Yesterday, we released our financial results for last season, and in the context of that disastrous year most people actually thought they were pretty good.
Making a loss is never something to boast about, but huge damage was inflicted on our club by the ravages of the global health crisis.
Once again, the supporters came through however.
Ian Bankier is not a Celtic supporter. He has never been a Celtic supporter.
Phil Mac Giolla Bhain caught him out at his very first press conference when he asked him a simple question about his first Celtic game and who his first Celtic hero was; he got a rambling, shambling horror of an answer.
Phil knew that he would flap at that question; Bankier wasn’t a Celtic fan, as advertised.
Indeed, he’s a rugby fan with no interest in football.
I’d be willing to bet that Ian Bankier has never once, in his life, put a penny into our club.
Yet there he sits, at the top of the house.
There he’s sat for years now, offering nothing, a puppet on a string pulled from Ireland.
This is a man who has, several times, gratuitously insulted our fans. This is a man whose entire time as chairman has been a vapid demonstration of what hiding in the back looks like. A chairman should be a leader. What a joke.
We live in an era of high visibility, where those in a public role should be putting themselves front and centre on a regular basis.
I’ve seen Celtic chairmen who did that, in years gone by, before everyone knew how to use the internet, before 24-hour television was a thing, before blogs and podcasts and more ways to get in front of people than ever before.
John Reid used to attend fan events. He was always in the press, talking about the club and his ideas for it. He led from the front on issues such as The Famine Song. He was the guy who signified a decisive break with the idea of us as “the other side of the coin” from those at Ibrox. A lot of our fans might not have liked him, but he left an imprint on Celtic.
Brian Quinn was another leader. He came from banking, but he understood communications and leading by example. He talked to the press. He made himself available. He articulated a vision for the club. He treated the fans with respect.
Reid and Quinn had gravitas. One came from the top levels of politics and the other from the highest levels of finance. Bankier is a whiskey salesman. He’s not a strategic thinker or a leader of men. I have never been even slightly impressed by him.
Like Nicholson, he’s a corporate drone.
His latest long-winded statement to the financial report was preposterous. We are supposed to accept that the club has “drawn a line” under the last campaign? That’s the problem, as should be shockingly obvious to anyone who thinks about it for two seconds.
Two people fell on their swords for that disgrace, Lennon and Lawwell. Lawwell remains on the board in an emeritus position.
His number two now occupies his former seat.
If you want me to put this in a political context, the modernisers are now weaker than they were and the reactionary elements have a stronger hold than ever before. And it was their brilliance that caused last season’s disaster in the first place and which hamstrings us today.
Bankier wants last year stuck in the rear-view mirror as though it were a lightning strike instead of a colossal failure of leadership and vision. The appointment of Nicholson shows how little has actually changed; in short, it shows that nothing has actually changed.
A real chairman, a real leader, would have taken that opportunity to signify that real changes were coming, that the club took last year’s failure seriously, that they saw it as a warning that something had gone very badly wrong with the strategy.
He would have announced a strategic review, overseen by top experts, and he would have committed the club to excellence in the appointment of a new CEO and promised the manger every resource that the organisation could commit.
There was none of that, and it wasn’t just the absence of such a vision that should have concerned us but the lack of recognition that we might even need one. It was as if years like the last one just happen, that they are part of the cycle, that nobody is at fault.
These people are lazy and arrogant and out of touch. The whole lot of them.
But Bankier sums up their general attitude and their contempt for the rest of us.
This guy does not believe there are lessons to be learned here. He doesn’t think we need a vision as long as we can stay fractionally ahead of our rivals. And when we don’t? “Hey let’s draw a line under that and move on.” It is ghastly.
This must be Bankier’s last financial statement. This should be the last time he signs off on one of these as chairman. He has been a dreadful custodian, and those who point to the trophy haul under his tenure might as well be hailing the club chef for the same thing because their impact and their importance to those achievements is broadly the same.
Bankier will be remembered. That much is certain. Some of us will make damned sure that he is.
The Celtic chairman who called our own fans anti-Semites will have a permanent place in the Hall of Shame regardless of everything else. But his “leadership” coincided with some of the worst decision making any of us has seen from a Celtic board since the White’s and Kelly’s.
It is in their orbit that he will be remembered.
Not as a titan of Celtic but as a cautionary tale; he’s what happens when you opt for place-men and nodding dogs at the top of an organisation instead of people fizzing with ambition and ideas.
Ian Bankier is a triumph of mediocrity.
This is where he should finally bow out.