue.
That’s the nature of Celtic, and of all things that endure. At some point, there has to be a handover and a transfer of power and as a football club must periodically replace its players in a structured way, there has to be a plan for this.
Both men want to leave a legacy; ten in a row would be a perfect moment for them to step away.
They probably believe they could do so and leave behind warm memories; I have to say, that becomes less likely the longer they are both at the club. Beyond them, that is doubly true for the clownish Ian Bankier. No tears at all will be shed when he leaves his post.
He would be good at the SFA; an invisible leader who only pops up to remind us how grateful we should be that he doesn’t do it often. I would happily never hear from him again. I cannot recall him ever taking the lead in anything unless it is to insult our fans. To quote Joseph Heller; “Some men are born mediocre, some men achieve mediocrity, and some men have mediocrity thrust upon them … with Ian Bankier it had been all three.”
Players and managers pay the price for their mistakes, and for their failures.
It is a truism of football that those who really run the clubs never do.
I know that Lawwell, in particular, often feels unloved and unappreciated; his vast recompense should pour balm on those wounds, but I get the impression that what he really wants is a place in our history where he’s regarded as a visionary deserving of at least something being named after him.
A broom cupboard maybe.
Desmond gets neither the criticism Lawwell gets nor his share of supporters.
His true role in running our club is probably misunderstood; he, like others, has cultivated a myth around himself, and it’s hard to know how much of it is self-promotion and how much of it is the truth. I don’t know whether the club would miss him or not.
One day we’ll find out.
Only the timing remains to be seen.