Yesterday, a group of Celtic fan organisations released a statement calling for a boycott of all club merchandise until January next year, in a pointed stab at the club over their own “review”, or lack of one as it turned out to be.
To call the response to their call mixed would be an understatement. A lot of fans are furious at the public statement, especially as it has come at a time when the club appears to be putting the chaos of last season behind it and forging a new path forward.
As with many of these things, there is right and wrong on both sides of the debate.
It is easy to be critical of people rocking the boat at a time when the seas are calmer than they’ve been for a while and a little of the feel-good factor is returning to the club, and it seems churlish to have a go at Celtic when the new CEO has just got his feet in the door.
I understand that point of view. McKay is new to the club, and he’s only just formally assumed his role.
He knows we’re a mess, furthermore, and seems to have a plan to clean it up.
Much of what Lawwell and the board had intended to build has been jettisoned by this guy as he looks to see if there are better ways for us to proceed.
Ange is also just starting to formalise his plans for the team, with the onus at the moment of keeping the players who want to be here and moving on those who don’t. He is doing his own full review of both the playing staff and the coaching team.
What these guys need, above all else, is time and space to get on with it.
I appreciate time is in short supply.
The Champions League signing deadline marches towards us with unrelenting speed. We can’t be dithering or delaying. We’re not ready and we need a few more players before the fans will feel at all confident about these two fixtures.
So yes, I can see why some fans are unhappy that the club isn’t getting the opportunity to start moving forward from the sins of last year, and indeed recent years.
Nevertheless, all we have right now is talk.
Fans have done their bit; season tickets sales have been far better than many thought they would be, and certainly far better than our enemies hoped they would be.
The supporters have given their support.
They have been asked to respond and they’ve done so, as usual, and so once again they are beyond reproach.
Promises have been made and those promises need to be kept.
The board might think that because they have the season ticket money in that they can simply ignore us and proceed as before, doing things half-arsed and on the cheap. They are wrong.
I think the directors need to kept on their toes.
I think the board needs to be warned against future betrayals.
I think McKay, as impressive as he seems, needs to be reminded that he might run the club but we are the club, and we built the club and the club stands or falls based on how much we support the plans being laid at the executive level.
The protests and boycotting of merchandise has been deliberately timed.
The announcement was made after the season ticket deadline. If these guys were intent on doing damage to the club, as some of the more ridiculous criticism has said, they would have called for a boycott of those. Even the angriest people in Celtic social media – and I was one of them – only asked that fans delay their season ticket purchases to send a message.
A request that we withhold money from any part of our own club is a huge thing to ask and the groups who have released this statement know that well. They know it will be unpopular amongst much of the rank and file. It took courage to do this.
I might feel a little uneasy about it coming when it does, as people are genuinely working hard to make things better, but I broadly agree with the aims and objectives which lie behind the joint statement and I would endorse much of what it says.
Don’t forget, this is not a call for a permanent boycott or one which aims to bring down the board or anything like that. It’s asking fans to keep their hands in their pockets until we can see where all this talk has led.
If things are clearer in January, then there will be plenty of stuff to buy in the sales. Like everything else this will come down to a matter of choice for the individual. Nobody is going to be shamed for going to the Celtic Store and spending their own money.
I think there are still major changes required as this club.
I want the largest shareholder to get real or put his shares up for sale so that fans can have a chance to buy them. I want relics like Wilson gone from the boardroom. We need a new chairman.
Yet I also believe that McKay is a man fizzing with energy and ideas and that it’s worth waiting to see what he can do. I think we’ll be impressed and pleased with his leadership.
But he too has to know the price of failure, and it will be especially high for him as he has publicly taken responsibility for the appointment of the manager … who, by the way, has also impressed me in a way I never expected.
Neither of these men should take this announcement as a slight on them … indeed, it makes it quite clear that the team and the management will have our support.
The last criticism is that this announcement sews division; I utterly disagree.
The divisions exist and there are still people at our club who are to blame for creating them. This club will not heal, properly, until we know what the future is going to look like and who will play a part in it.
We have a chairman who called the fans anti-Semites.
We have a director who spends his time picking fights with the Scottish Government over every little thing.
We have a shareholder who leaked it to the press that we were “entitled” and that he was keeping a failing manager in place to spite us.
None of this can be allowed to stand or continue.
A confrontation with this board is long overdue. They have failed to articulate a proper vision for us. They have failed to engage. They act as if they don’t understand us at all, and most of them don’t. Desmond, in particular, is a shameless egotist who has no real interest in our club except that it feeds his self-image when we’re winning.
Fans have backed the team. They do not have to back this board. Some form of demonstration was a certainty, and it was even necessary.
You may disagree with the timing, but this was going to happen and it had to happen.
The fact that the organisations have picked a friendly – a meaningless game – should tell you that this isn’t intended to harm Celtic … it’s intended to send a message that those at the top of the club have no right to expect any benefit of the doubt, or to think that good season ticket numbers are a reflection of how they are viewed in the stands.