Celtic Fans Are Right To Feel A Little Disillusioned As Our Club’s Leaders Ignore Us.

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I’ve read a lot of stuff online this week about how ignorant and/or callous it was of Celtic to publish their glowing financial statement when fans were still griping about the price of the Champions League tickets, and others, like me, were still in shock over the closure of the transfer window without the experienced players the manager clearly wanted.

This led many fans to accuse Celtic of being tin-eared at best and outright trolling of its own supporters at worst. Tin-eared I’ll give you, but nobody was being trolled. These things have to be filed and published in a certain time-frame and if you check back to last year, you’ll find that the statement was published on 20 September.

In short, the timing was, in no small matter, dictated by necessity and stock market regulations.

What might have been watered down a little was the chairman’s self-congratulatory “I’m the King of the World” statement which was full of the usual bombast and virtually demanded adoration. In fact, at a time when fans aren’t happy with the prices, to boast about how much money the club has sitting in the bank could not have been more ill-judged.

And of course, it looks even worse in light of our dismal result of the other night and the manager, again, pointing out the inexperience of the team.

I defend this club seven days a week, but there are times when our critics have it right on the nose.

This contrast between the cash we have on hand and the stark fact that we started this campaign with a weaker starting eleven than we ended the last one is devastating and inescapable.

Every bit of stick that is coming our way right now for having that vast surplus whilst the manager has to make do with youth and inexperience is deserved. The club might not be actively trolling us, but it’s still making mistakes.

What’s worse is that these mistakes are the same ones it’s been making for years.

We go into European ties hopelessly ill-equipped almost annually now, prisoners of the strategy. Whilst nobody was advocating that we spent massive sums and then hope for a decent draw, we all knew this team needed quality of a certain type … no-one will convince me that there was no-one out there with the experience we needed and who we could afford.

As I said in another piece this week, I cannot ask or expect the board to put us in a place where we are Pot 2 regulars.

But we’re stuck in Pot 4 and there’s no excuse for that.

The poor quality of some of the sides who have beaten us in qualifiers down through the years is scandalous, and time and time again that has happened because the manager has had to go into those qualification games hopelessly unprepared with signings not in place.

I dread the inevitability – because our co-efficient has tanked – of us having to go into qualifiers some time in the future, because this club routinely fails at them, and it’s precisely because there are people at Celtic who are locked into the prioritising of the balance sheet over all else. I am proud that we operate on a sustainable basis, and I’m alert to the fact that there are UEFA regulations which we won’t test the way some clubs in this city do … and I am proud of that as well.

But our directors should be aware, and they should have known, that bragging on those numbers prior to a Champions League tie where, if we lost, the finger would be pointed squarely at them was not likely to end well.

Part of the problem, of course, and a big part of it, is that we have people in charge of Celtic who are great at business but grossly out of their depth when it comes to analysing and understanding football, but these people don’t realise that they are.

One of the things I hear over and over again after results like that is that the side will grow, and learn, but the strategy makes that impossible.

By the time these players have the experience necessary to do better next time, we’re selling them to replace them with more inexperienced footballers, effectively sending us back to the starting square again.

This clearly isn’t readily apparent to the guys at the top of this club.

They talk about stuff like “the Ajax model” without really understanding it.

Ajax spends big on some of its players, augmenting its tremendous youth talent with ready-made footballers to give them the requisite experience and leadership. All the top clubs in Europe which routinely develop and sell players also spend big sums on footballers who have already made the grade.

We are one of the exceptions, and we don’t try and build … our model is based on selling. That’s the critical fact, and that’s what stops our team from ever evolving past a certain point.

And that certain point is where we are right now; Pot 4, where this level of ambition belongs.

Almost every Celtic fan site knows this and has said it.

Almost every media observer knows this, and has said it.

The manager certainly knows it, and Ange Postecoglou knew it before him and said it.

That our chairman has openly boasted about not paying attention to the media and the views of the fans is bad enough and displays breathtakingly short-sightedness … that those at the top of our house don’t listen to the professionals in the coaching department is far worse.

Celtic’s leadership is arrogant and aloof and thinks it has all the answers and is the source of all wisdom and even their routine defenders would have to admit that is a fact. The difference is, they believe that attitude is justified and some of us just don’t.

So no, I didn’t think that the announcement was trolling. It was lousy timing, and because of the regulations we could not necessarily do anything other than what we did, and release it when we did.

But its smug, self-satisfied tone has left a very bad taste and that could certainly have been handled better.

These people live to luxuriate in good press and the warm glow of the spotlight … when it suits them.

When it doesn’t, they slink off and let the players and the manager take the flak.

For Celtic, a club founded for charitable purposes, to charge the prices we did for these games whilst essentially running as a vast for-profit makes us little better than those energy companies which ran up huge revenues whilst millions across this country had to make huge compromises with their general wellbeing. It is unconscionable in these times of hardship for so many people.

For us to do so after the leadership so obviously made no effort whatsoever to prepare us for these encounters only adds insult to injury and that’s why I very pointedly did not buy tickets for the games.

Not that the club cares. Not that football clubs ever care.

The Lazio game at home is a sell-out.

That’s what football clubs do; they take advantage of the devotion of the supporters. They feed on it, and that’s why so many of the boards of clubs up and down the country have no concern for the fans beyond what money they spend.

They take it for granted.

Our club badly needs fresh thinking.

Those at the top of it badly need a dose of humility, something they won’t get setting the bar against a club which everyone at Parkhead knows is an utter shambles. It’s no great shakes staying ahead of them, and whilst I value our domestic dominance I do so primarily because it’s necessary to open the door to Europe.

And on that front, these guys have chucked it.

They’ll brag on Celtic being “at the top table” and charge our fans premium prices.

Ask them to show even a shred of the corresponding ambition and they don’t want to hear it.

They are right, we are wrong and because they make the decisions this is how it’s going to be, from here until they no longer are.

Today a lot of our friends in the media – we do have some – including ex-players are asking hard questions of these people.

Not that they’ll care.

Fans think we’re having the piss taken out of us, and I’ll partially refute that … but I have an uneasy feeling that it’s something along those lines just the same.

Our directors are vain, egotistical fools, bloated with years of success at Scotland’s only football superpower.

But out there, where it matters, as the co-efficient tumbles and the likelihood of lost revenues and lost glories as a result of that grows … these people are out of their league, but they’re convinced that they’re masters of the universe.

The way they preened in that financial statement was tone deaf, and that’s a generous interpretation. The peacockery of a chairman who should never be near the centre of power after his disastrous ending as CEO was awful. No wonder a lot of our fans are disillusioned right now. They feel ignored and ill-used … well guys, it’s not our imagination.

It’s exactly how this board treats us.

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  • Magua says:

    Peter Lawwell is a preening, egotistical muppet, with no concern for the feelings of the Celtic support. All he-and the rest of them-care about, is filling their boots, at the expense of the football club. What were the protests in 1990-94 all about? The current shower are even worse than the Kelly’s and White’s.

    Hail Hail.

    • Michael McCartney says:

      Get your frustration about this board failing to build on our domination of Scottish football for over 10 years. I’ve got to say as a veteran supporter you can’t even compare them to the White/Kelly dynasties. The two family domination of Celtic couldn’t even build a legacy that Jock Stein and the Lisbon Lions had left them. This was before the handicaps we face now such as EPL TV contracts, the Bosman freedom of contract reform and the new threat of Middle Eastern money poaching players to the Saudi League. We should have been in the top 10 teams in Europe until the 1990’s. The Kelly /White board failed our club big time.
      This board we’ve got now have got carried away with going along the road of project signings and selling on. Hopefully the return of BR will bring about a twin policy of project signings and a smattering of experienced players. C’mon Peter Lawwell you know this makes sense.
      If things don’t change within a year it will be interesting to see BR’s reaction.

  • Eldraco says:

    The battle lines are once again being drawn between the ” business” and the supporters, the board and this manager.

    Why did the board even offer him the job if they or at least a faction were hellbent on hog tying him?.

    Until the support speak with action nothing changes.

  • Andy says:

    Brilliant article guys like yourself must keep beating the drum so people like lawell know how much the vast majority of fans hate him and Dermot Desmond.

  • Paul Reynolds says:

    I couldn’t have put it more succinctly and accurate. Lawell is an arrogant overpaid leech, squandered millions on mediocre players over decades. His renumeration is obscene linked to the turnover and size of the operation when he was CEO, his appointment as chairman is galling to the support. The support either want the club to grow and compete in Europe or be be happy lording it over the weakest league I have witnessed in my 55 Years of supporting the club.


    Can’t fault a thing you wrote.
    They are acting brazenly. Defying logic and without care or fear of consequences.
    They have their plan and all the pieces are falling into place.
    I, personally speaking, think the Board, now that the Abuse case is nearly resolved, is fattening up the financials for a sell off.
    Desmond will get his ‘Golden Share’ while Board members will head to the money trough and Pistol Pete will cash in shares for his ‘Pension Pot’.
    I think that the ‘ feelers have’ reached out.
    Celtic is too big an Organisation and Brand to be permanently incarcerated in this footballing backwater and a country so riven with religious prejudice.
    The Celtic Board, having sampled the ‘Jota’ aperitif, might just have developed a taste for Middle-Eastern Gold.

  • Dan Cowie says:

    Celtic are a PLC who care more about profit margins. a sport version of BP. They know the stadium will be full each home game no matter what, and they take full advantage. The great Celtic atmosphere seems to be more important than the team on the park. Keep winning trophies in Scotland keeps the punters onside as they don’t tire of that. They don’t need improvement, they make enough money as it is especially if one or two project players do well and sell for profit. This is it, this is Celtic, nothing will ever change which is such a huge shame for the many who follow their team religiously.

  • John S says:

    Nat Phillips, experienced player. Few could have predicted the crises of injuries in the defensive area. Those who’ve stepped up have done well, Scales in particular is certainly not fazed and may well prove to be a stalwart for years to come.
    We all want success but we’ve a new manager, a new style, new regulars and we know we’re not going to win the CL.
    Could Celtic spend more ? Yes, but spending, per se, is not a solution. The recent Celtic statement hinted at a closer co-operation with the manager in recruitment.
    Surely, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

  • DixieD says:

    When Ange was in charge we appeared to be preparing better for our second season shot at Europe by getting signings in early in January to give them months to acclimatise and bed in. However this was just a fortunate byproduct of Ange taking advantage of the Asian market during their close season rather than actual forward thinking. This January window will be interesting and if its another failure it will definitely confirm where this boards priorities lie!

  • Jamie Craig says:

    James you’re 100% correct apart from one fact, Champions League quality players will not come to Scotland, not even Tierney and Mctominay. It’s hard but true I’m afraid.

  • Fun time frankie says:

    I hope the green brigade sneetheir time is up tifo,s into the CL game telling liewell ,despicable desmond and the rest of the tory scum on the board that their time is up now get the fuck out of celtic Park, ya bunch of money grabbing tory bastards.

  • Clachnacuddin and the Hoops says:

    Absolutely brilliant journalism there James…

    Aye well – There’s Brendan asked today about the transfer window recently closed and was he happy about it –

    NO…. NO was the answer…

    It’s out in the open now then –

    Interesting transfer windows ahead for sure !

  • Fun time frankie says:

    Sorry that last email was all mixed up hops you got the gist of it ,

  • MICKYBHOY says:

    Well it is now time time for us supporters to vote with our feet and stay away,I know it will be hard to do but it has been done before,we are the the ones who make Celtic what we are not lawwell or desmond .HAIL!HAIL!

  • Effarr says:

    They say you get the government you deserve. By the same token, when you flock like sheep to watch a bunch of over-rated foreign mercenaries who are only good enough for the SPL then you only get the board you deserve. If you don`t have the willpower to stay away from Parkhead for a couple of games to force change, then you need help.

  • king murdy says:

    great article james….but when is all this gonna end…..?

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