It would be easy to romanticise the recent Celtic Underground podcast with Brian Dempsey. In it Brian spoke of Celtic as "The People's Club" and dreamed of a vision that saw a one person one vote system at Celtic where fans would make the decisions and Celtic would be the centre point of a community that it always claimed to represent. At the point where the misty-eyed amongst us started to let our minds wander, Brian said "Of course it could never happen now"
I've said many times on this blog that I despise the way Celtic are run just now. Since Ian McLeod left Celtic, a massive error on the club's behalf when you consider the incredible success he has been in every job since, Celtic have been on a downward spiral. McLeod was ousted at the end of a contract in may 2003. They didn't even give him a ticket for Seville. Ask any employee at Celtic for a decent length of time and virtually all will say McLeod was by far the best boss they ever worked for, His mantra was simple to all his managers "If you're department is working fine, you can complain about anything to me, if it's not, don't let me see you until it is" It worked. The team was unstoppable, profits soared and the club was in the healthiest state it had ever been on the park since the 1970s. Of course debts were going up, to a high point of £35m and that could not be sustained but with the level of support through the turnstiles, not to mention great players already at the club, McLeod started to put into place a plan to reduce it.
The board rejected it and fired him.
Six months elapsed before Peter Lawwell took over. On a much lower salary given his level of experience compared to McLeod. At first Peter was pretty quiet, as has been stated by John Paul Taylor in an interview in this blog, Martin ran Celtic at the time and no one got in his way, not even Dermot Desmond. When Martin left the club and Gordon Strachan took over as Coach(not Manager), it was at this time that a different financial structure was put in place, one which we see remaining today. Put simply it meant that the board were not responsible for results on the park, only the finances off it. This is why you see big bonuses despite failure on the park and why idealists like me get so angry.
The questions I have now are these, we currently have a bank debt of £500,000, which could be wiped out today with the sale of one fringe player, so I ask the board(like they are reading), what's next? What new investment are you going to bring into the club? At what point will you break all links with The Huns as all fans demand? What is our future strategy, are we leaving the SPL? What is being done to ensure we compete in The Champions League again? Why do you invest so little in youth development yet triumph it as "The Future"?
Right now, more than ever, with a slowing economy, a myriad of other options for families and an awful SPL, we need some leadership at Celtic. We need an end to all the phoney initiatives that mean nothing to ordinary fans, we need the continual slide to the folk with money to end, we need to stop being served up overpriced crap at the food kiosks whilst the hospitality lounges win awards, we need to stop this fascination with the bottom line, a fascination that sold your away tickets and European travel down the river, we need to embrace the fans who are streets ahead of the current employees at Celtic in their technological skills and PR value but most of all....
We need Celtic to be Celtic again, not some faceless corporate entity that has mottos like "No idea", "Nothing to do with me" or my own favourite "Aye, aye, aye, aye, sorry I can't help you, bye". This club is great because of the fans and some of the players who have worn the Hoops with distinction. We have a worldwide fanbase just sitting there waiting to be inspired, embrace it, cherish it, because it's who we are.
That all said, my made up word of "Celtopia" still makes me think that it would be interpreted by Celtic as "Good day for shirt sales"
If that makes you smirk, perhaps we're not dead yet.