Celtic Needs Unity And Peter Lawwell Has Rendered That Absolutely Impossible.

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In the summer of 2007, as the Labour Party was starting to clamour for Tony Blair to name a departure date, a still un-named cabinet minister spoke to the journalist Andrew Rawnsley and lamented his decision to continue dragging the issue out.

“Prime Ministers never get their departures right, do they?” he groaned. He was thinking mainly of Thatcher, who had been turfed out of Downing Street with remarkable brutality.

One of my favourite stories from the Roman Republic is, as regular readers will know, the tale of Cincinnatus, who the Republic made dictator not once but twice and who following the resolution of the crises he was tasked with facing off returned power to the Senate as soon as he could, returning to his farm and a place in the pantheon of heroes. Few remember the emergencies which led to his taking control. He is famous for voluntarily relinquishing it.

Because that’s patriotism. That’s real love. He didn’t do it for applause or to bask in the glory of victory. He did it because the Republic needed him and he rose to the moment.

The greatest debate happening on the planet right now is happening in the United States. They are facing perhaps the most important election in the history of the country.

Trump has to be stopped. No rational person outside of the Republican Party doubts that. The stakes are enormous. The damage being done to the country every day it struggles with the enormous questions about what to do about the former President, already under indictment and facing multiple criminal trials, is already nearly incalculable.

And one man stands between the country and the abyss; an 82-year-old man who most members of his own party wish to God would step aside.

Why won’t Biden stand down? He knows better than anyone what the risks are, and from the outside it looks very much as if he’s putting his ego before his country.

That’s the critique he’s facing. If he stepped down and let someone like Gavin Newsom step up, he would leave the stage with more than just his legislative legacy intact. He would leave it as a modern-day Cincinnatus, a man who put his country first and saved the Republic at the same time.

If he wins none of that will matter. But if he hangs on, and loses … well, he will depart the stage branded a charlatan who let his own abominable selfishness put American democracy itself at risk, the man who lost to a rival under dozens of indictments.

But some people do not know when it’s time to go. Some of them hang on long after others can see the writing on the wall. Part of it is egotism. Part of it is delusion, the delusion to believe that you are better than anyone else and can still perform at your peak.

I don’t know, and I don’t care, which of those was the main driver for Peter Lawwell in returning to Celtic. Both are present in this.

Egotism may be the key one. I wrote about that recently. He could not resist a return to the limelight when it looked as if Celtic might be really onto something special and that we might be ruling this game for years to come. He wanted a piece of that spotlight for himself. He wanted to bask in that, even to the extent of grabbing handfuls of the credit from the manager.

But it is impossible not to see the appalling selfishness at the heart of it too.

He knew that his return would be massively divisive. He knew that ripping up the Ange Method of doing transfers carried huge risks. There was not a single saleable asset in that squad, except for Callum McGregor, before that rebuild … that’s how dreadful a state we were in before those two Ange windows where we found all of our current bankable players.

Lawwell knew fans wouldn’t like it. He knew he was taking us back to a transfer policy with more misses than hits. Think of the level of conceit it takes to think you can thumb your nose at your customer base in that fashion, and drag the club away from a winning strategy to regress back to the level you had previously presided over.

That’s not even a Biden level lack of humility, that is positively Trumpian.

And now that it has gone wrong, and oh so spectacularly wrong, anyone who was capable of putting Celtic first, in front of his ego, in front of his own need to play the role of The Great Leader, would realise what that would mean in real terms; it would mean walking off the stage.

This club is at odds with itself. This is the classic “house divided” now and that is Lawwell’s fault more than anyone else’s. His very presence, and that of his son, automatically creates tension between the club and the fans. Neither of them would have taken their posts had they been capable of putting Celtic before their own wants and needs.

They sow division simply by being in the building, that’s the truth of it.

I’ve written about perception versus reality, and we had all the world to choose from in finding a head of recruitment and we went for the guy a significant segment of the support was just waiting to miss the mark from the first, someone who was never going to succeed in winning them over, who would forever be judged by his name. Talk about setting someone up for failure.

But it set the club up for failure too.

Worse was Lawwell Snr returning when most people thought that his finest act of the last decade was realising that someone would have to fall on a sword for the ten in a row failure, and who seemed to realise that his was the only acceptable sacrifice.

Had he gone then he wouldn’t have left with the applause ringing in his ears, but unlike Blair and Thatcher he would have chosen his fate and been seen as a contrite man taking some responsibility.

And the histories would have been kind to him for that. Some of them, anyway.

Had Ange not left he might have had a different ending, but I very much doubt it. His son had already turned in two underwhelming windows, and the likelihood is that they would have attempted to push on Ange the very same collection of players Rodgers had foisted on him.

They have almost admitted as much in their confession that the transfer strategy was already planned coming out of last season. Holm was signed when there wasn’t even a coach in place; why would we believe he would not have been signed had the Aussie been in charge?

And this is what I mean. We can’t know this, but we can assume it and one of the reasons it’s so easy to believe is that this is Lawwell. This is what Lawwell does. No other individual who could have risen to be chairman would have inspired such automatic suspicion.

Even when the club makes a positive announcement, as they sort of did last night when they pushed the Barrowfield story out there, the reaction of the fans is to pour scorn on it. I did myself. I will write about why later. But I was one of many.

Nothing the club does right now is trusted. Nothing it is doing will be judged on its own merits. Always people will look to sniff out agendas and probe for flaws. That announcement was very swiftly labelled “a squirrel”, the sort of distraction event Ibrox excels in.

Celtic needs unity if we’re going to get through this season and take the prize. Whilst the fans will back the manager and the players as best we can, or at least to the limits of our tolerance, we will not allow the board to get away with their gross mismanagement.

The time when proper unity will be needed is in the summer, if we fail, and we require either trust in the current coaching staff or faith that the board will appoint good alternatives … and that will be crucial if the next boss is not to start with a tyre round his neck. Lawwell’s involvement will inevitably inspire fears that he will be nothing but a yes man, no matter his background or name. This impression will be even greater if Lawwell Jnr is still running the transfer policy.

It is hard to overstate the damage this could do to us before a ball is even kicked. Every signing would be getting questioned. The media would have a field day, and we’d pushing against the tide.

All because Lawwell draws this automatic distrust, and as I’ve said in the perception versus reality pieces it does not matter a damn whether it is justified or not. That Lawwell is responsible for every ill that befalls this club has become reality for enough people that it doesn’t matter whether he succeeds or fails, he is a divisive presence who makes any sort of unity impossible.

In order for this club to properly function, he has to go, and he has to take his son with him. That should not be in doubt, because it doesn’t matter whether you agree with the strategy or not … these divisions are here as long as they are.

There is no prospect of a coming together, far less a healing, until they are gone.

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  • Bunter says:

    Spot on. Lawwell x 2 need to be removed before peace will descend on paradise. But I’m not holding my breath. Their egos are massive. On Biden – yes, decent man, but he should have made it clear he was going to be a one term president. That would have given the democrats time to bed someone in before 2024. Unfortunately it looks like Biden will become a one term president anyway, as The Donald looks likely to win. Oversized egos in the White House and in the Celtic boardroom. Total mess. I’m so happy I’ve been out in Lanzarote in the last 6 weeks. But I’m back in March and I for one will be doing what I can as a supporter and shareholder to oust these clowns.

  • Gerry says:

    Very, very true again James. Both have to go and kickstart the professional and positive changes that are essential, for our club to move forward properly and regain the trust of our fans.
    Great swathes of money in the bank are absolutely useless if all that happens is 2nd in the league, and a map required, to find our way in Europe again. PL, his son, and ultimately DD, surely must know, the game is up and it’s time. How many times will that be said or speculated between now and the summer?
    Or, like our desire to retain this title, is it more hope than expectation? Answers on a postcard!!!

  • Roonsa says:


  • Nathaniel says:

    The return we need is the MIGHTY QUINN

  • brian cavanagh says:

    Hard to disagree with anything in the piece James – but where is Dermot Desmond in all of this? Hard to believe he is comfortable with the current position? As a large shareholder he stands to lose out if we dont win the league and access the Euro gravy train?

    When push comes to shove is he willing to sacrifice Lawell for his shareholder gain? And even if he doesn’t need the money can’t imagine a man like him likeming in second?

    The reality is that it is a palace coup and not a revolution that will rescue Celtic -the thieves falling out and dumping Lawell would be a good start. Not holding my breath

  • Frank Kennedy says:

    Lawwell should’ve been ousted 10 years ago despite our success coz it’s been made out that’s our success was down to him the man is a charlatan and has no ambition other than lining his and his cronies pockets we need to act now and get rid of him

  • Kevan McKeown says:

    Well written article. It’s typical narcisstic behaviour. These people will NEVER be convinced they’re wrong, the ego’s are far too massive. Even if somehow we managed tae save this league, which ah’ve lost all optimism, or confidence that we will, they have tae be removed from Celtic Park. Right now, the club is their’s and desmonds big fat cash cow, tae play with whatever way they like and only the support can change that. It’s incredible how some of our support still stick up for them. It’s like ye cannae state the fkn obvious enough.

  • John Fitzpatrick says:

    Lawwell will succeed by failing to keep the ugly twin relevant. Job done. He will be remembered with as much fondness as Jim Farry

  • Clachnacuddin and the Hoops says:

    What surprises me is why he came back and didn’t just ride off into the sunset to enjoy the vast wealth that he took out from Celtic FC…

    There again ‘The Celtic Chairman’ sounds a power hoarding position –

    And there was the chance to bring in Sonny Lawwell on board…

    And what a bloody DISASTER that has turned outta be –

    Useless far flung foreign lightweight duds that are brushed off the ball with ease and owned by the likes of Ross County and Motherwell and Kilmarnock especially…

    Ah but they need time to ‘settle in’ and get ‘used to Scotland’ – Ah Jesus – Don’t make me bloody well sick !

  • Pan says:

    Top class James. You are spot on with your reflections.

  • Pan says:

    The Lawwells, the Strachans and the Desmonds should all go. Remember the “bunnett” saying we should not allow this club to be run by family dynasties ever again. There is too much egotism and self interest on the Board. It is disgusting!

  • Treble-T says:

    Whilst The Lawwells are rightly under the microscope, I can’t believe how that charlatan majority shareholder DD gets away with it. He’s more Interested in playing in pro-am golf tournaments than watching Celtic games. Do you think he feels the way we do when watching the dross being served up at the moment?
    Not a chance. Let’s get rid of the Strachans, the Lawwells and the Desmond’s. ?

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