Even with the best will in the world, you have to admit that the last twelve months for Celtic have been a bit up and down. A lot of this is down to the global health crisis, but some of the wounds we’re suffering are entirely self-inflicted.
I’ll be blunt; the club got off lightly at last year’s AGM.
They should have got a real grilling over the events of 2019, from the departure of Rodgers to the decision to hire Lennon on a permanent basis in the shabby manner in which it was done, and announced. The decision to effectively mothball the Resolution 12 business was another area they got off scott-free.
There is plenty to discuss this year too, and the board shouldn’t be using the global health crisis as an excuse to limit this year’s event.
The AGM is a requirement in law.
Technology means that it can easily go ahead remotely, and rather than have this regarded as an excuse to do a low-key affair where the directors all get on camera and congratulate each other on not screwing up too badly they should be opening the event up to more fans than ever.
There are questions that need asking, and they have never been more important.
There are obvious ones about the performance of the team, the overall standards at the club, there are questions to be asked about how we’re weathering the present situation and what we expect next year’s accounts to look like. Fans want to know that the club is robust.
There are infrastructure projects to be discussed. They are on hold, obviously, and will be for a while but Celtic fans will want to know that they aren’t permanently set aside … this is another question for the AGM and one the board owes us an answer on.
But there are other questions this year, questions which the board has not wanted to answer or has simply never been made to answer; what are the clubs plans for the future of Scottish football? If we’re stuck here, as appears likely, does the club intend to work towards the reform of the game in this country or are we content to have it run as is?
Does our club think it’s time that licensing was reviewed?
That financial fair play is an idea whose time has come?
That fit and proper person tests need an overhaul?
That refereeing needs to be radically transformed into something that works?
There are a million ideas out there, and models for them which have worked in other countries.
The Resolution 12 guys have questions they want to ask, in relation to the Five Way Agreement.
These questions factor in to a few of the issues I just mentioned, and some other outstanding ones from the 2012 fiasco.
Those, too, are important and won’t go away.
With all this in mind the club simply cannot view this year as an opportunity to make the AGM a more limited affair.
Quite the opposite.
They can use this to make it the most inclusive and open AGM we have had in decades.
If this is held virtually, more people can attend than ever before, even if only as observers.
This will pave the way for making the virtual element a cornerstone of AGM’s in the future; if it works this year, why can’t we have virtual observers and even online questions every year? This would be great for the club, and for the democratisation of this process.
There is an argument for saying that Celtic’s board meetings should be open to fan representatives, even if only virtually, and without speaking parts.
Eventually there has to be some discussion of making the fans the majority shareholders of Celtic; that’s an idea whose time has come but our PLC board would resist that with everything they had, although this is absolutely not what Fergus McCann wanted this club to be like … he envisioned leaving in the hands of the fans, but subsequent share issues have simply been a power grab for the handful of people who make decisions around the boardroom table.
Those people are widely seen amongst the fans as being out of touch, arrogant and tone deaf to the wishes of the support.
The AGM has always been an opportunity for fans to sit in front of them and question them directly, and we should not be deprived of that this year of all years, and especially not when half the world is operating by video link.