The Celtic AGM and the Irishman hiding behind the curtain

You can see why Peter Lawwell hung around now can’t you? My word they even appear to yearn for the guy. They still want to protect him, even throwing rose petals in front of his mere shadow now by proclaiming without him we wouldn’t even have Ange. It’s like an inherent fear he may return, or do they wish for it, and they’ll need to explain if their loyalty had changed direction. This was evident even to the point the last CEO, the 72-day one has been airbrushed entirely.

And when you see the performance of those put front and centre at this week’s AGM you can also see the organisation that is Celtic is far from in safe hands and you can see why a CEO who offered to surprise and delight ended up moving on.

I had hopes of restructure, modernisation and an embracing of a football world accelerating into the distance. I’d hope that last year’s collapse of our domestic stranglehold would have been seen for what it was, a culmination of a series of lazy and insular decisions that lost us all reputation in European football, bar our support.

Instead, the smoke and mirrors of a budget dwarfing every rival we went up against for years coming home to roost, when Frankenstein’s monster found a way to barely function, has been deflected as a false dawn.

Photo Jeff Holmes

It appears there’s nothing to worry about, and that the custodians of our club have it all in hand. It was mainly the pandemic after all that caused all this. The Board are still great, and nine years of previous domestic dominance means a bit of fine tuning and learning from mistakes that the support will not be made privy to will soon see a return to form.

It was evidence enough the extent of their ambition lies in staying one step ahead of a warmed-up corpse, and that’s depressing enough when you consider how they have downsized the ambitions of this club. But when they put on a show of ineptitude like that AGM, you can’t even imagine they’ll manage to negotiate themselves back onto the bottom rung of the ladder without falling over each other.

How many Board members does it take to screw in a lightbulb? None, they only screw the support.

But in truth they are only following orders, they are conditioned to do that from 17 years of Lawwell micromanagement, they cannot think for themselves. There may have been a time they may have been able to, but it was deflated from them like the old size five slowly releasing air by the day lying in the corner of the garden.

Yet Lawwell himself was in turn simply another who feared the shapeshifter behind the curtain, the man directing the downsizing of all our ambitions. The magician keeping the lights on, making us all believe a one penny ahead and one point ahead in a domestic environment is all we need, as we wait for jam tomorrow. Yet that man comes under little real scrutiny, he doesn’t even lose the vote from the floor.

“For they saw, standing in just the spot the screen had hidden, a little old man, with a bald head and a wrinkled face, who seemed to be as much surprised as they were…”

” I thought Oz was a great green Head,” said Dorothy. “And I thought Oz was a lovely Fairy,” said the Scarecrow. “And I thought Oz was a monstrous Beast,” said the Tinman. “And I thought Oz was a big ball of fire,” exclaimed the Lion.

“No, you are all wrong,” said the little old man meekly. “I have been making believe.” “MAKING BELIEVE!” cried Dorothy. “Are you not a real Wizard? ”

For 15 years our version of Oscar Zoroaster Phadrig Isaac Norman Henkle Emmannuel Ambroise Diggs has hidden behind that curtain, like the man who proclaimed himself in the book as the Wizard of Oz, and chose Oz as his first illusion because the rest of his initials spelled Pinhead – and people may have noticed that.

And ours was just as great an illusionist, had just as many winged monkeys doing his bidding and is as conspicuous by his absence as the Wizard ever was. Except with this one, no-one pulled back the curtain, he just got bored.

Our Wizard of Oz can’t even be bothered creating the illusions now. Instead, it’s as if he’s abdicated power to the Scarecrow without the brain, the Tin-man without the heart and the Lion without the courage, and each board member takes his turn to adopt each persona. It even appears Dorothy is having her trust undermined by a Trojan horse sent to pore over and advise on the content and direction of her frustration. Dorothy may still be as feisty but Oz can handle a mere orator.

After an AGM where the questions asked flummoxed and flustered a chairman, yet those questions offered no real scrutiny in any case, and the one’s you’d hope be asked were as much conspicuous by their absence as the man behind that curtain, we all move on.

The supporting cast have done their bit, the veneer may have been rubbed a little as votes from the floor didn’t go exactly to plan, but there’s no real recourse for change in any case when the Wizard’s offspring sends the text to his father to blow the dissent away with the power of his shareholding.

This is where we are and it’s where we’ll probably be next year. A club primed for two things. Stripped to the bone, operating frugally and primed for a takeover, or ready to appear as a phoenix from the flames when a European League or invite to a neighbour’s riches ever comes to pass. In the meantime, a footballing vacuum.

Vagelis Georgariou

To change that it would need a revolution and we have major shareholders who know the rank and file have no-one who could afford the expense of a pair of those ruby slippers and to click those heels three times.

‘There’s no place like home’ seems a long way off when the wizard behind the curtain can run the show and barely even musters the interest to appear in a puff of green smoke. And still the fear of not having him, and of who may replace him, means we’re all too scared of the alternative to even challenge him in the way we would his placemen.

It’s quite the illusionist, when even when we know he’s not who he proclaims to be, we’d rather continue to embrace the myth.

Niall J

About Author

As a Bellshill Bhoy I was taken to my first Celtic game in the summer of 1987. It was Billy McNeill’s return to Celtic Park as manager and Celtic lost 5-1 to Arsenal . I thought I was a jinx, I think my Grandfather might have thought the same. It was finest gift anyone ever gave me when he walked me through Parhead's gates.

5 Comments

  1. Whatever anyone thinks about PL,his time as CEO at Celtic has seen unrivalled success,domestically,on the pitch.Interesting to note that DD’s son has attended the last 3 AGMs and is rumoured to very much be in favour of providing a transfer war chest for Celtic managers.If so,sounds very promising for the near future….

  2. You are as out of touch as them if you believe that Rob. “ Unrivaled success”, yes for himself.

  3. Excellent article Niall. Totally agree with you about Desmond. He must be one of most anonymous majority shareholders within football. When things go wrong it’s never his fault (Lennon) yet when things go right (Rodgers) he is first to take the plaudits. One man like him wielding all the power is the total opposite of how our great club should be run.

    • I may be wrong but did Mr Desmond not put £15 million pounds of his own money into the training facilities for the Celtic staff and players. I wouldn’t say that was somebody in hiding

  4. Year after year , the Celtic faithful bemoan the apparent lack of ambition of the Celtic Board . A Board who appear to be perfectly happy to dodge along as , ” Punchbags “, in Europe so long as we earn a few quid , in the process . A Board who also appear to refuse to criticise or condemn the support given to theRANGERS by referees , the SFA , the SPFL , Police Scotland and every other Anti-Catholic organisation you would care to mention . They dread the demise of theRANGERS because they realise that the tribal rivalry which exists within the support of both clubs also keeps both clubs in existence .
    Over the years , many Celtic supporters have proclaimed that Celtic , with its support and worldwide following , should be performing in the English Premiership or in a European Super League . That , however would be disastrous for Celtic because if you take away the cash which is generated from the rivalry between the Old Firm both organisations would implode . It is a sad fact that in Scotland ,” Hatred generates revenue ” .The Celtic Board , up until the Fergus McCann miracle comprised of two family dynasties :- The Kellys and the Whites who were never renouned for their business accumen , nor were they ever acclaimed for their generosity towards the great , unwavering Celtic support .
    Little has changed since the Fergus McCann era . The way onto the Celtic Board is to buy your way in , or know someone who is already a Board member who can recommend your unfailing loyalty to the Celtic cause . (YES MEN preferred ). If the vast majority of Celtic fans want to see change they must have a controlling interest in the affairs of Celtic and the only way to do that is buy -up enough ordinary shares to force their way onto the Celtic Board using the precepts of Company Law .
    Ordinary Celtic shares , at the moment, stand at 100 pence ( Yes £1 sterling) on the London Stock Exchange . Celtic have 60,000 Season Ticket holders , not to mention the hundreds of thousands of Celtic supporters Worldwide . If every Season Ticket holder bought 100 ordinary shares and formed a Celtic Supporter’s Trust Fund . They would have a holding of :- 6 million shares and could not be refused membership on the Board . This may sound like sedition , but I am a ,” lifelong Celtic supporter “, who has no wish to harm Celtic in any way . Similar to other supporters , I am sickened by the patronising drivel which comes out at the AGM from a shower of incompetent ” YESMEN”, who not only look alike but think alike and do Celtic more harm than good .