There Used To Be A Football Club Over There…
The above words are attributed to Keith Burkinshaw after his dismissal by Spurs. That dismissal came a few months after he had led the club to The UEFA Cup and shortly after the club converted to PLC status. The latter took precedence over the sentiment and goodwill of the former,and it would take another fifteen years and a takeover before they tasted silverware again.
It’s fair to say that Burkinshaw left somewhat disillusioned with events,and with the club. And with one man in particular-Irving Scholar,a money man with no previous experience in the game.
Some Celtic fans are also looking at their club now with a similar sense of disillusionment and the thought that there used to be a football club over there. Over a similar timeframe to the fifteen years of hurt endured by Spurs fans,we have gone from our own UEFA Cup Final heroics with a fearsome team and a Fortress Parkhead mentality to slinging mud at the wall to see where-or rather,if-it sticks. From Henrik Larson,Chris Sutton and John Hartson to,well,Cole and Ciftci. And similarly led along that path by a money man with no previous experience in the game.
We lost that game to Porto of course. To their gamesmanship and that of their manager. They went on to win The Champions League the following season,while we went on to lose Henrik and replace him with Henri Kamara. On loan. This wasn’t life in the slow lane,it was life in the sidings. It took a turn for the worse the season after that as the financial shackles were tightened by our Chief Financial Officer. We lost Martin O’Neil and his staff,Chris Sutton,Jackie McNamara,Johann Mjallby,Alan Thompson amongst others. John Hartson was out the following year and Bobo Balde was Persona Non Grata. Even though we had to pay him just to watch him sit in the stands. What a waste of a player.
We did though have a pragmatic manager in place. With a squad rebuild required,he signed quality where he could and compromised when he couldn’t. Rangers were on their own costcutting exercise at the time,so the effects of our own wasn’t so obvious or dramatic. And we won three titles on the trot with him,with a seven point gap at New Year in the fourth season.
It was here that the wheels really came off the wagon. Our CFO was by now long established as our CEO,and his word was law. He alone decided on the suitability of player purchases and he alone failed to see the change in direction of our despised rivals when Sir Walter of Cardigan returned. Certainly only he alone thought that a £50k winger from Dundee Utd would be enough in the January window to see us over the line.
The money man with,by now,five years of football experience gave us The Willo Window. The huns gave us the finger as they crushed us that season,and continued to spend outrageous sums in pursuit of the Champions League pot of gold needed to balance the books. They too won three titles in a row,along with CL money that they hoped would keep the wolves from the door.
Meanwhile,another avenue was being explored. The Old Firm card. Both Chief Executives,Lawwell and Bain,working closely together-as a single unit!-to entice the newly-minted English Premier League to allow us to compete on their patch. You’ll doubtless have seen the correspondence,and I’ve got it on a PDF. Utterly shameful behaviour,especially as our old and firm friends were committing GBH on our players while an approving eye was cast by referees and the wider Scottish game.
We,of course,just took it on the chin-and wrecked a highly promising managerial career in the process.
Neil Lennon arrived at a time when Rangers were in clear financial difficulty and on the verge of being sold for a pound. Whether they were worth that pound really depended on a good European run,and they would have two bites at the cherry to do so. Fail Fail-and they called in the administrators around six months after HMRC had called in the sheriff officers on an entirely different matter. They went nipples north in June 2012,and that should have been it. Party on,lads. Jelly and ice cream time.
Up till now,Celtic supporters had only concerned themselves with the massive drop in quality on the pitch. Oh,we knew about the cost cutting-we saw the results of it every week!-and voiced our disapproval,but we were told that books had to be balanced and sacrifices made. And it certainly seemed that the strategy had worked. Sure,we had lost three titles in a row to a financially doped and officially sanctioned rival,but they had gone bust in the process. They are the past,and we have the future to ourselves!
Well,not quite. The laws of the game and the law of the land were circumvented-to a loud silence from Celtic Plc-so that the huns could resurface as the same club with their entire trophy cabinet intact. No sporting advantage was deemed to have been achieved by playing teams filled with individuals on contracts which rode roughshod over registration and tax regulations. No requirement was deemed necessary for three years of audited accounts before admittance to The Scottish Football League. Etc,etc,etc. Rangers were back,as if they’d hardly been away. Most of Scottish football welcomed them with open arms.
We welcomed them with open legs.
Meanwhile,the good ship PL sailed on undaunted. His silence,ineptitude and impotence on all things regulatory was deafening as he made further inroads to every facet of the club. He assumed new roles as Head of PR,Interior Design,Director of Football,you name it and he was in charge. He brought in around £50m in fees from down south for some of the diamonds that emerged,but wasted that and more with an accumulation of dross that should never have been near a club of our stature. He forced Neil Lennon out after his assistant,Johann Mjallby,was replaced by a virtual unknown in Ronny Deila-only to hand the woefully underprepared Ronny the top job.
Armed with information supplied to him in the form of a silver bullet designed to bring down and restructure the SFA,he calmly ignored Resolution 12-2013 and even told shareholders at the AGM in 2018 that the four resolutioners were happy with how it was being handled. Fortunately,one of them was there at the time and stood up to be counted,nailing that lie for what it was.
Is that the only time he has lied to shareholders at an AGM? Well,some of us have proof to the contrary-and it is a striking-off offence.
But back to matters on the pitch. And last Sunday. You can see from the above that last Sunday has been a long time in gestation,and last weekend we finally gave birth to the monster we have reared within us. And what an ugly shouty wee bastert it is. Lawwell as Director of Football refused to support the best manager we have had since,probably,Jock Stein. Four transfer windows in a row where he sat on his hands. For instance,he could have bought a £5m centre half,approved by Brendan Rodgers,who would be better than Dedrick Boyata who could then be sold for the £10m offered. But there was a point to be made,and it was one which cost Celtic that manager when he walked just under a year ago. Boyata left for free along with about seventeen others-testament to the scattergun approach to recruitment by our DoF-which should at least have piled up about £15m in wage savings to be invested. Along with the £9m from Leicester for BR and £25m from Arsenal for Kieran Tierney,that’s about £50m to invest,eh?
Wrong as usual,guys. You really must pay attention. Due to his failure to invest wisely and promptly in various transfer windows,we haven’t been in the Champions League group stages for a couple of years. And that missing money has to come from somewhere. I mean,talk about penny wise and pound foolish? We have failed on the pitch due to lack of investment in the playing staff,so to make up for the resulting shortfall,we will decline to invest on the pitch?
We’ve got £60m in the bank,ffs. It doesn’t pay enough in interest to cover UEFA fines against the Green Brigade-or The Enemy Within,as he prefers to call Celtic supporters,people who actually pay for the pleasure of being there when he allows them to be.
We now have a football operation which is supporting the Plc even as it is being undermined by it. We have a public relations disaster on our hands because we continue to allow the most atrocious of lies to be bandied about our fans,our manager,our players and the very club itself. Even The New York Times is running with stories about racism at Celtic Park-because the club will not speak up for itself. The SFA give us the finger at every turn as does the SPFL. Chief executives and managers at various clubs roundly condemn us in every way imaginable,while the SMSM report it gleefully and make the rest up.
What they can’t make up,Jabba supplies and they print unquestioningly-witness the clown in the huns end last week who fell down the stairs but then told the papers he was hit by a pound coin.
Peter Lawwell,you were clearly good at something once. You have made more money from this club than any other employee in its long and glorious history so you can be very grateful that you will never need to prove your worth to another employer. I haven’t even scratched the surface in the above of your failings in over fifteen years at Celtic. I’m pretty sure history will not be kind to you,and the sooner you leave the better it will be.
Go now,while there are still enough Celtic supporters left to actually care anymore.
Above article by BMCUWP.