Date: 22nd January 2021 at 5:06pm
Written by:

It is difficult to overstate the danger we are in right now.

The disconnect between the club and the fans hasn’t been this acute since the 90’s.

The medium term risk is the greatest we’ve faced since then.

There is a brutal truth that I see played out in the world around me over and over again; it takes a long time to build something, but you can break anything much more quickly.

If the Celtic board takes pride in the club as it stood prior to this season kicking off, then someone needs to clue them in to the damage they can inflict on it in the next few months.

The club looks set to put off a final decision on Lennon until the summer.

It is unpardonable folly to do this.

The potential for a domino effect is obvious, but apparently not to those within our own boardroom.

There is a very real risk of a total meltdown.

The whole idea depends on a faulty – and I would argue even fraudulent – premise; that we have a better chance of attracting the right manager in the summer than we do right now.

It presupposes that in four months’ time we’ll be faced with a situation that is materially better than it presently is, and that’s something nobody can predict with any certainty.

Are we supposed to simply have faith that the board which has failed on every level to present us with a vision is suddenly going to conjure something up in May, with a month to the Champions League qualifiers?

These are the same people who tried for a Charlton player in the summer, failed to get him and told us not to worry, we’ll get him in January on a free.

Today, Alfie Doughty, a long-time target, signed for Stoke.

I wouldn’t trust these people to run a car boot sale.

To expect us to trust them to get this right when they can’t even sack a failed manager is ridiculous.

Let’s start with the obvious point, about how this decision impacts on season ticket renewals.

The forms for those will be sent out well before this season ends.

The club already faces enormous challenges in selling those season tickets.

There are two reasons why.

Firstly, the Rodgers Effect wore off the second he left the club.

The impact having his presence in the dugout had on season ticket sales was clearly real.

That magic was gone on his departure.

The reason we sold out season tickets last season was the nine in a row effect.

That gave way to ten which is why we were able to sell out completely in a year when no fans were going to be inside the ground.

Rodgers is gone. Nine is the past. Ten ended in failure.

A drop off was inevitable unless we were selling a brand new vision of Celtic to the supporters.

The second reason is the bug itself and the twin impacts of that.

The first of those is on median earnings amongst our supporters.

It’s too much to ask fans to fork out massive sums of money for a non-ten chasing campaign with so much uncertainty about jobs and livelihoods.

The second impact will come from the material uncertainty about whether fans will actually be able to attend games.

That’s in the deepest of doubt as any look at the news will reveal.

So even in perfect conditions, even if we’d secured ten in a row, I believe we’d have been facing an uphill battle to sell our full quota of season tickets for the next campaign.

Only an inspiring plan with the right public face on it might have gotten us over the line.

There is zero chance of us avoiding a major collapse in sales numbers under the present conditions.

It hardly needs pointing out that supporter anger is at a level we haven’t seen in decades, and that this extends far beyond the performance of the team on the park.

The fans need a clear plan, and even with the best will in the world you cannot argue that “wait until the summer and we’ll start making changes” is remotely credible as a strategy.

The likely collapse in season ticket numbers is not the endpoint of the disaster; it merely fires the starting gun. It’s the first domino, if you like, and as it falls and hits the next one we’re really off to the races.

The drop-off in numbers will impact on the budget.

So whatever options there are today in terms of the manager, you’re basically reducing those options on the back of the decision to wait and take the hit in season ticket sales figures.

Without a name manager that the majority of fans can believe in, the focus turns to Lawwell.

Is he still there and playing a role?

If he is, the perception will be that the club has taken a cheap option – which will almost certainly be true, and one we’ve had forced on us by the failure to act quicker – who will merely do as the CEO tells him.

There goes the managerial honeymoon, and with the worst possible scenario in front of him.

The loss of key players, which is certain, and the task of finding their replacements when footballers are at the Euros and when European qualifiers are right in front of us, a matter of weeks away, would leave any manager facing a difficult task.

That task is made harder by the inevitable budget limitations and harder again by the Brexit fiasco and the havoc it has wrought on our ability to sign footballers from the continent.

He faces challenges no Celtic boss has ever had to face before … and with the clock ticking. And of course, this all presupposes that we can wrap the search for the manager up quickly, which of course there is no guarantee of whatsoever.

It if takes longer than a few weeks he inherits the remnants of the current squad after departures and no time to craft it before those qualifiers come.

It gets even worse, of course, when you consider that the managerial appointment would be taking place after the rest of the “restructuring” had been done.

To my mind, you appoint the manager first and you let him play a role in the rest of that process, but Celtic can’t afford to do that either because then he comes in with no support structure around him.

But build it without him, and you’re asking him to come in and work under and with people he doesn’t know and might not trust.

Most top managers want some kind of say in a rebuilding job like that, but if that job has just been done before he gets in the door you’re taking a chance that all these people, new in their roles, are going to just fit together like a jigsaw.

In a matter of weeks.

Under immense pressure and public scrutiny.

Even in the scenario where you get lucky and it all fits like a glove, you wonder at the lunacy of doing it this way and the scale of the risk that’s being taken.

And of course, all of this is obvious to anyone with a functioning brain cell … which apparently rules out our entire board of directors.

It will certainly be obvious to anyone who’s being offered the job as that clock continues to tick inexorably in the background.

We are deliberately hamstringing our ability to sell this job to the kind of people we’d want to take it.

We face trying to recruit a manager, trying to rebuild a team and trying to put in place a backroom structure everyone can live with, all under the shadow of the virus and Brexit’s transfer restrictions and all on a reduced timeline.

The obvious course of action to avoid this is the one we won’t take; to sack the management team, to start looking for their replacements right now and to guarantee the new guy, before he even arrives, a free hand to rebuild the whole of this club in any way he sees fit.

If there’s to be a restructuring, the power to guide that lies in his hands.

Offer that sort of empowerment right now and we’ll get a top manager and when we do he’ll have room and time to work things out. He can articulate the vision even if other people inside Celtic can’t.

He can be the standard bearer for the club going forward and we can build the season ticket renewal campaign around him and his ideas.

We have chosen another path, it seems, and in doing so done something I thought must be impossible; to take a bigger risk with next season than they took with this one when they left Lennon in charge until the “January review.”

What a farce this has become, folks.