Iain Bankier – an overview of his reign as Celtic Chairman – Joe BloggsCity

Iain Bankier – an overview of his reign as Celtic Chairman – Joe BloggsCity

It’s hard to think of another Celtic chairman since the McCann takeover who has done as little whilst at the helm and has had so poor a relationship with the general support as is the case with the current Celtic Chairman Iain Bankier. Only Kevin Kelly comes into the same bracket but he was a remnant of the old board from before Fergus McCann.

Being the Chairman at a football club can be a thankless task however it can also end up being an almost ceremonial role with the incumbent little better than a golf committee member sitting smugly in a school boy blazer. Iain Bankier sadly falls into that cliché and even the most sympathetic would struggle to come up with anything of major note he achieved in his time at Celtic. He possibly thought this would be an easy job and all he had to do was not rock the boat.

Peter Lawwell and Ian Bankier (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

When the Chief Executive is the one nowadays most often at the controls, a chairman should at least be a counter weight. Bankier, it appears to me, was ineffective and dormant. When Celtic were pushing towards further cementing their domestic hegemony achieving the incredible Quadruple Treble, he was mostly seen or heard only at flag days and the pre-scripted AGMs.

When the challenge for ten in a row under the ineffective Neil Lennon floundered, he had a chance to finally show his strength by engineering change, but stuck his head in the sand and allowed Lennon to carry on in the role when there were umpteen valid opportunities previously to remove him. That season was a disaster as the first team squandered the opportunity to achieve ten league titles in a row to make history. It doesn’t undermine all the previous achievements but it cannot be ignored either.

What it did show was a lack of leadership by Bankier who remained quiet despite the rising tensions between the supporters and the board. If anything the on field success had masked the multitude of problems at board level.

The one disturbing episode that will forever mark him down though was the stramash over the proposed appointment of Bernard Higgins as head of security management at Celtic. Seldom ever before has there ever been as much of a united effort across the Celtic support against any proposal, with thankfully the appointment not finalised. It was a complete humiliation for the entire Celtic administration.

A shambles of a situation that alienated the core of the support, and clearly showed his lack of nous. A poor statement in answer to questions at an AGM to the issue overshadowed everything else on the day. He even got roundly booed, and those who didn’t simply groaned at him. At a club like Celtic, the chairman must be able to at least try to work with the support but he clearly was too distant. He was out of his depth and had too long overstayed his welcome. A cynic would say he was a convenient shield for others at Celtic (and it clearly worked as planned).

Celtic’s chief executive Dominic McKay Photo: Andrew Milligan

Additionally there was the shambles over the appointment of the successor chief executive which saw Dominic McKay hired and then cut loose before he had even had the chance to call in the office decorators. Non Disclosure agreements mean we’ll never know what really happened there but McKay’s silence would have come at a hefty cost to the club.

There were reports also of a lack of knowledge of the history of the club which is a problem when you purport to be a fan in a coveted role, and have to speak at supporters events as the figurehead. If anything it appeared to many that his appointment was cronyism at its worst. At the other end it also proved that at Celtic there was a serious issue with accountability and due process for change. Sadly something that was increasingly the case everywhere in the UK business and political world.

There has always been criticisms of previous chairmen (as is the norm at any club), but you could at least pinpoint one or two achievements off field for which they deserve. Not necessarily Bankier, although there was some off field developments of note like The Celtic Way etc. Howvever all development seemed to be on hold such as facility improvements, and everything else was just long term plans to be like the hotel and museum which all seemed to go all dormant, since the landscape was changed by the Covid crisis.

He had a few front and back page moments for the tabloids, criticising the referee and SFA, but really his attacks were anodyne for his targets. All real offensives were taken up by his more effective Chief Executive colleague.

Celtic chief executive Michael Nicholson (centre) Photo: Jeff Holmes

It would be churlish to disregard the on field achievements but few could argue it was anything he could take much credit for. More that he was fortunate to be at the helm when the new golden era began and Rangers died, as well as that the experienced and generally savvy Peter Lawwell was the club chief exec. It is mostly true that his longevity can be attributed to the good fortune gifted to him in the era he precided.

His departure in January 2023 will be little mourned and in truth, future Celtic retrospectives will likely little reference him which will be the harshest point for him and any sympathisers to take.

Joe BloggsCity

 

About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor, who has edited numerous Celtic books over the past decade or so including several from Lisbon Lions, Willie Wallace, Tommy Gemmell and Jim Craig. Earliest Celtic memories include a win over East Fife at Celtic Park and the 4-1 League Cup loss to Partick Thistle as a 6 year old. Best game? Easy 4-2, 1979 when Ten Men Won the League. Email editor@thecelticstar.co.uk

2 Comments

  1. So non-descript I forgot he even existed until his coupon flashed up on the screen during the Shakhtar game. “Referees are a real concern”….that he did absolutely NOTHING about. I pray to God his replacement (and it better not be Lawwell) actually straps on a pair and tries to do something about the corrupt nonsense we currently silently ignore…

  2. 5 way agreement Resolution 12 illegal signings over at liebrox for starters.
    Failure to prepare for each season ala Europe always after the draw cheap alternatives.
    Arrogance personified as if we should be lucky to have them.
    Did I forget never backing the supporters up or the players getting assaulted and cheated in every game and the police media sfa spfl all against us and not a peep out of our board.

    Yet they steal bonuses every year despite making impossible for the manager with 2 hands behind there back and the board saying get on with it and do as your told .

    Brother Walfrid Mr Stein The lions and all the other players and staff that completely understood the ethics origins and identity tohelp the poor impoverished and disadvantage and help the working man and charities that identity with our club.

    Instead at the helm cheats liars untrustworthy spineless Cowards rats all of them to a man and woman and greed coming out of every pore.
    Sack the board that have been lining ther pockets while doing nothing.
    Get in a completely new board with new ideas ambitions that the lions and the supporters make us feel proud 10 feet tall and working in unison as 1Amen .

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