The Celtic Trust’s Leaders Have Damaged Their Cause And That’s Bad News For Us All.

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Yesterday was the Celtic AGM and I don’t think it was a glorious outing in any way, shape or form.

I was very pleased to see that the best contributions came from my friend and colleague Joe McHugh from VideoCelts who asked some excellent questions and wrote some excoriating blogs in the aftermath of the event, one of which echoes my own thoughts on the subject almost exactly.

I’ll put that one up later. Suffice to say, he was brilliant.

Aside from a daft call for our board to condemn Israel, as though that were the job of a football club’s directors, as thought it would shake the foundations of the state and not just embarrass us and alienate some of our friends, the worst thing that happened was a representative of The Celtic Trust standing up and “standing with The Green Brigade.”

I know whoever that was wasn’t speaking for the shareholding as a whole, so on whose behalf, and with who’s authority, did they get up there and make such a statement?

It echoes the one they put out a few weeks ago.

The shareholders, their members, were in that room. They were the people who voted overwhelmingly to re-elect the current slate of directors, which The Trust opposed. That’s how much these people speak for their members. Their members rejected their advice.

I find their uncritical defence of The Green Brigade dismaying.

Have they not read the club’s lengthy account of why they took this action? The Celtic Trust used to be a responsible organisation; has that changed? Their defence of loutish behaviour echoes previous calls on behalf of pyro, which I’d remind them is illegal.

These folk are meant to represent their members a Hell of a lot better than this.

It sounds to me as if their executive was only representing itself.

Someone told Michael Nicholson his job is to defend our fans, apparently in all circumstances and apparently at all costs, which is a completely unacceptable demand to make of anyone at the club.

Because hard as if will be for some of these people to believe, our fans occasionally do things that cannot and must not be defended.

The PFLP banners are a case in point.

Illegal use of fireworks and smoke bombs in crowded areas is another.

Although I recognise some people might disagree with me on the finer points of those issues, surely there is no defence to be made for fighting with police, violence against stewards and threats against fellow fans?

When The Celtic Trust’s spokespeople stand up at the AGM and say they stand with The Green Brigade they are endorsing all of that behaviour and not only saying that it’s perfectly fine with them but presuming to speak for the whole of our shareholding class, and that’s not on.

If I were a Trust member, I’d be asking for a vote of no confidence in them.

Michael Nicholson sat there yesterday and told them straight that he has seen CCTV footage which proves the central thrust of Celtic’s charges.

Does that not matter to these people at all?

If Celtic has done this out of some nasty motivation, what is that motivation? What is Celtic’s objective here? What would be worth risking a split in your own fan base? A simple disagreement over a flag? That’s not credible. It’s senseless. Yet that is what some folk believe.

The Celtic Trust membership certainly has members in Israel and amongst the Jewish community.

What must they be thinking right now?

The worst thing, from The Trust’s point of view, is that they have damaged their own cause, and that’s bad news for all of us, as another point that was raised made clear.

The Ibrox club has recently put together a Fan Advisory Board and whilst I’d question the sanity of them doing that, the question was asked yesterday about whether Celtic intends to do the same.

Imagine you’re on Celtic’s board right now being asked to proceed with that when they are faced with the perverse spectacle of the shareholders organisation apparently in the hands of an anti-PLC militancy.

That idea is dead in the water.

The Trust’s other great objective, having a fan on the board, is dead in the water.

Not that this idea had gained much traction in the first place, but it certainly won’t now.

This is why a lot of clubs don’t trust the fans enough to put them on the board, but you would have thought that a shareholders group would have been comprised of folk with more sense than this.

They have torpedoed their own agenda.

Celtic has tried really hard with fan engagement.

It has put together fan forums. It has invited fan media to participate in its events. It has allowed us access to the manager and the players, and whilst it’s not everything we would have wanted, the club knows that letting us get the foot in the door is only the start and we will want widened access as time goes by.

The club is also great at answering our questions.

A few of my stories over the past few months have come from the club, either through them contacting myself and other fan media outlets or through us contacting them with inquiries and raising concerns. The comments by the Israeli manager and the club’s subsequent condemnation of them, through fan media, is a case in point.

Don’t think for a minute that I believe this board to be perfect or that this is some defence of them.

When I said Joe McHugh was brilliant he was, and his were not gentle questions nor his comments and articles in the aftermath in any way supportive.

I found some of that to be lamentable yesterday, such as Dermot Desmond’s son openly stating that he and his daddy, who again couldn’t be bothered to attend and face ordinary supporters, intend to treat Celtic as a family concern far into the future.

Michael Nicholson’s assertion that Ange Postecoglou was the guy responsible for the Mark Lawwell appointment was so difficult to accept that I laughed.

Postecoglou was already planning his next move at the time, had turned down a long-term contract and has since admitted he never intended to stay at Parkhead.

So are they saying they gave veto power on a position of immense importance to a guy who they must have known had a foot out the door? And what a coincidence that his “only” pick happened to be the son of the chairman, right? What are the odds on that?

I don’t believe it for a minute.

And if it’s true it’s hardly any great shakes either, as that’s a lamentable piece of decision making in the context of the Australian’s lack of a long-term commitment to us. Why were we building the machine for his use when he had no intention of hanging around?

Taken with Desmond Jnr’s remarks, are we being primed to accept a Desmond as chairman next? Or another Lawwell? Is that what our future looks like, with the kids taking over and them passing it on to their kids, like Celtic was a thing to be inhereted?

That kind of thing should be well behind us. We’ve seen what happens when a couple of families control the destiny of this club. It’s an unacceptable scenario.

And this is why shareholders should be so thoroughly pissed off at that dire spectacle yesterday when their representative stood up there in front of the decision makers and planted their organisation firmly on the side of people who have been banned from the ground for acting like louts.

If we’re going to prevent this from being Desmond, Lawwell & Sons FC the people who run that organisation need to be credible and sensible

Yesterday they were neither.

That was horrendous.

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  • Martin says:

    I’m conflicted to be honest. I agree their line of questions were pointless and unhelpful. But it did force statements at the AGM, which can’t be underestimated. As lying at an AGM is a serious offence (sackable), the fact Nicholson was happy to state he had seen evidence pretty much confirms for me the GB have been guilty of the things they’re accused of.

    For many of us, who find pyro etc unacceptable but hate seeing fans excluded and held some hope for some of the GB getting back in, that’s significant.

    Then Israel stuff was bonkers, as you say. The most celtic would ever say is “we of course hope for a peaceful solution and end to suffering of innocents worldwide” because that’s all anyone can say.

    Some of these guys do embarrass themselves, but let’s not forget why they’re there… They paid money and helped the club when we needed it. They have the right to ask daft questions.

  • Kieran Connelly says:

    How much are they paying you, James?

  • William says:

    Great piece of writing, what I still can’t get my head around is why are so many Celtic fans more concerned on politics outwith our football club , do these people really support Celtic or are they just political fanatics more interested in doing as much harm to the club as they can.

  • Ray says:

    James , you fail to mention the massive hike in the boards salaries , but that suits you fine being a puppet of the board

  • Roonsa says:

    So the appointment of Mark Lawwell is down to someone who is no longer at the club? That’s hardly the kind of backing you’d want to give to someone who you want to retain as part of the club infrastructure.

    If the appointment of the head of scouting and first team recuritment is decided by the team manager, does that mean that Brenda can make a call on whether or not Mark Lawwell is executing his role successfully?

    Thanks for reporting on this. I am not aware of Joe McHugh so I look forward to reading your take on the issues you agreed with said gentleman on. However, as much as it pains me to say it, I feel more and more that the good words put out by guys like you are amounting to no more than a fart in the wind.

    Like it or not, Celtic FC Plc is a closed shop.

  • Roonsa says:

    Sorry, Brenda was a genuine typo. I know that’s what the chimps call him.

    Can’t you allow us to edit posts after submitting, James? I usually do proof read stuff before pressing send but that one slipped through the net.

  • king murdy says:

    great article james…..

  • Mr Vincent McSherry says:

    looks like the Celtic Trust has become an over age section of the GB!

  • Charlie Dornan says:

    You are 100% Spot on here,James…Bravo,M8…???

  • Ray says:

    Well I hadn’t read the other article at ghat time so why respond with the stone stupid reply ? Everyone can’t agree with everything you write

    • James Forrest says:

      I wasn’t going to miss that story, man, I thought Lawwell’s comments on that were absolutely ridiculous.

      I do object to being called a board apologist, when anyone who’s read this blog for a while knows that I’m not.

      • Ray says:

        Well James, we can agree to differ, I grew up watching celtic and the jungle was my second home ,I loved being able to sing the old songs in support of my team and not be criticised by fellow supporters, We need the Green Brigade to provide the atmosphere that was badly lacking in a 6-0 victory over Aberdeen, I have nothing in common with a Celtic board who do not care about the fans

        • James Forrest says:

          HH my friend. Thanks for that.

          • Ray says:

            Thanks James , I just wish we could all put all our efforts into bring this currant board to task , the result in madrid was all to to do with the boards.lack of investment in the summer while boasting about record.profits , let’s put pressure on the board not the Green Brigade HH.

  • Effarr says:

    We talk about R4ngers share as being confetti. The Celtic shares that are in the hands of the ordinary shareholders like myself are of no more worth, voting wise, than confetti. It`s actually laughable to see
    supposed intelligent human beings holding their cards up in support, or lack of, for resolutions that have
    already been decided long before the meeting. How can anyone think they can change anything with a handful of shares, and that includes the total sum of all the ordinary shareholders, against the multi-millions of shares owned by the likes of Desmond himself, not to mention Lawell and the rest of the
    shysters on the board. And by the way, only to mention one, when is Bryan Wilson meaning to call it a day? I, even, feel embarrassed every time I see his picture among the overweight grey mob sitting in the directors` bothy at the games.

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