Today the Celtic board launched the season ticket renewal campaign for next season. It is, I think, the earliest date on which they have ever done so. It contains all the right stuff, the stirring imagery, the inspirational words from the manager and the promise of great and glorious times to come.
What a brass neck this lot have.
This is what we’ve come to expect. This season isn’t even finished yet, and despite taking enormous risks with our nine-in-a-row hopes they have a hand in the pockets of the fans already. They’ve even brought forward the date for renewals.
That is a massive inconvenience to many people, and I think it’s a pretty shady thing to do.
To make matters worse, they’ve tried to spin this by pointing out that any increase will only be at the standard rate of inflation.
A good decision, perhaps, but one completely underscored by their decision to leak that to the most hated newspaper amongst our fans; The Daily Record. Whoever made that decision is acting contrary to our best interests.
It is a shocker. The club’s PR wing is capable of mistakes every bit as egregious as the one across town. This reeks, all of it, from the timing to their paper of choice.
The Celtic board got lucky this January.
Sevco’s collapse has taken the focus away from a dire transfer window where the manager did not get the players he wanted and was instead rewarded for an excellent first half of the season with two project players one of whom we’ve barely seen and the other who we haven’t seen at all.
I believe – I hope might be a better way to put it – that these guys will come good. I’m not writing either of them off. But they weren’t what the manager asked for, and we have, in fact, played the last few months with the team that started the season.
Our success has been incredible.
That does mean that the club’s decision was correct.
In my view, this board doesn’t deserve the loyalty of our support.
They don’t deserve to have the best fans in Europe.
The way they’ve treated the manager has been abysmal. He may express his thanks to them in public but he knows they sold him short in the last window and left him vulnerable. It’s only his talents and those of the players who got us through what might otherwise have been an incredibly difficult time.
At this time of year, the board always tells us how brilliant we are, and always paints our club as a shining beacon on the hill. This year, more than ever, those messages are being reinforced, and this is because of the significance of next season. But those same people – and most especially the CEO – have consistently failed to put us in the best position for approaching that campaign. They gambled in January, needlessly, recklessly.
Had that gamble failed, they would have been lucky to sell season tickets at all. Many of us will not forget that they did it.
Many of us will remember it for a long time, and hold it against them long after all this ten in a row stuff is done. To make it up to us, if they do, they owe us big time in the summer.
There are Sevco fans who are deeply afraid that our board intends to spend big in the next window, to put us beyond their floundering reach. I wish I believed it. Instead I think we’re in for another long summer of frustration, followed by a last minute scramble for signings as important European deadlines approach. We’ve seen it all before.
This board could wrap ten in a row up in a bow if they act properly in the summer. The fear ever is that they won’t. That they will play it “safe” as they see it, when in fact that would be an act of folly. It would be another gamble with no upside at all.
One of the things that will undoubtedly have emboldened them to think this way is that it looks odds-on that Gerrard will continue in post at Ibrox. The board there hasn’t got the money to sack him and so they’ve given him their vote of confidence instead … would it be a surprise if our own directors thought there wasn’t much to be concerned about?
It’s us they should be concerned about, and the manager.
There is some tweaking of this squad that needs to be done in the summer, and it has to come without the attendant sale of a top player. The rumours that we’ve tried to tie down Eddie on a longer deal remain just that; this club dare not sell him and leave the manager with Griffiths, Bayo and Klimala to pick from.
Neither he nor the fans are convinced by the latter two yet.
They need to keep the manager sweet here. If he delivers the treble – as seems likely – then his stock will be higher than it ever was. If Lawwell or others counted on his achieving less than Rodgers and so never having quite the same acclaim amongst the fans, well I’m pleased that it backfired on them spectacularly. Lennon is on his way to being a club icon … if this came to a popularity contest I know who would win in a landslide.
I think some of them thought Lennon would be so grateful for the job that he would be pliable and easy to handle. But Lennon’s stature has grown, massively, in the last 12 months. He should no longer feel that the Celtic job is a privilege that he got lucky with the second time around; he has proved that he’s more than up to doing this job.
Behind the sales pitch, Lennon is a confident, young manager with the world at his feet.
They need to accept and acknowledge and accommodate themselves to that fact.
Our board is good at talking a good game, whilst they strip the club of assets.
None of the top players who have left in the last few years has been replaced by footballers of a similar quality; we cannot continue to perpetually weaken like that and still stay ahead of the chasing pack. The promotion of Celtic as a massive club is accurate because the supporters keep the club at that level; it is our continued commitment which brings big brands like Adidas to the table and high season ticket sales which assure the CEO his inflation busting bonus.
They can push us too far though. This time around the season ticket packages are out earlier than ever, and with the Adidas announcement on the horizon the club should be sitting on a greater pile of cash than ever before come the summertime.
This is the moment for the board to deliver, to the manager and to the fans, all the promise of the years gone by. This is the time to act like a world class club, and give him the resources not only to put ten in a row in the bag but set us up for the push to our own 55th title and beyond.
If we get it right in the coming months, it’s all out in front of us.