Phil Mac Giolla Bhain has published an article today which says that Lennon and Lawwell attended a conference call with Dermot Desmond after Saturday’s fiasco where the manager was reminded of the enormous stakes this season and given a “yellow card.”
I had asked in an earlier article when the Celtic board might be forced to act; I had no idea when I posted it that the man at the top of the house had already expressed his severe displeasure with what he sees going on. I was not in the least bit surprised at this.
There is a common misconception about our board of directors which I feel I have to tackle here; it’s that these are people who would be “quite happy” to see the Ibrox club win this title, to keep them in business and to continue the “Old Firm rivalry.”
This is such obvious nonsense that it astonishes me every time I hear it, and I hear it often and loudly and especially at times like this.
There is not the remotest relationship between that statement and the truth.
These people want to win.
These people want their names forever associated with the ten in a row triumph, and Lawwell in particular does.
There’s a part of Peter Lawwell’s brain which really does believe he could be the first CEO to have a statue in the car-park.
Dermot Desmond has been involved with our club since Fergus McCann was here, and he is a phenomenally successful man who does not even countenance failure far less tolerate it. Celtic is more than an investment; he does actually care about the club, but perhaps even more than that, Dermot Desmond likes to win.
I can assure you of this too; the way our directors view the club at Ibrox and the way it is run could most charitably be described as contempt. That’s an understatement. They view the directors over there as a reckless, short-sighted and, if I may be blunt, not a little bit out of their minds.
When I tell you I’ve heard, with my own ears, a member of our board refer to them in language that would be pushing the envelope of Twitter abuse I’m not joking.
The idea of losing anything to the club across the city, far less the league title in this year of all years, is hateful to people at Celtic Park. Hateful.
That’s not too strong a word, and I guarantee you that.
There is not one of them who does not want to win this title, they know it’s their legacy, they know it’s all the credit they’ll ever need to be remembered. On top of that, the financial side of it should not need spelling out; the initial ten in a row merchandise is just the tip of the iceberg.
Our club will be making money off of that slogan for as long as we’re alive and beyond.
The downside, if we lose … horrendous. Crushing to the support. Why would anyone inside Celtic Park wish for such damage – and it will be damaging – to be inflicted on our own club? To keep the Ibrox board in their jobs? To make them strong? For what purpose?
Celtic’s ideal scenario has always been for the Ibrox operation to stumble on in some form of another, but one which cannot seriously threaten us.
To my mind, if we’d gotten a grip of the SFA power structure and rammed through FFP regulations we’d have crushed that in its crib, and that’s a massive strategic failure.
But they know at Celtic Park what I do and what I’ve written many, many times and will write even now when a lot of people think it’s ludicrous.
The whole Ibrox operation is built on sand and is a major reversal from disaster.
Their winning a single football match has not changed the fundamentals of that in any way.
I don’t care how many people now dismiss that as a fantasy; the same people refused to believe Rangers was collapsing until bricks started hitting them on the head. The criticism we get for stating the obvious is the same as we were getting in 2012.
Will it happen tomorrow? No. But it could, it could happen at any time and the chances are most of us will be caught cold by it. But some of us will not be surprised.
I’ve done the sums. Anyone can do them if they take five minutes out of their day.
They cannot afford to live at the level they do, it’s a fact, nothing will make it less of one.
During the transfer window, when everyone in the media expected us to sell, when I myself couldn’t see how we could spend the money we had, at this particular crisis point in the world economy and particularly in football, without selling at least one big earner and high profile player, we gave the manager money and kept the squad intact.
Nobody can have the slightest doubt that his board wants ten in a row.
Anything that threatens that will not be tolerated, and right now the performances of the manager and the team are doing exactly that. They are threatening our historical hegemony. The people who run Celtic will not allow us to drift too far from the goal.
Dermot Desmond told Ronny Deila it was over because he had to listen to gleeful Ibrox board members after a semi-final win. His response to the mere possibility that we were under threat was to hire Brendan Rodgers.
I believe the decision to hire Neil Lennon was a massive backward step and a strategic blunder of epic proportions … but it could work, it could still work, it’s worked up until now. But if it goes wrong, they will rectify the mistake before it finishes our chances off. Desmond will act and he won’t wait until the writing is on the wall in letters 100 feet high.
Phil has good sources, and has broken many a big story from inside and outside Celtic Park.
One of the best he’s passed to me in recent years was when he told me that in spite of acres of press coverage saying that Albian Ajeti had rejected Celtic that the deal was still there to be done and that the delays were in relation to money he was owed by West Ham.
I wrote confidently of that deal from that point on, and I was not disappointed.
Indeed, on the day we closed the permanent transfer I was absolutely elated. Phil asked nothing in return for that story, and on the day it was done I asked if I could name him as the guy who passed me the info, he agreed and I was glad to laud him in the article I wrote welcoming Albian to the club.
Lennon needs to heed the warning here. So does Lawwell, by the way; this isn’t the first time the Irish billionaire has had to invite him to the principal’s office in the course of the last few years.
The last time there was a show-down like this was after AEK Athens when Desmond delivered a verbal pummelling to Rodgers and Lawwell both.
Heads have been slammed together; we’ll see how things progress.
One thing jumped out from Phil’s piece, confirming my own suspicion of earlier.
It’s not the game on Thursday but the one at the weekend which will really prove crucial; indeed, Phil says it’s the two matches against Aberdeen which will decide whether Desmond urges more dramatic action from the rest of the boardroom.
If we show up for those games in the same lacklustre way … yeah, that will have a big impact on the thinking.