Celtic Fan Groups Have Been Way Too Passive On UEFA’s Proposed Changes

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The news this morning that fans organisations of some of the biggest clubs in England have written to the European Club Association expressing their disgust at proposed changes to the Champions League comes as no surprise to me whatsoever.

Anyone who has followed this matter closely, as clearly a lot of them have, are shocked and appalled by what UEFA is proposing.

The quality sports media south of the border has been largely damning of what the European governing body is trying to ram through and their own association is concerned and not hiding their own disquiet.

Here, in Scotland, the sports media, which appears not to have bothered looking too closely at what is about to happen, tries to get Celtic fans excited by pointing out how good the changes might be for our club.

Having given them the examination that our media has not I cannot, for the life of me, see what it is that The Daily Record and others like here.

These proposals are a disaster. Football’s firmament has been steadily weakened over the years by the influx of big money to certain clubs and these changes will do nothing to reverse that trend; indeed, they will accelerate it.

The game will soon be unrecognisable from what it was when we were punching our weight and getting to Seville.

Yet the SFA is almost entirely silent, although this is massive and certainly doesn’t do our clubs any favours. Their utter failure to represent our clubs well is echoed in Celtic’s own failure.

Lawwell thinks of himself as a high-flier hob-nobbing with the game’s elite but this is yet another example of how his preening makes him feel good but does nothing at all for our club.

We are always told that having his “voice” in the room is good for us and for the game in Scotland as a whole, but when it has brought no tangible benefits whatsoever I question the validity of that claim.

But a lot of folk do believe it, and as a consequence Lawwell has been allowed to play a role as the sole voice of our club on this matter.

Why has it taken the fans of some of the richest clubs to defend the core values of football? Why are our own supporter’s groups mute on this? The need for a single unifying body which speaks on behalf of fans in this country has never been more critical, as if it’s left to individual organisations which speak for individual clubs we’re never going to be properly heard.

One of the areas in which we’ve failed badly is in holding the club to account over their failures at the SFA. Years of winning took the focus away from the need for genuine reforms.

That matter is finally getting the scrutiny that it deserves, but I regard it is as the most egregious example of Celtic fans – not the club but the fans – being asleep at the wheel.

This is a close second. European football has been upended around us, and I have never seen our fan organisations muster up a single word of criticism in all this time.

We “leave it to Lawwell” and because we do the club feels no pressure to turn up the heat under the SFA, who can influence things more than our club acting alone at the ECA ever will.

The power dynamics here are badly skewed against us; there is no doubt about that.

Lawwell has not made that any better in his foolish choice of alliances.

His decision to cosy up with Ajax – who support the current proposals because their club will be the prime beneficiary of the change which takes “past European performance” into account – was a complete failure to understand the political long game they were playing. Their victory comes at our expense.

I’m not saying our fans should be storming the headquarters in Nyon; our own club is the conduit through which we should make our voices heard, but like Celtic itself we appear almost content to have all these changes happen around us on the proviso that we can squeeze into the groups once in a blue moon.

It’s not good enough, not by a long way.

Fans across Europe are furious about these proposals, and that’s partly because their medias are paying attention, their associations are watchful and partly because the fans themselves are.

In Scotland our media is silent. The governing body is silent. Our club, in one of its panicked statements earlier in the year, talked about these proposals as if they were going to be some kind of game changer for us and I wrote at the time how dishonest that was.

It’s up to the fans to stop leaving this to other people, people who will not represent us properly.

It is time to stand up to this garbage.

Because so far, we have failed to.

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