Following on from the CELTSFORCHANGE 2021 petition posted as yesterday’s article-not to mention quite a few posted by ourselves!-and the Neil Lennon presser on Monday,it is maybe time to examine one or two of the reasons why our club has lost its way so badly off the field that petitions are being raised while heavily-edited excerpts of said presser are widely circulated.
It has long been a bugbear of mine that our club PR is so amateurish and shambolic as to be effectively non-existent. There are a number of reasons for that,chief amongst which is the simple fact that we don’t actually employ a PR spokesman,someone to head up even a fledgling PR department. That means that when our footballers-who are employed for what they bring to the club in their capacity as footballers-are placed in front of professional journalists,as they frequently are,they are at a huge disadvantage. These journalists wouldn’t fancy being a one-man band playing a roomful of professional footballers at football,but our club expects the opposite to be true,expects footballers-many of whom are trying to communicate in a foreign language-to acquit themselves with all the aplomb of a politician.
Even a politician who had just been seen kicking a baby when he was supposed to be kissing it wouldn’t face such a hostile press pack as our players do,but there they are,hung out to dry and subject to editing which is selective at best. When people appear in court-this may have changed with the times,of course-they promise to tell the truth,the whole truth and nothing but the truth. In that statement,of the three the most important deals with the whole truth. Quoting out of context,selective editing,lying by omission. These are all of a piece with the actions and intent of a media which is hostile to Celtic,and always has been. Perhaps our Head of Public Relations is otherwise engaged.
We are now also two thirds of the way through the transfer window,and there has not been mention yet of personnel changes in the playing squad. In fairness,this could go down as the quietest window ever for almost every club worldwide due to the pandemic and the uncertainty of even being permitted to finish the season. Yes,a mass vaccination programme is underway,and we should all be grateful to the clinicians and scientists who have made this possible in such a short period of time,but the possibility of a mutation which renders those vaccines ineffective lingers menacingly in the background. Even so,there are a vast number of players who are out of contract in the summer,and if we have been doing our homework and identifying these players,then we should be moving to snap them up before other clubs beat us to the punch. Perhaps our Director of Football is otherwise engaged.
On the playing side of course,this season has been the worst by a long way since the days of the previous regime-despite having a squad which was,only six months ago,filled with players in the £20m plus bracket. At present,any bids for our players based on current/recent performances are unlikely and will be pitched so low that the club will not entertain them. Which leaves us with some big problems as some of our bigger names will be enterering into the last year of their contract in the summer. We could be faced with about half a team of players seeing out their time till moving on a free transfer,and very few players in such a position go that extra yard for their team. It is difficult to argue with those who want to leave,as the implosion this season gives them little motivation to hang around. The lack of professionalism,coaching,progression shown by the coaching staff all adds to the reasons for a change of scenery,and the lack of ambition from the board expressed in stark terms by the management/coaching appointments stands out in stark contrast to our repeated mantra of being a well-run club. Yet there seems to be little impetus from upstairs to deal with any of these problems. Perhaps our Chief Executive Officer is otherwise engaged.
Of course,no well-run company should ever entertain having set in stone for eternity directors,whether that be executive or non-executive,but most of ours are approaching a long-service award. There is a lot to be said for continuity-but it rarely applies under those circumstances. There are a number of reasons for this,but cosy familiarity and sliding into a comfort zone are the chief dangers wrought by such a policy. Nothing we have seen over the years from the suits suggests that they have enquiring minds,indeed the opposite-that they are all in thrall to our Chief Executive Officer.
Such is his hold on every aspect of the club,his control of every department,that even non-operational decisions cannot go forward without his consent. Even down to his agreement on new colour schemes in an office,as an example. For a man who came into the club nearly eighteen years ago in a relatively junior financial role-and with training and experience only in his own field of accountancy-he wields an extraordinary amount of power,fulfilling many roles that should be carried out by specialists in each particular discipline.His high salary and bonus package seem to reflect the duties that he carries out,as he seems to be paid for each of them! And yet,the expression Jack Of All Trades,Master Of None could have been coined especially for him-were it not for the fact that he is rather good at bringing in the sponsorship deals. Indeed,I would go so far as to suggest that his remit should extend only as far as negotiating sponsorship deals and player transfers,were it not for the fact that he repeatedly fails to get top dollar for our players,tries to shill other parties over incoming players,and actually signs players based purely on his own opinion,rather than that of his staff employed specifically for that purpose.
Except of course that there are none,and there have been none since he was strangely given carte blanche to run the club as his own personal fiefdom. To the extent in fact that were he to be run down by a bus tomorrow,the club would be in limbo,with no decisions able to be made because there are no departmental heads able or experienced enough to make decisions for those departments. They have all been made by our Chief Executive Officer. As have various other decisions,over equally important areas like Res 12,SFA governance,FFP,the continuity myth and the failure by the refereeing fraternity to do their job properly. Etc,etc,etc. He rules our club with a rod of iron,Mr Indispensable indeed-but The Invisible Man when we need someone to stand up for the club.
It is no secret that I have long called for his removal,or at the very least that he stick to what he is good at. Nor is it a secret that I don’t think Neil Lennon should be our manager. The club is facing enormous problems. It will be a major difficulty to remove and replace the manager at the same time as the CEO. It will be a major difficulty to fill the managerial position as well as a new CEO,Director of Football,employ an experienced Head of Public Relations,back room staff and technical advisors-and all at the same time. It will be an enormous difficulty to rebuild the first-team squad,given the likely number of departures,and also to get our youth department functioning properly again. In all of those areas there has been no succession planning,because the man in charge of succession planning has been doing nearly all of the jobs anyway-and he had no intention of shuffling off to the sidelines.
Well,sadly it is too late for that. Shuffling off to the sidelines is no longer on the agenda. An ignominious end to a toxic regime beckons,and his legacy will be far from what he and his supporters imagined. He will,as I’ve pointed out,be difficult to replace-but only because the club allowed him to make that so,not because of any outstanding qualities. Fly away,Peter. Celtic Park will be a better place without you.
Above article by BMCUWP