Lennon in Limbo – Celtic’s Long awaited Review fails to address the key question

Shortly after releasing the Celtic PLC Interim Report, showing the trading results from the first half of the season (which incidentally is always much better than the second half of the year), the Chairman Ian Bankier also released his Message to Supporters via the club’s official website.

This in effect is the long overdue January Review and while it tells us a whole load of stuff that we already know, it does not address the core issue that is going to impact significantly on how the club’s financials are going to look in the future – the position of Neil Lennon as the Celtic manager.

PERTH, SCOTLAND – (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Peter Lawwell is retiring in the summer. Dominic McKay replaces him and will not attempt to be a de facto Director of Football. He is likely to modernise the football operations at Celtic and is presumably going to appoint a Director of Football.

However is he going to appoint a new manager or is Neil Lennon going to be allowed to continue as the mitigating factors outlined by the Celtic PLC Chairman in is Message to Supporters this morning are regarded as significant enough to allow Lennon the opportunity to continue beyond the end of this campaign? Who knows?

What is also unknown is the impact on season ticket renewals – particularly as Celtic are unlikely to be in position to guarantee that we’ll be allowed back into games for the start of the 2021-22 season – if Neil Lennon remains in charge.

To put it bluntly for Mr Bankier. Ask yourself how many season tickets are you likely to sell with Neil Lennon in charge then do the same for a list of potential replacements. Remember that gloriously sunny May afternoon when you and Peter Lawwell introduced Brendan Rodgers as the new Celtic manager? The first thing he did was point up to the upper tier of the Lisbon Lions Stand and say that it was his job to fill these seats again – and he did.

You want to make sure that you have a manager who can do that.

Here’s an exclusive video of what could be the Celtic PLC Board discussing their January Review…

Here’s what Ian Bankier actually stated this morning….

Dear Supporter,

We have today released our half year trading statement to The Stock Exchange. I want on this occasion to make a separate statement to address various issues raised by supporter shareholders, season ticket holders and the wider body of Celtic fans.

In recent weeks, the Club has been the subject of widespread comment mostly concerning, but not limited to, the team’s performance. I have received correspondence from fans expressing their anxiety and seeking information. These messages and feelings are not being ignored and I accept with due humility what has been said. The frustration that is expressed is clear and unambiguous. It is shared throughout the whole Club. That includes, the Directors, our Football Management Team, staff and the players.

Across all media platforms, we have been asked to communicate our reaction to events on and off the park and to reveal our decisions and intentions. It is worth saying that over the period in question, the football manager has addressed each and every game we have played. The Club has made announcements dealing with speculation over the Manager’s tenure, the Covid outbreak amongst our players in January, the appointment of a new CEO and player sales and signings at the end of the January transfer window.

It is acknowledged that the season, to date, has been a disappointment. We approached it with justifiable confidence. Having been crowned League Champions for the ninth year in a row, we looked forward to making it a Quadruple Treble in the delayed Scottish Cup. We retained a number of highly sought-after players, so as to have the strongest possible squad going into this season. We supplemented our player pool by investing in new player registrations. We had in place a Manager with a proven record and the core of a squad who had created history for the Club.

But the harsh reality has been that, thus far, we have not achieved the results we have sought. We have not met the consistently high standards that we have become accustomed to. We do not shy away from these cold facts.

Across the plethora of media channels, comments and criticisms are instant. Evaluating our options in order to make the right decisions at this time in the Club’s history cannot be instant. As things stand today, we are operating under Government-imposed restrictions with no clear horizon.

We are in the period of review we indicated in our announcement of 7th December. I must state clearly that all decisions we take will be taken calmly and rationally. We will not make hasty decisions that we might regret. There is considerable uncertainty as to how and when the game will get back to normal. Equally, there are opportunities ahead of us, as the structure of European competitions evolves over the next three to five years. Amongst other things, we will be considering how to take full advantage of what comes our way.

Meanwhile, we cannot alter the timeline of the pandemic. Therefore, we face the prospect of further challenges, whilst we play to an empty stadium where our fans belong. The virtual season ticket scheme has not been and cannot be a substitute for the real thing. We do recognise that. We thank all our season ticket holders for the fantastic loyalty they have shown the Club and, of course, we are working on ways in which we can acknowledge that. Your commitment to a season ticket supports our playing squad and allows us to invest in players, giving Celtic the best chance to deliver the playing success that we all want. The Celtic support at our matches is something we have missed, of that there is simply no question.

The Covid pandemic has cast its shadow over all aspects of normal life and it continues to present many challenges for our supporters and the communities we all live in. On behalf of the Board, I send our continued thanks, appreciation and warmest wishes to all our supporters. The job of your Board is to look to the future and we should do so with a sense of togetherness in the coming months.

IAN P BANKIER
CHAIRMAN

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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

1 Comment

  1. No hasty decisions – how long does it take? The last one was made in the shower. Either Lennon or I won’t be at Celtic Park next season. We’ve again ruined any opportunity for a new man to prepare us for Europe. Time to call it a day with the Club.