As Dave King was heading out of Ibrox, he made a “prediction” which most of us sniggered at. He talked about Celtic as “a house of cards” that would come down the moment the first wall collapsed. I said then that it was wishful thinking.
I saw no sign that it would happen.
Then came last season and all its dreadful consequences.
Many have suggested that King’s bombast has been vindicated. They are wrong. Celtic still stands. The collapse hasn’t happened.
The power of this club remains.
The changes at the top of the house, both those which have been made already and those still to come, will make us stronger, not weaker.
Dominic McKay, by virtue of being the CEO at Parkhead, becomes, automatically, the most powerful person in Scottish football. Ange Postecoglou can dominate the headlines with every word that comes out of his mouth.
Legends are waiting to be forged in the coming campaign.
The success of Celtic lies with these men, yes, and the decisions they make, but the strength of Celtic has always lay elsewhere, in the stands.
This was what King meant when he said that we were a house of cards. He believed that the loss of a single title would destroy the commitment the fans have to the club. Yet even with widespread anger against the board, that hasn’t happened.
I have no idea what the final season ticket sales are.
I can tell you that in spite of the club not extending the deadline that several fans I know have been able to secure their season tickets after its expiry. I also know, though, that when McKay tells the press that we’ve sold more season tickets than any other club in Scotland that he is playing it straight.
It was a testing time for our supporters and that we have stepped up to the mark is remarkable.
It wasn’t just last season, but the effects of the global health crisis and the uncertainty over finances and jobs, not to mention whether or not fans would get into games.
I personally thought that selling out season tickets would have been a challenge even if we’d won the league.
I had real fears that this confluence of circumstances might actually cause a summer of real uncertainty behind the scenes at Parkhead.
But the fans continue to amaze me.
And they have shocked those on the other side of the city who were telling themselves we were on the way to serious financial shocks.
You have no idea how widely held was the view that we’d be lucky to sell out half the ground, nor the confidence amongst the Peepul that our club would soon be on its knees.
But this is part of the pattern for them; the belief that Celtic was one crisis away from going to the wall has been prevalent over there for nearly a decade, in spite of not one outward sign that any such thing is ever going to happen.
On a commercial level we’re simply too well run for that.
I know a lot of people got their tickets late; the idea that it was our best chance to send a message to the board whilst not hurting the club was a strong one for many people. I spoke to a lot of people who were holding off and they were never going to let their anger harm Celtic itself. They will find other ways to send a message to the board.
Even at our darkest moment, there was never any sign that the club would “collapse like a house of cards.” Even a modest season ticket boycott – the most I ever thought there might be – was something that could have been survived.
The club always planned to sell Ajer, Christie and Edouard. Those sales would have been more than enough to make up for any season ticket shortfall whilst giving the manager money to spend at the same time.
We went into the health crisis with a surplus.
That’s what the surplus was for; a bad season or series of them. It’s not even clear every penny of it went up in smoke. We sold players in January and brought in around £14 million … that’s made a big difference.
Celtic fans have assured that we stay in front of them.
Our directors can tell themselves that they are the geniuses who keep the machine on the road, but in fact that’s us.
As long as we are here this club will never collapse.
We would never have allowed Celtic to get into the state Rangers did; that’s the part of it that they miss, that’s the part King never understood.
Rangers fans let their club die and they only supported the NewCo because it was built on the Survival and Victim lies, and the latter in particular; their “journey” was fuelled on a sense of grievance more than loyalty.
Celtic fans are a different breed.
We genuinely get it and we genuinely care.
We would never have let our club die.
Christ, we won’t even allow our club to become weak.
We are what holds this club together.
Others might forget that. We never do.