Celtic Fans Are Being Mocked By Those Pushing The “Powerless” Peter Lawwell Hypothesis.

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In Martin Scorcese’s fantastic movie Casino the unravelling of the Mob’s well-run Vegas operation starts with a television interview. Sam “Ace” Rothstein tells a reporter that he, in fact, is the man who runs the Tangiers hotel where he is on the books merely as the Entertainment Director, a scam intended to get around the requirement that he hold a gaming license.

The footage is seen by a state official who Rothstein has crossed and so begins the Gaming Commission hearings which would start the process of bringing down the heat, until it got too much to bear and arrests followed and, eventually, the murders to make sure everyone who didn’t fall into line was silenced. All because Rothstein’s ego got the better of him.

Today, a new narrative is being pushed on the Celtic support, infuriated over the January transfer window and the imperilling of our title quest, and it’s this; Peter Lawwell doesn’t actually do anything at Celtic. He is a mere figurehead, carrying no real authority. So why, then, would we seek to remove him from office? After all, he doesn’t actually have any real responsibilities and has no input in decision making! It’s just wasted energy!

Well, if you believe that I’ve got a casino to sell you.

I wrote earlier about gaslighting. This is a clear example of what we’re talking about. We are branded irrational and our concerns scorned as illegitimate although it is manifestly obvious, they aren’t and we’re not. The idea that the chairman of this club doesn’t actually have any sway would be absurd even if you didn’t know his name or what his history was, even if his son wasn’t head of recruitment, or his former number two man the chief executive.

Dermot Desmond sits on the board as a non-executive director. He holds just over 30% of the shares. He’s not the chairman. He’s not the owner.

But there is nobody who does not accept that he wields massive power at Celtic Park, so this idea that only those who hold senior day-to-day roles are the guys who are actually running things is laughable on that basis alone.

Lawwell was at the centre of this club for more than ten years, far and away the most influential person at Celtic on this side of the water and, whether or not you like the guy or how he’s run things, he is one of the most consequential individuals in the history of our club. That’s just a fact. The idea that he is some powerless observer of events is manifestly ridiculous.

It is not that long ago that we were being told that it was Lawwell, as a non-executive director, who was responsible for the club hiring Ange Postecoglou. So much for not having any authority. So much for being on the fringes and taking no role in the club.

The narrative over Lawwell changes to suit those defending him. When there’s an advantage to be gained from promoting him as the centre of all power, they will do it. When they want to keep the heat off him, they will portray his role as nothing more than that of the elder statesman, there to provide what’s known as “institutional memory”, which would be an entirely legitimate use of his talents (and he does have talents, as I’ve always been at pains to point out).

I have been guilty myself of accepting this obvious fiction. During Ange’s first campaign it seemed as if Lawwell really had disappeared into the background and whenever people brought up this idea I told them to just look at the changes we’d made. You could not detect his influence anywhere at the club. Then we hired his son and the veil fell away. He might not have been involved in the day-to-day business, but his influence was as strong as ever.

I was still pretty shocked when they actually put him in the chairman’s office, because that was a clear red flag and I couldn’t believe they would provoke the fans to that extent or make it so obvious that he’d been there behind the scenes all along. I want to kick myself sometimes for the way I’ve been too trusting of the people in charge of this club … I genuinely thought that when he stepped down as CEO that his retaining the board seat was only about his ability to sit on UEFA committees and the governing bodies here at home.

And I was wrong about that. He did continue to serve in that fashion, but we know that he was doing a lot more than that, like a chess player moving his pieces into position. Now his position is as strong as it ever was, and the strategy is back to what it was.

Judge it on the evidence, you don’t have to listen to me or those saying Lawwell plays no real role. Just think about it logically, and you’ll know. And if you want to be able to put it in context, look at previous Celtic chairmen as a useful guide.

Brian Quinn ran things from the background, but he undisputedly set policy from the top. He was the guy who devised, and started to implement, the zero-debt strategy.

He was followed by John Reid, the very definition of an “activist chairman” who got himself front and centre and put Celtic on the attack. Others might have hated him. I always thought he was exactly the kind of man we required in that role, and that our aggressive pursuit of our interests was absolutely the right thing to do.

By the time of his departure Lawwell’s role and influence had expanded massively; he was deep into his “director of football” phase … it’s not for nothing that we always considered Ian Bankier to be no more than a nodding donkey. The Man Who Wasn’t There.

It all depends what sort of chairman you want to be. The CEO’s role is the same. Michael Nicholson is as different from Lawwell himself as it is possible to be; he is low-key, unflashy, content to be in the background, feeling no need to be in front of the cameras or giving interviews or acting as a public face. He leaves that to the guy in the dugout.

Contrast that with how Lawwell behaved in the same job. Lawwell was notorious for his tight control over things, and he loved the limelight and being centre stage. He ran everything from the centre. He is temperamentally unable to behave in any other way.

That’s why it’s impossible to believe he’s not active in his current post. Common sense should tell you that as long as he has a place on the board, he has influence. This is what the recently published official club report says about the directors;

“To this end, key decisions, including financial policies, budgets, strategy and long term planning, major capital expenditure, material contracts, risk management and controls, health and safety and the appointment of the Group’s principal external advisers, Directors, football manager and senior executives, are all subject to Board approval.”

And by virtue of his job as chairman he sits at the head of the board. Even if you think I talk regular nonsense, just look at that, it’s there in black and white. And if it wasn’t so, there would be no need to defend the guy would there?

If he’s got no power and no influence, there’s no need for all this covering fire. Lawwell himself could just step down from the role and neither he nor we would even notice the difference, right? I mean who needs all this hassle who isn’t doing anything anyway?

Those who want to mount a defence for this board are welcome to do it, and they will. They are good at it. They’ve had years of practice at it.

But stuff like this just insults our intelligence. That’s why it needs to be refuted. We cannot continue allowing these people to treat us like idiots.

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  • Jim says:

    The ‘ Kool Aid Kid’ at it again, over on CQN, eh?
    Stunning naivety.

    Superb articles today James, by the way.

  • Bob (original) says:

    An overbearing CEO of 17 years is never going to be a figurehead Chairman;

    and that is why it was a poor governance decision to have PL back on the Board.

    Yes, on paper as a ‘Non-Exec Chairman’ he has no operational / executive

    responsibilities, but in practice most would regard him as the ‘shadow CEO’.

    Michael Nicholson’s silence – especially at a time of discontent –

    merely reinforces the belief that PL is pulling the strings in the background.


  • Mick says:

    If Lawwell Snr. doesn’t do anything at all, well, surly relieve him of his duties, sorry, non-duties, and free up some money for a decent striker. Because waiting for Kyogo to hit form is definitely going to hamper us in the run in.
    And while at it he can take junior with him…
    That would serve us all better, far, far better…


  • Clara says:

    PL stood down after the 10 IAR disaster was him to get him out the limelight and to pretend DD actually gave a flying f**k about what happened, the price for PL standing down was his boy getting a top job with Celtic, nothing in Lawell Jnr’s CV should have had him anywhere near that job.

  • Jim(original?) says:

    Spot on again James.
    Who is this interloper, this Jim?, even talks like me, lol.
    Maybe I need to do a Bob and append with original( I think anyway).
    But ofc , being a Jim he talks nothing but sense, eh James?, which is my christened name btw, ?

  • Clachnacuddin and the Hoops says:

    He certainly knows how to make money for himself and Celtic as well…

    Like us all – I just wish he would spend it –

    He thinks that he is good at poker – He evidentiary isn’t at all…

    I wonder if he is as tight with the purse strings in his personal life as he tragically is with the purse strings at Celtic Football Club !

  • Roddybhoy says:

    Paul Brennan is Peter Lawells love child. He’s a snake

  • Michael McCartney says:

    The debacle of the McGinn saga was enough for me, if DD had the clubs interests at heart Lawwell should have been sacked there and then.
    For 1/2 a million quid he cost Celtic the heir apparent to Scott Brown, McGinn would have been a Celtic great for years or would have earned Celtic at least 30 million quid a few years down the line.
    The guy isn’t as smart as he thinks he is, Anyone else would have been happy enough to work away behind the scenes on Celtics behalf at UEFA, but no he wanted back into the limelight and he’s now causing division within the club.If we win this League BR deserves a lot of credit, but he has to stamp his authority more forcibly at the club.

  • KC67 says:

    I’d give him a copy of Championship Manager as a parting gift after booting his fat arse out of the door.

    Like a lot of people, I can’t stand that waster.

  • James Archibald says:

    lawwell trump separated at birth HH

  • Archie says:

    The rise and fall of Paul67. You could write a book about it!

  • Jim says:

    If lawwell is a mere figure head and doesn’t do much for the club , why is he on an over inflated salary in the millions.

    The ego is such delusional he actually thinks that we , as paying fans will simply accept that this is his only involvement in the club .

    This is how the puppet master would like fans to think that he is a mere figure head returning to oversee the running of our club simply in a hands free appointment.

    It is of no coincidence that things are back to where we were years ago when his interference in every aspect of the club has to be sanctioned solely by him before any decisions were made .

    This is a guy that thinks everything that happens has to have his authority and every statement is to be believed .

    He’s fooling no one as again his clammy hands are in every department of the club pulling the strings once more with his lapdog son trained to obey.

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