Celtic Fans Cannot Afford To Wait For This Board To Reform Itself. We Need To Act.

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There is an old Polish joke, from the days of Soviet Communism, which comes to mind when thinking about the Celtic board.

Two old timers are debating the collapsing economic situation and one asks the other if, in fact, there is a plan somewhere, no matter how outrageous, that will solve all their problems. The guy answers him by saying that there are, in fact, two plans; one is practical and the other is miraculous.

One of them, he says, involves every holy man in the country saying a prayer and the angels coming down from heaven and fixing their problems for them. That, he says, is the practical plan. In the miraculous one, Soviet Communism reforms itself and all their troubles disappear.

You get the point? We’d be as well saying a prayer as waiting for this board to change course and inject a little life into this club again. First, they don’t know how. Secondly, in their arrogance they don’t even believe that anything at Celtic is wrong.

These guys are severely infected by Jerry Krause syndrome.

They are convinced that it is they who have brought the successes of the past decade into being, that we have nice things only because they have provided them.

That not one single brick of “modern Celtic” was built by these people, that the season ticket income is still our main source of revenue and that it is, in fact, the fans who keep the club functioning appears not to dawn on them at all.

It was Krause, who whilst General Manager of the Chicago Bulls uttered the infamous words that “Players and coaches don’t win championships; organizations win championships.” In short, little fat GMs are as responsible for putting the ball in the basket as the greatest player of all time and having one of the best managers in the history of the game.

As if to prove the point, Krause set about dismantling that team. He let Phil Jackson go, saw Jordan and other key players follow him out of the club and he then tried to construct another dynasty. And what happened? Phil Jackson went to the Lakers and stormed to further success and the Bulls have never won an NBA title since.

No-one who has ever repeated Krause’s spurious claim, or subscribes to it, can explain why success at top sports teams seems only to come about when they hire the right coaches or sign the right players. It is that critical combination which elevates the mundane to a greater level.

The directors may hire the manager, but they don’t make the winning happen. All that is down to the man in the dugout, and when he picks his signings that’s when the real magic occurs.

At Celtic, we’ve benefited from two things; having had two outstanding coaches in the last decade in first time Rodgers and in Ange Postecoglou.

One of those guys we sickened so much that he quit.

That led to the Lennon appointment and the loss of a title. Postecoglou was nothing but a happy accident, a lottery winner’s triumph, more down to luck than judgement, and the people who boast about having been convinced by him allowed him to sign a one year rolling contract and then could not get him to commit to anything longer.

These people are convinced of their own genius. They will not simply wake up on the morning after we lose this title (if we do) and recognise their role in that. There’s no more chance of it than there is of those Trump supporters who believe every lie that comes out of his mouth suddenly having an epiphany and casting their votes for Joe Biden in November.

Don’t count on it. Don’t expect it. I cannot say this enough; these people do not believe that they have done anything wrong. They literally refuse to see what’s right in front of their eyes, in no small part because they have constructed an echo chamber.

This has always been the most dangerous thing about the way these people have structured Celtic. They have filled it with sycophants and yes men. They have filled it with their cronies and relations. And what that does, apart from lowering standards, is that it means nobody ever questions you even when you are making obvious mistakes.

Everyone is encased in the same bubble. Nobody can see anything outside of it. So, when you get something badly wrong there is nobody to apply the brakes, nobody to urge a course correction. It takes forever for there even to be an acknowledgement that an error has happened because nobody wants to break ranks and be the first to say it.

There is a phenomenon in business called “institutional blindness”, and it is regarded as one of the most dangerous things that can grab hold of a company and it can start as quickly as within three weeks of someone moving into a new role.

Immediately upon getting there they are told that “this is how we do things” and they fall into the same habits as everyone else working there … their new ideas are stifled, their new thinking is ignored.

Institutional blindness happens when a company becomes rigid in its outlook and procedures, and convinces itself that there is only one “right” way to do things. It takes no notice of trends or changes, makes no allowances for context or free thinking.

Two of the key tests of a good leadership structure are 1) does it insist on hiring and promoting the very best people and 2) is it willing or brave enough to embrace change? We know we fail on both counts.

Celtic fans have to realise that an organisation run in this fashion isn’t going to reform itself, and that it’s only going to make more and more mistakes. In order for it to change that change is going to have to be enforced from the bottom, because those at the top are frozen into this way of thinking and they are not going to break out of it.

There is a real feeling amongst the fans that there is nothing we can do to move the needle here.

It’s entirely wrong-headed and defeatist and we shouldn’t let ourselves get sucked into thinking like that. The last time there was any sort of fan opposition to the direction of this club they sacked the manager and the CEO stepped down … that suggests that it might not take as much to shift the dial as some people seem to think.

Others seem to think that this will come down to starving the club of money. I don’t believe that’s going to be necessary either. Our directors are not taking fortunes out of Celtic, so starving the club of money doesn’t impact on them at all. It doesn’t hurt them or make them uncomfortable and in the end would only lead to a scenario where they were forced to make cuts to the playing squad and the manager’s budget to make up any shortfall.

No, there’s a much simpler and more obvious way of doing this job and these people have already shown that they can be broken by it.

Much of what moves these people is egotism.

They enjoy basking in their roles as the great elder statesmen of Celtic. They attend games regularly. They sit in the stands where they feel like they are all the lords of all creation.

The way to get them out is not by harming the club. It is by making them decidedly uncomfortable in those seats. It is by making them feel unwelcome in them, unwanted in our ground, to make them feel the loathing they engender every time they take their places.

And yes, I believe that if we make it clear that we want them gone that they will go. Desmond may seem unassailable, but even he’s not beyond reach. He owns a mere one third of the club. The way to pressure him is to pressure others so that they might exercise their own influence in demanding a change to the way things work.

Two of our key shareholders, James Mark Keane and Chris Trainer, each own enough of our shares to exert influence. Tom Allison is probably the same. Ordinary Celtic fans actually own a sizeable chunk of shares – in excess of 17% – and would have real authority if those shares could be consolidated. That’s something a lot of people are thinking about.

Desmond is interested in Celtic because he can run it by remote control. The way to get rid of Desmond is to prevent him exerting that control.

If he’s no longer in a position to run this club as if he were its owner then I think he might see the whole enterprise as something that was simply not worth his while. Then we’ll see if he wants to hang onto them.

Remember too that we’re not even looking for a full-scale boardroom coup here. That’s unfeasible unless someone is ready to step up and buy these people out.

What we’re looking for is a new plan, some fresh thinking and an end to a culture of cronyism and nepotism.

Remove the Lawwell’s. Let’s have a proper football department that isn’t built around the old boy’s network which restricts the current one. Allow the manager control of how he spends his budget.

Ange Postecoglou had control for one full year, and the system worked flawlessly. It produced not only two league titles and three domestic trophies but a team of high value footballers. In a single year, the hiring of one Lawwell and the return of the other has put us where we are now and so it is entirely clear where the blame for this lies.

These people feel threatened by change. But they don’t feel under pressure to actually embrace it. That’s where we have a responsibility to act. They are not going to do it voluntarily so it is up to us to force it. And I believe that we can, because this club isn’t owned by distant billionaires who live in a gated enclave surrounded by high walls.

Two thirds of Celtic’s shares are right here at home, in the hands of private individuals and institutions. Celtic’s future does not depend on some faceless accountants working on behalf of some far-removed single entity owner.

Most of these people are in the stands every week, and that’s how to move the needle.

We need a Celts For Change 2; the clue is in the name. Change.

Not a revolution, but merely to force these people to embrace the future rather than clinging on grimly, and fatally, to “this is how we do things.”

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  • bertie basset says:

    younger fans may not remember and older ones may not be aware that dermot desmond invested in celtic at a time it was rumoured that sky were considering bringing celtic and rangers into the english leagues , plans were afoot to start them in the lower leagues , however those teams aspiring to move up would have to contend with celtic and rangers and a campaign began to prevent it happening , however dermot desmond who hails from the town of Macroom in county cork has the nick named ” the town that never reared a fool ” saw an opportunity to make a killing , like the city of london airport where his foresight in purchasing it rendered a huge profit , desmond is no fool , his lip service that celtic is more than business to him is a pure sham , he installed an accountant trained from the beginning to chase a rolling penny , as all accountants are , it’s a return on the financial results of the club that matters to them and the results on the field of play are secondary , desmond will move on if a substantial profit can be made and in the meantime he and the penny chaser will keep milking the cow that keeps giving , the fans need these two in particular to be run out of town .
    i am sure as an Irishman myself , i speak for many of my countrymen who have a deep love for celtic football club and all it stands for , it’s proud history and beginnings , and when i say desmond is an embarrassment to me and his sham pretence of his affections for the club , after all he knew what to expect from lawell and if he says otherwise , he surely was aleep at the wheel ,

    • Ray says:

      Jesus Christ, again with the Trump pish. Can you go a week without your Trump delusion syndrome kicking in?

      • James Forrest says:

        It’s called “Trump Derangement Syndrome” you trailer park shitkicker.

        Have you EVER had an original thought in your life? Which alt-right podcast did you get that from?


        • Ray says:

          For your own sanity and everyone else’s, stick to writing about Celtic and stop believing you’re some kind of political guru.

          Focusing on the wrong word I used, slurs and assumptions don’t do you any favours either.

          If I’m thinking this, you can bet your bottom dollar I won’t be in a small minority who think so also. I’ll leave it at that and avoid your blog from now on.

  • Jim Duffy says:

    What practible steps do you suggest the fans should take,banners,tifos ,flags ,or maybe mass demonstrations or boycott of some games,the meaningless ones which might be upon us soon if we don’t buck up and try to get a league title challenge back on the rails.

  • Kevan McKeown says:

    Personally don’t see these people bein shifted by just makin them ‘uncomfortable’. Lawwell has already stated at the last AGM, that he was ‘passin the baton’ down tae his next generation. Ah think they’re arrogant enough tae sit in that stand and take, ride out, anythin that’s thrown at them. And for how long dae we make them feel uncomfortable ? 1 season, 2, 3 seasons, before we have tae take a more drastic approach. As ah’ve previously mentioned, ah totally believe these people think they are above the club. Tryin tae move them by just givin them abuse, good luck wi that.


      Need hung out to dry

    • Keith says:

      Remember when Board/lawwells got about ten seconds of abuse against Kilmarnock on 16th December as the poor performances were being blamed on the lack of atmosphere in celtic park due to green brigade ban
      By the 26th December green brigade were back
      Do you really think these people have enough backbone to face our wrath
      They will run like the rats they are


    Excellent James. Been reading Auldheid’s thinking on this issue and it’s clear the ‘Status Quo’ is untenable.
    Moves are afoot at the ground level and the CST (argh what’s in a name) being prodded into meaningful action.
    The fan’s disdain v the Board’s intransigence and egotism should make for a volatile showdown if they show up.

  • TC says:

    A Celts for Change 2 endorsed by Fergus McCann would stimulate the fan base.

  • Allan says:

    We all want the same thing – most of what you described James. But to achieve it, we must be subscribing to the same plan. No good some of us giving up season tickets if the waiting list swallows them up. Same goes for the merchandise.
    So a leader must come forward with a rational solution – regardless of whether we turn this season around or not.
    Progress in Europe has been nil. We can/should do a lot better with the tools available to us to build the right team. This seems further away than ever. But it is always darkest before the dawn. Remember ‘The Bunnet’ and Ange. Even the phoenix rose from its ashes. So let’s get behind every player who enters the playing field for us regardless of whether they are our favourites or not. Let the board know the ire is directed at them. The team need to know that the support is right behind them. Time for criticism can come when season is over.

  • bob says:

    Yes, don’t starve them of the only oxygen that they need in order to breath, instead keep handing the board your hard-earned-cash, and afterwards just shout at them and like a bully that’s been put in their place in the middle of the playground, they’ll run away and hide, never to be seen again, Celtic is saved…. is that really the master plan, seriously?

    That plan would be like trying to get a deluded narcissist to admit that they are narcissistic to begin with and that they need to seek professional help before their world implodes around them…. it’s never going to happen; as the deluded narcissist will ALWAYS be of the opinion, that they are ALWAYS right and you are ALWAYS wrong, even as their world burns Infront of them.

    The only way to save Celtic long term and implement the much needed changed, to push this club to the European heights that it deserves, to give Celtic fans their self-respect back on the Europe front, is to force this board out, and it will take drastic action in order to see that happen. The Celtic fans will have to be prepared to roll up their slaves, dig their heels in, and get ready to throw counter punches and counter punches as this board fights dirty. Remember (as the board has already proved during the Pandemic), you mean nothing to them, and to prove it, they erected barricades, and used their connections within the British Media to try and attack and shame Celtic fans into silence with the flinging of untrue slurs of ‘Dirt’, ‘Scum’, ‘Mob’ and ‘Entitled’.

    When the Celtic support refuse to hand over their hard-earned cash, when the Celtic fanbase refuse’s to be conned and bought off with an Ange mark 2.0 and a few decent signings next year, that’s when you’ll see the parasites really panic, once that happens, keep applying the pressure.

  • Dan says:

    You mention the Lennon appointment and loss of the title. Exact same has happened again but now it’s the Rodgers appointment and loss of a title.
    Yes the board have had a mare again, an utter disgrace, however, any decent manager with that squad would not have dropped as many points as Rodgers has.
    The board has been so negligent, Rodgers is getting it easier than he should. Yes there is some criticism but how he has this team playing is comedy hour. I find it hard to recall a Celtic side that was so bad to watch and played so negative.
    I really think the guy is done.
    I cannot see any point in giving him a large transfer kitty in the summer when every Celtic player has deteriorated under him. Any player investment has to go to another boss, one with a little fire and ambition.

    • Keith says:

      That back 4 and most of the wingers wouldn’t look out of place in the league of ireland…hardly the managers fault,and I’m not a big fan of his but this isn’t on him

  • Treble-T says:

    I for one would give my proxy to celts for change 2. We just need it to be organised.

  • Clachnacuddin and the Hoops says:

    I haven’t made a decision as yet…

    But I’m definitely gonna look at ma merchandise spend going forward depending on what unfolds or doesn’t unfold whatever the case may be !


    Need hung out to dry

  • Tony M says:

    Hi James,

    I read all your articles on a daily basis. I’ve never felt compelled to comment but I feel I have to on this occasion.

    I would think most Celtic fans feel exactly as you do on this subject, as do I. I say subject but really we’re talking about the very soul and the massive untapped potential of our club. But there are no Celtic fans who have the reach of guys like you or the guys who run The Celtic Star or Etims or Video Celts etc.

    The Celtic Trust seemed to be a glimmer of hope that something could actually be mobilised but for one reason or another recently it seems to have lost that crucual element required, ironically, Trust.

    In bloggers like yourself and others, that trust and care for the clubs interests is documented and can be referred to in articles that go back years and is undeniable.

    From your articles it’s clear you have been on the front line of some socialist causes in the past. You are asking season ticket holders, fans and shareholders to fall under one banner, but someone has to raise that banner first. People want action and will stand behind a movement but every movement needs direction and directors.

    You love a good movie reference. My feel good movie is Good Will Hunting. Aye its pretty contrived and schmaltzy, but the performances and the humour are such that I cant help watch it whenever I see its on.

    Towards the end, Ben Afflecks character tells Will about how the best part of his day is when he goes to pick him up in the morning to take them both to a dead end job busting block on a building site, because for the few seconds between his car and Wills’ front door, he allows himself to imagine that Will has finally woken up to the fact that he is better than that life, and that he is off to start the kind of life that his genius deserves.

    I’m sure it’s a scene you probably know well.

    That scene pops into my head whenever I click on yours or others articles concerning forcing change at our football club. I hope that within your article you have realised the power you guys submitting these daily messages have with the fans who read them. I hope that you are blueprinting a course of action which these fans would follow and give them a sense of direction and control of the club they love. I hope that you have realised that shareholders dont listen to other shareholders, fans dont want to put their head above the parapet and that it will take a group of people who maybe dont realise the influence they have to come together and light the flame.

    Hey, there’s another great line from another great movie popped into my head now.

    ” I hope. I hope.”

  • SSMPM says:

    Fair enough Kevan just firing abuse at them is going to have little or no impact on a ‘hear no evil monkey’.
    It is going to take as the article alludes internal and collective shareholder action even then I wonder if that is a powerful enough voice or voting strength to prompt the positive change required.
    You know what it’s better to try and fail than not have tried at all. I wonder if they have it in them collectively to do so.
    All is not lost C’mon a Hoops

  • Keith says:

    This article is the answer and it was staring us in the face the whole time One chorus of lawwell get the fuck a few weeks ago and the green brigade were back within 4 days.

    Incredible writing also

  • king murdy says:

    good article james…explained a lot to me…
    even gives me a wee bit of hope…

  • Jimmy says:

    Great report James and spot on.
    We definitely need this reporting out there. The Status quo simply cannt continue.
    One of the things that really concerns me is some fans accepting of mediocrity and accept it as the norm.
    Our team is poor at best in many areas. Just seen 20 minute Tim’s telling it as it is. Our central defence is poor and nowhere near the quality that should be accepted at our club.
    Just read a report on Hail Hail that states that Scales has been a stand out performer for our team this season.
    What is going on. Are we so duped by the malaise at the club that mediocrity is now OK. This guy got beaten against Darvel whilst with Aberdeen last year. Waken up for crying out loud. The levels of mediocrity at our club is frightening, yet some of our fans are accepting of it. Players playing consistently at our club fall way short of the standard required. 8 million spent on two centre back yet they can’t get a game before Welsh and Scales. We are in freefall. The board have to be held to account.

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