Why let the tax man have all the fun when we can all buy shovels and start digging their grave ourselves?
The shovel, of course, is a Fan Ownership Scheme (FOS) for our beloved Celtic. Implemented effectively, this could lead to an annual budget of £30 million for investment in team development. That really would be ‘jelly and ice cream’ time, ensuring our domination of the Scottish game, with the bonus of guaranteed year-on-year participation in the Champions League. Regular participation in the last 16 would become the norm.
We have listed below ten main reasons why a FOS is at least worthy of debate within the Global Celtic Community. Are we living in the same cloud cuckoo land as Craig Whyte with this idea or is a Fan Ownership Scheme critical to the short, medium and long term future of our Club? Feedback and comments are very much welcome. Is this a debate worth having?
Future articles will look at successful Fan Ownership Schemes at other Clubs; how it might work for us; the obstacles to be overcome; and next steps for ‘getting there’. The case of Benfica, in particular, is worth looking at from a Celtic point of view.
THE TEN REASONS TO CONSIDER A FAN OWNERSHIP SCHEME
- Credit Where Credit is Due (off the park): The concept of a Fan Ownership Scheme should in no way be seen as a criticism of the current Board of Directors. The Celtic support fully appreciate the critical importance of sound financial management and we thank you for your efforts in this area over the last decade or more. However, today we stand at a crossroads in our history. We can stand still, go back or move forward to take our rightful place at the top echelons of European football? A successful FOS is the best, indeed the only, way of achieving this. If there is a good reason why a Fan Ownership Scheme would not work, we would encourage someone from the PLC telling us why that would be the case. If it is something worth debating, please join the conversation. After all, we have the same ambition for Celtic, don’t we?
- Credit Where Credit is Due (on the park): The majority of Celtic fans would agree that NL and his background staff are putting together a fine young team with real potential. However, all top teams balance youth with experience, by signing a few top quality players. A Fan Ownership Scheme will provide NL with a significant on-going annual budget for team development. This could be as high as £30m per annum. More importantly it would be sustained long-term investment in the team, while at the same time remaining debt free. Where would that leave THEM?
- THEM: Talking about them, there is a strong likelihood that RFC will emerge from their current difficulties in a much stronger, debt free financial position. Remember, they are the establishment club and the establishment look after their own. We need to be ready for this. We need to be 30 steps ahead of them. To paraphrase a ‘come back and bite you on the bum’ quote, for every 10 pence they might spend, we need to be in a position where we can spend £30, if necessary. How nice would it be to watch them emerge from their current predicament at the same time as we disappear into the European sunset? And ‘The Bill’ is not even on the telly for them to watch anymore. The history of Celtic FC is a history where we have consistently failed to fully capitalise on periods of RFC decline. Please don’t let it happen again. We are the only people who can really bury THEM for good.
- We Are The People: We all know who the real people are. FACT: Celtic fans are the best in the world. It’s that simple. Give us a chance to prove how good we really are by handing ownership and control back to the people who love Celtic, all 10 million of us. This is not our estimate. It is the estimated number of Celtic fans, and those of a Celtic disposition worldwide, used by the Club’s PR machine when talking to potential sponsors. PS unlike Scotland’s Shame we use the WATP term in a totally non-fascist way. Race, creed, colour, sexuality etc not important. The only requirement is a love of Celtic.
- Investment in Team Development: While there will be numerous points of detail about the Fan Ownership Scheme that will need to be sorted out by people more expert than us, the bottom line question for the majority of Celts is what difference will it make on the park? A successful FOS could result in an annual budget of £30 million for team development – yes £30 million per year. Consider this – 100,000 fans and those with a Celtic disposition contribute £10 per month. This equates to an on-going yearly investment in team development of £12 million. Such investment would ensure our domination of the domestic game, regular participation in the Champions League and a strong possibility of last 16 participation on a frequent basis. This would leverage additional revenue of £15 million per annum. Additional merchandise sales, sponsorship etc would bring this well above £30 million per year. We are sure that there are many Celtic Minded lawyers, accountants and other professionals who would only be too happy to contribute their services to ensure that sound business and legal practices are followed. Please get in touch for a chat. This investment of £30m per annum may seem implausible to many. However, as a future article will show, it is of a similar magnitude to the sums raised by the membership schemes of clubs such as Benfica – so achievable. Who is the bigger of the two Clubs?
- Where are the 100,000?: The obvious question to ask in all of this is whether we can find 100,000 fans willing to make a monthly contribution of £10. To those who doubt we can, a one word answer will suffice – Seville! The one game in our history that showed without a shadow of a doubt the size and global power of the Celtic diaspora. Why have we gone backwards since then?
- Open to All: It should be noted that the 100,000 @ £10 per month target is only one of many ways a FOS can be successfully achieved. Some fans may be able and willing to contribute more; others less. As befits the founding principles of our great Club, the FOS will operate on a one person, one vote basis regardless of ability to pay. The only requirement for membership is a love of all things Celtic.
- The Internet and Globalisation: As future articles will show, there are many football clubs around the world who operate successful Fan Ownership Schemes. None of these Clubs come anywhere near the global potential of Celtic. The Internet and Social Media present major opportunities for building a united online global Celtic community who would both own and control the club. A very exciting opportunity is that the FOS would open up the Club to hundreds of thousands of non-traditional fans. Just consider the potential in countries such as Japan and S. Korean where player signings have been made. Don’t just support Celtic, part own it.
- United We Stand, Divided We Fall: It goes without saying that professional managers will always manage the Club’s affairs on a day-to-day basis, on and off the Park. On the park, we would hope that the current management team, under the leadership of NL, are with us for a very long time to come. The FOS would provide them with massive financial support. The most important difference in the way the Club would operate is that all major ‘strategic’ decisions would be made on a democratic, ‘one member, one vote’ basis. The Board of Directors would be fully accountable to the new owners, the fans.
- Power of the crowd: Leveraging the global power of the Celtic Diaspora, the FOS can create a ‘tipping point’ that propels us into our rightful place in the top echelons of European football. A side benefit is that it will finally tip ‘THEM’ over the edge.
The party started at Inverness, continued at Swinecastle and no doubt Easter Rd on Sunday will be something special. ‘We’re having a party when Ragers die……. Jelly and ice cream when Ragers die…. Pass the parcel when Ragers die……Do the huddle when Ragers die’.
How much more fun would it be if we could capitalise on their demise by bringing those big European nights back to Celtic Park on a regular on-going basis? Now that would be a series of parties to look forward to.
We would very much welcome the thoughts and comments of fellow Celts on this article. Is there something here worth discussing? Would you support a Fan Ownership Scheme? If you think that the concept is ‘pie in the sky’ please tell us why?
PS Talking about the gathering gloom over ipox, a massive thanks to the Celtic fan who runs the www.rangerstaxcase.com web site. All fellow Tims owe you a great debt of gratitude. We hope that one day you can ‘out’ yourself to receive the public recognition you deserve for the work you have done over the last couple of years. But then again if you ‘come out’, you will probably need to emigrate. Please keep up the fight. Victory is in sight.