Celtic’s released their half-yearly figures today and confirmed our worst fears.
In spite of a mammoth gap in the league, our early League Cup exit and the catastrophe that was our European campaign, they haven’t yet come to the conclusion that we need a new manager.
Let me repeat that; in spite of a catastrophic football season, they haven’t yet concluded that we need change in the dugout.
I would suggest that if they are still waiting to be convinced that Lennon will in all probability do enough in the games which remain to secure him at least another year at the helm. I am convinced that the board intends to leave him in place.
It’s also apparent from the half-yearly accounts that we’re facing a summer of unprecedented turmoil, and this is part of the reason they want Lennon to stay in the job.
I don’t believe that this is a club that’s going to embark on a rebuilding program with a view to maintaining the club’s strength in the short-to-medium term.
We’re going to majorly downsize, and Celtic wants a manager in place who will support that strategy and the sale of all the key assets.
We’ve even started the process of justifying this on the grounds that they want to leave anyway and that this season’s performances have had nothing to do with the manager being tactically inept but is all about unhappiness in the dressing room.
Bankier’s comments blaming the “longer transfer window” for some of the early results is a clear defence of the manager, as are some of the other parts of his statement where he blames everything from the health crisis to the absence of fans in the ground for the way we have nosedived into the tarmac.
At no point does he acknowledge that Lennon might be to blame for any of it.
It’s as if inside Celtic they view us as the only club to have suffered all this.
So Celtic wants Lennon to stay because he will support the weakening of the playing squad in the short to medium term and has “proved” he can get results in the SPLF.
European football is a distant afterthought, although it’s where much of the money comes in.
In terms of the downsizing, the club’s decision-making has virtually guaranteed that it will be necessary, and a lot of things that made no sense suddenly do.
It’s understandable in part; I don’t believe we’ll see fans in stadiums in2021.
Any football club which isn’t backed by an oligarch or which doesn’t have access to vast wealth from TV contracts and which is pretending that we can carry on regardless isn’t run by sane or credible people.
Celtic is at least prepared to face the hard reality of this.
But be under no illusions what this means; the club is taking decisions right now which are going to put the fans in an impossible position.
I said a moment ago that things they’ve done in the course of this campaign which seemed to make no sense suddenly do; let’s start with their decision not to offer virtual match tickets to anyone but season ticket holders.
We know the club could have raised additional monies from doing so; why didn’t they?
It’s because come this season, fans might have found it easier not to renew if they knew they’d see games anyway on a match-by-match basis.
When Celtic sends out those renewal forms the message will be that only those who do renew will be able to watch matches.
The club is going to use every method that it can to blackmail fans into getting behind Lennon and a makeshift, vastly weakened team.
They are not going to offer us any kind of vision here.
That statement is every bit as bad as I feared that it might be.
It makes it clear that Lennon does have a chance to save his job, that nobody inside the club believes he’s reached a point of no return and if that’s the prevailing attitude I think we should all recognise that nothing that happens between now and the end of this campaign is likely to change that view.
Lennon will be at Celtic Park when next season starts, and next season will probably start without fans in the ground and will continue that way for many, many months.
Season ticket renewals are going to take a hit.
But I suspect the board will scare enough people into renewing who otherwise won’t, as well as securing the loyalty of those fans who will simply renew no matter what state the club is in because they are Celtic fans and can’t fathom ever not doing so, and balance the books with player sales that it will see the risk as one worth taking.
Those fans who don’t renew will be put at the bottom of the waiting list; the club’s punishment for their disloyalty in a time of crisis. That some won’t renew because they can’t won’t make a blind bit of difference to Celtic.
Without wanting to be harsh on those who will renew come what may, and I don’t, because I understand that kind of loyalty, and I accept that they are acting in what they believe is the best interests of Celtic as a whole, they are the reason Celtic believes it can treat all of us like shit.
They are why the club feels it can get away with this.
Many, many months ago, when this season still had hope in it, when performances had just started their slow and steady slide, I said that I believed this board would act in defence of its own legacy and remove Lennon before all was lost.
From where I sit right now, with the league campaign over, our proud cup record ended and our European standing pummelled it is clear that these people have no interest in their “legacies” at all nor any idea how to move forward.
I don’t care any longer whether it’s rabbits in the headlights fear which has paralysed them, cluelessness and incompetence or some form of deliberate sabotage … the results are the same.
I no longer believe that we’re going to see a change of manager or the emergence of a long-term strategy.
In short, I am mentally preparing myself for the worst.