Re-Engaging With The Fans Should Be A Key Priority For Celtic’s New CEO.

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By the time Celtic’s new chief executive starts his job, a lot of the major issues which were facing our club will have been resolved. I hope he has an input into the new manager, because whatever decision this board makes should not be hung around his neck.

We can presume that he will also have had an input in creating the new football department which will be built around the manager’s role; McKay strikes me as a smart man entirely without Lawwell’s capricious ego.

Some place great store in his being a Celtic man.

I think that’s less important than his professional qualifications and CV, which seem first rate.

But if he has an affinity with Celtic, then all the better.

If he cares about this club like we do then he won’t tolerate the slip in standards we’re seeing and he will argue on behalf of the sort of changes that will make a difference to how we’re run.

One of the key tasks he will have is to re-establish trust between the institution and the fan base. This is no small matter. For the last 24 hours, I’ve been looking into that relationship for a story.

The story I’ve been following up on is about the treatment of the Kano Foundation, who the club has charged outrageously over the last few years, including this season, where they paid full price for a large number of tickets which, like the rest of us, they never got to use.

Not only do we have the grotesque spectacle of the club charging a kid’s charity tens of thousands of pounds for seats when it could simply donate them (as I actually presumed that it did) but I hear that there were implicit threats that all the seats could be lost if they weren’t renewed again next year.

I was shocked to find that out, absolutely shocked.

More shocking even than that is what I heard when I followed it up by speaking to a number of people who are close to the Foundation and they told me of attempts to communicate these concerns and others to the club which were met with either stony silence from the CEO’s office or something too close to contempt for comfort.

That is no way for the club to treat these fine people and the children.

But it’s an example of how tone-deaf Celtic has become, how insular, how outrageously disconnected from the fan-base, to an extent I’ve not known for years. Their treatment of the Kano Foundation is disgraceful, but symbolic of wider problems that exist.

I mean, to give just the most recent example, today we found out that 90Minute Cynic were banned from the latest presser.

What an outrageous act of small-minded spite that is, especially when you consider some of the people who actually were sitting in that room and getting questions. One of them – Peter Martin – actually gets paid by the club to do the commentary on the games we have to watch on flickering streams. The contempt it shows for the fans is shocking.

The next CEO has to reverse this incredibly negative trend. He has to re-engage with the supporters and re-connect us to the ethos on which we were once built.

He will be the decider, the man who makes the choices that will determine the path we’re on, and for most of the time we will support him as he does that and protect him from our outside enemies … all we ask is that he communicate with us, to tell us what the plan is and how it’s being taken forward.

Let the supporters have a voice inside the club again, instead of treating us with such distrust.

Give them better access. Allow us to understand how things work.

There are some new media fans who would like to attend pressers and ask questions; I say more power to them and why should the club be afraid of that? The new CEO should happily invite them.

There are others who would love to do in-depth interviews with him, to discover what his vision is and what goals he thinks we should be shooting for. I say why not? I trust almost all of the guys on the other blogs and podcasts to hold the club to account in that manner.

More important, by far, the club itself should trust them and make that clear.

The folks at organisations such as The Kano Foundation shouldn’t need to jump through hoops to get a sit-down or have someone offer them a sympathetic ear.

These people enhance our club; it’s time those inside it stopped piggy-backing on their hard work when it suits them and ignoring them the rest of the time.

It’s time it stopped looking at them as a cash cow and treated them as partners in our historic quest to help the underprivileged.

The supporters deserve that.

That respect has been more than earned.

For too long Celtic has treated us as customers rather than as active participants in the success story.

If Lawwell feels he’s being dumped on for failure, it’s mostly because he’s placed himself at the centre of so much of the success.

No more of that kind of supercilious preening.

The days of shower-room appointments should be well and truly over with too.

It’s time for humility and professionalism to return to the role.

The best way for McKay to start would be to reach out to those Lawwell has spent so long pushing away; us.

To give us a vision and a chance to share in it.

To treat the supporters as the heart and soul of Celtic … instead of giving us the finger with one hand whilst the other sits in our pockets.

To build bridges again … instead of putting up fences.

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