Yesterday, John Paul Taylor was being subjected to his typical barrage of questions when he told the fans that the club was aware of the need to communicate more openly with the supporters “in the short term”.
He seemed to suggest that something might happen fairly soon on that front, although if they simply come out and tell us to be patient folk won’t like it.
But the simple truth is that although the club is accused of telling the fans nothing – and I am one of the ones who’s been loudly shouting that at them – the truth is actually a little more complicated than that.
The truth is, the club isn’t as silent or as reticent as it appears to be on the surface.
Indeed, as I’ve recently discovered, the club is in regular dialogue with various supporter’s organisations.
The problem is that only one of them bothers to communicate that.
The Celtic Trust has been quite brilliant in publicising its discussions with the club, and they have laid out the issues that they want the club to engage with them on.
The Celtic Trust is an organisation with credible leadership, a credible plan and no interest whatsoever in a “relationship” which involves toeing the line and being subservient in exchange for seats in the stand.
Am I suggesting that other organisations do?
I’ll be honest, I wish I knew what some of them do.
My guess would be “not much” based on some of what I hear about them.
I do know that their avowed policy is not to rock the boat, which makes me think that they are toothless organisations, which suits a guy like Lawwell because he’s essentially unchallenged.
Some of these guys have had meetings with Lawwell for years and the idea that they have ever questioned his judgement or challenged his “leadership” is pretty ridiculous.
I know how those meetings go; everyone at them feels comfortable around the table.
To me, that’s part of the problem, maybe a big part of it.
Any meeting with fans where Lawwell feels comfortable is one where not a lot of forward progress will be made.
Even when the club was doing well, that man should never have felt comfortable with supporter reps; their job is to hold him to account.
Any CEO who looks forward to meetings with those who are supposed to hold him accountable is getting a free ride.
Not only have these supporter reps had regular meetings with Lawwell, they’ve also, if my information is correct, already sat down with Dominic McKay.
And you thought, as I did, that McKay wasn’t talking openly to the fans … well I’ve been told he is, but no-one’s publicising that fact.
If I had a sit-down with McKay, I’d want people to know that.
I’d think McKay would too, lest he get the reputation, early, for being someone who hides from the supporters.
That, indeed, is what many people have accused him of.
The trouble is, it just isn’t true.
If he’s met with supporter reps, it’s their job to convey the content of those meetings to the people they are supposed to be speaking for.
Doubtless some of them will say there’s nothing to tell; do they really expect that to fly at a time when we’re all scrambling around for news?
I’d say in answer to such a claim that perhaps they should have been asking harder questions.
That perhaps they use a little more imagination.
That they prepare better for the meetings.
I’d suggest they aren’t taking advantage of the situation to put forward an agenda on behalf of the people they represent.
At the very least, they should be seeking answers on behalf of their memberships.
I mean, there are dozens of questions I’d want answers to if I was meeting that guy.
He can’t refuse to answer them all.
He can’t hand-waive every point of inquiry as something that is “ongoing” that he’s not in a position to talk about.
Take season tickets.
Will there be a price freeze or a reduction?
Does the club have a position on the “added value” issue?
Will they support the Trust’s shares plan?
When will the forms go out?
Will there be a managerial announcement before then?
Are we expected to believe that none of these questions have answers?
Or is it just that none of them have been asked?
Even if the answers to them are “we understand how people feel and we will present something soon.”
This is just one area in which you could hammer away at Celtic officials if you were able to get in a room with them, and I refuse to believe that none of those questions would illicit information which the average fan would find useful in understanding where we are.
There are a dozen pressing questions on how the club does PR.
There are issues over whether Lawwell will have a continued role at the club.
Whether we’re looking for a director of football or a technical director, which are entirely separate things.
There are internet rumours about the entire upper echelon of the scouting department leaving. Is that true and if it is how does that impact our ability to buy players in the coming summer?
Has there been forward progress between the club, the SFA, UEFA and the government on what kind of transfer system will survive Brexit?
What’s the club’s view on the Champions League changes?
Are we ever going to get serious about Financial Fair Play in the SPL?
Come on; you wouldn’t run out of questions to ask if you had a shot at it with these people.
If McKay doesn’t have answers to those questions Lawwell will.
If there are no hard questions being asked at those meetings, what exactly is being discussed?
What is on the agenda?
If there are no substantive debates – and especially after the season we’ve just had – then what’s the point in even bothering to have these meetings in the first place?
A lot of the people who wind up at these things – and this is a criticism at Ibrox and elsewhere, not one specific to Celtic – act more like gushing fan-boys swooning over their idols than serious people who are supposed to be there to represent organisations and members.
I get the impression that many of them see Lawwell as their pal.
What they fail to understand is that he is a hard-nosed and ruthless professional and certainly does not seem them the same way.
What they think of as a cosy relationship is a one-way street.
He never forgets what his own job is, and he never forgets what his own priorities are.
I’ve met people like that, in politics.
Jim Murphy was capable of making every person he had a beer with feel like they were his best mate.
At the same time, if you ceased to be useful to him or challenged his views (and anyone who did would swiftly make him look like the idiot he was) you’d find out just how slippery and self-serving a person you were dealing with.
Perhaps these people haven’t had a hard enough lesson in that.
Of course, if you never challenge such a person in the first place, and you’re willing to dance to his tune, then you never need to learn that lesson at all, do you?
But then, what use are you to anybody else?
It is easy to get cosy with proximity to “power” … it takes a certain character not to be intimidated or swayed or flattered into defending or protecting the status quo.
The people who run our club aren’t the only people who were asleep at the wheel here.
We’ve had problems with Lawwell and others on the board for years.
The strategy has never been as good as the on-field successes made it look.
Serious problems have been ignored and I can’t help thinking that the club has been given an easy time of it by a lot of the people who were in a position to question some of the ways in which key decisions were being made.
I think it would have been harder for our so-called custodians to have gotten away with some of their dreadful decisions if people in positions of responsibility had held their feet to the fire.
What I’m saying is that Celtic’s silence isn’t quite as cut and dry as you might believe.
The club is not completely ignoring the supporters, it’s just that those who do have access to the power brokers inside Parkhead are not communicating what they learn, quite possibly because they aren’t pushing hard enough to get real information.
The average fan is being so badly let down here, on all fronts and you can only hold so much against the people inside the walls. If they were subjected to proper scrutiny at every available level then they’d perhaps be motivated to move a little quicker.
The Celtic Trust is doing a good job because its people understand that their role is to work on behalf of the shareholders and to represent their views … I don’t know what other people think they are doing or whose views they think they represent.
If they aren’t holding the club to account, then I suggest their members start to put them under the microscope instead.
Maybe then we’ll see some action.