Somehow a way needs to be found to live in the business world that Celtic occupy as a PLC whilst being true to the spirit in which the club was created. The world we do live in has dictated that Celtic becomes a PLC. The PLC remit requires that Celtic as ‘the Company’ be run as a business by Stock Market rules. The PLC Board and CEO are obliged to discharge their duties/ roles; legally, financially and morally in the best interests of their shareholders and support. This is a burden the support does not carry, but it is one where we could if allowed to, play a greater role.
It has been clear for some time that the PLC model for conducting business has been successful in making Celtic PLC more professional as a business (although there is always room for improvements in any business) but it is impossible to deny that in terms of supporter satisfaction and uniting both club and support the PLC approach to conducting business has been something of a disaster.
The relationship with the support has never been good since the PLC was formed, although any on field success that has been achieved has tended to mask the underlying dissatisfaction. The support get annoyed about the way they are treated by the PLC face of Celtic, not because that is the intent of Celtic PLC, but because the normal way of PLC working makes disaffection and alienation almost inevitable.
That annoyance and dissatisfaction turns first to anger and then disaffection as suggestions for improvement on a number of issues appear to fall on deaf ears. It is no surprise therefore that when Celtic face difficult times on the field of play, the support feel like withdrawing their support altogether rather than providing it.
But if the darkest hour is just before dawn then through the Open Meeting process and the consequent indication from Peter Lawell that Celtic would take a positive view towards involving supporter representatives before decisions are made, rather than making them and telling us afterwards, a significant ray of light has appeared.s
Whether this ray of light brightens the future or dims and dies all depends to what degree attitudes change at both Celtic PLC and the various supporter groups, either real, like The Celtic Trust, the Celtic Supporters Association, the Green Brigade, Jungle Boys and others who have attended the Open Meetings or the virtual on line “Celtic Cyberspace” groups. The latter like Celtic Underground, Kerrydale St, Celtic Quick News, Celtic Minded,Lost Bhoys (with apologies to all cyber entities omitted) have the power to both articulate views and ideas and inform/misinform perceptions about Celtic in equal measure and in their own way represent the mindset of the support.
In the past Celtic’s perceived/real reluctance to engage in a meaningful two way dialogue has discouraged the various support groups, real or virtual, from either attempting dialogue or has meant that where it has happened with individual groups at different times, that it has been accompanied with or resulted in a fair degree of cynicism in terms of influence and effectiveness.
That could now change and one vehicle for taking forward this positive change of attitude signalled by Celtic and so ensuring the ray of light does not dim and die is a motion from the Celtic Trust to the Celtic PLC AGM this year. This specifically says :
This AGM requests that the Board set in place a series of discussions with the various bodies which represent Celtic supporters on the advantages and disadvantages of direct representation from these bodies on the Plc Board.”
Its adoption would open the road to meaningful dialogue between Celtic PLC and other representative real life supporter groups, not just the Celtic Trust, who are simply operating in this instance as the vehicle for enabling wider dialogue and communication, but also with those cyberspace virtual groups who wish and/or are able to organise themselves on representative grounds, to engage and participate in whichever process emerges as a result of the motion being passed.
If the AGM motion fails, the Open Meeting process offers the means to continue dialogue by engaging with Celtic on matters of mutual and beneficial interest like SFA transparency and the Poppy in which they are already engaged, but a more representative arrangement flowing from the AGM motion is the ideal.
As the custodians of the welfare of Celtic it behoves those custodians to engage with the Celtic support to look at ways of addressing issues that will always be an underlying cause of dissatisfaction and possible disaffection, regardless of on field performances, if they are not tackled with a sense of unity.
If ever there was a time to set the wheels in motion for a Celtic united it is now. Addressing this unity issue together in the coming months will not only help take Celtic through the leans times on the field of play, that are always part and parcel of football life, but will also heighten that sense of enjoyment when we are successful by giving us back that feeling of “belonging” I last felt after Tommy Burn’s sad death inspired it in us at Tannadice in 2008, that feeling that makes just being a Celtic supporter a unique experience in the world, never mind the world of football.