Today is exactly two years since our best manager since Martin O’Neill,and probably our best since Jock Stein,walked out on our club. If a week is a long time in politics,then two years is an age in football. Brendan Rodgers arrived at the club less than three years earlier,and left having won all seven domestic trophies available and well on the way to an incredible Treble Treble.
All of us were,of course,furious at his timing. Walking out halfway through the season was and still is unforgiveable,but a great many of us knew the reason why he would agree to do so. In fact,it was the same reason why MAHE and I had decided to set this site up less than six months previously-and that was the interference by Peter Lawwell,which amounted to Lawwell preventing Rodgers from doing his job. His job was to get the players requested by Rodgers-as long as they were within the budget-but he either signed who he liked and foisted them unbidden onto Rodgers,or simply didn’t bother completing requested deals,preferring instead to lowball the selling club and incoming player to the point where refusal by either or both was the inevitable outcome.
And he had a bad habit too of getting involved in pissing competitions with certain selling chairmen,people who would harbour that grudge in the future. And Lawwell is not the type to be held over a barrel. He’ll show everyone who’s boss,asking prices will not be met,no sirree.
The reason I bring this up now is the recent suggestion by Neil Lennon of mitigating circumstances behind the scenes which have led-in part at least-to this season’s horror story. His departure from the club,hard on the heels of the announcement that Lawwell would be leaving in the summer,has seen some clarifications offered in the media about the aborted transfer of Ivan Toney from Peterborough,who eventually went to Brentford.
We were told at the time that the deal fell through because Peterborough wanted £10m,and Celtic did not value him at that price. Which is fair enough-Brentford apparently paid £5m,with add-ons bringing it to a potential £10m. I’d suggest that with 24 goals already this season,and Brentford well placed for promotion,a fair amount of those add-ons will soon be realised. And he is already being spoken of as a £30m target for other clubs. Does PL have history here,history which might explain why a £6m deal for the player-who was actually at the ground to complete a deal with us!-fell through,and is it an example of a pissing competition with a chairman from the past?
I reckon so. Who can remember Lee Tomlin? Celtic had apparently agreed a £2.5m deal for him six or seven years ago,only to try to chisel down the offer to the club and player at the last minute. The deal didn’t happen,and Peterborough chairman Darragh McAnthony was scathing about the process,and Lawwell in particular. He had the upper hand this time,and made it plain,but Lawwell isn’t the type to accept that. So we signed Ajeti instead,the comments about needing to sell Eddie first being just a pack of lies.
What about Lawwell’s dealings with Petrie at Hibs? He refused to meet the asking price for Fletcher in 2009,having overpaid,in his opinion,for Scott Brown. So when the deal for John McGinn was set up thirty months ago,everything in place with just the final input required from PL,back came the grudges. Lawwell refused to pay the asking price,and let it be known that we would sign him for free on a pre-contract in January. Aston Villa agreed to meet the asking price and Lawwell ignominiously folded,but quite rightly McGinn had had enough and was off to Brum.
It isn’t always like this,of course. Lawwell doesn’t have grudges against everyone. After all,a phone call from Dudu Dahan,and a deal is done virtually on the spot! I struggle to think of any real successes from that avenue of communication,right enough,and I wonder how many times we have lost out on players in the past because of Lawwell’s brinkmanship. Those two players alone are a combined current value of £80m. Would they have enhanced too our chances of progress in Europe,bringing further millions into the club,and with them the ability to sign more and better players? We will never know,because The Lawwell Strategy put paid to any of that.
Just like two years ago-and I’ll put a link to my article then on the subject-when he got rid of a top manager and backroom team,he has to be seen to be calling the shots. And replacing a £5m a year management team with Neil Lennon on about a tenth of that was good business,wasn’t it? It saved us about £9m over two years-didn’t it?
Well,let me put it this way. Trying to save about a million quid on the two deals mentioned above has cost us about £80m. And saving that £9m on management costs? That’s probably cost us another £80m,and left us with a massive rebuild cost to boot.
I’ve said before that history will not be kind to Lawwell,even as he was being lauded to the skies elsewhere. But this particular history has already been written,it is only the cost of leaving this man in charge for so long that has yet to be finalised. Celtic will be paying that for a long time to come.
Above article by BMCUWP