Immediately after Tony Mowbray was sacked the PR people at Celtic Park let it be known that neither Lawwell or John Reid would be available to discuss this turn of events for at least a week. It was made clear that only Neil Lennon would be put before the TV cameras or the radio microphones in the short term and no questions about Mowbray’s sacking would be permitted. It was assumed by various journalists that once the dust had settled at least one of the main men would do a sit down with some friendly hacks and the issues would be discussed. As you all know this did not happen in the weeks following the sacking of the manager.
Not one of the decision makers at the club stepped forward and admitted responsibility for the appointment of Tony Mowbray. Not one of the decision makers had the decency to speak to the “customers” about the extremely poor business decisions which have been made over the past 18 months. There has yet to be an acknowledgement of what we all know – the decision makers at the club made a dramatic misjudgement in the downsizing of the club following Seville, they made a dramatic misjudgement in the appointment of Strachan, they made a dramatic misjudgement in the January transfer window in 2009 when we spent the grand total of “undisclosed fee” and they made a dramatic misjudgement in the appointment of Tony Mowbray.
Now let’s be clear – Mowbray was an appointment that I was in favour of and as such I cannot be overly critical of that one but they got it wrong all the way down the line. They are paid to make the right decisions and they have failed to do this. As the support look back over the past decade we can see that rather than a “generation of domination” we have enjoyed 3 great years at the start and then endured 7 years of descent from that great height to eventually crash and burn over the past month. The current decision makers at the club have presided over a decline which is shameful. Look at May 2003 and trace our decline from that day.
The current Chief Executive joined the club in November 2003. Coincidence?
The days of being considered the sharp suited man are long gone for Lawwell. In the early days the support were seduced by his Murrayesque utterings to the press. However, eventually we came to see these statements for what they really were – empty promises. And as we became less inclined to fall for his lines Lawwell moved further into the background and the new Chairman, John Reid, stepped up to the plate.
Crowd pleasing comments about the Rangers songbook and hypocritical comments about leaving politics at the door didn’t convince many but he soldiered on. However, it was during the recent AGM when the mask finally slipped and his flair for intimidation came to the fore – snide comments to the Celtic Trust regardless of what the support may think of them is not what is expected of a Celtic Chairman. The position demands a degree of class and this former cabinet minister has none. However, the one thing Reid does have and Lawwell used to have is an opinion that they are only too happy to share.
So the question has to be asked: where are they? The silence from the top offices at Celtic Park over the past month has been deafening. Where is the chairman? Where is the Chief Executive? Where are the decision makers who have brought us to this low point in our history?
The answer is obvious – they are hiding.
John Reid is quick enough to have a pop at supporters who question him during AGMs. He’s quick enough to invite divisive figures such as the Israeli Ambassador to the club while at the same time telling the support to “leave their politics at the door.” Peter Lawwell is quick enough to jet over to South Korea to announce the signing of a new player. He is quick enough to announce joint sponsorship deals which he knows are not in the best interests of the support or the club. Our club is in the midst of its greatest crisis in the past decade and we badly need leadership and someone to show vision. Neil Lennon cannot provide that due to the temporary nature of his position. It is the responsibility of the decision makers to step forward and lead. That is what they are paid for and that is why they are in post. Someone has to explain why the decision to sack Tony Mowbray was made even if the evidence is overwhelming. Someone has to explain what action is being taken to find a suitable manager for August. Someone has to explain to the support just why the decision makers have made such awful decisions over the past seven years which have led us to the events of the past month.
Whilst not engaging brilliantly with new media the club have made attempts to develop lines of communication with the fans. We have a website, a weekly newspaper and an online tv show. We also have at least one or two sympathetic journalists who would provide Reid or Lawwell with a platform to communicate their vision of the future to the fans. There is no excuse for not doing this. It is essential that at least one of the decision makers at the club engages with the support in the early part of the coming week. We need clarity as to the direction of the club.
Strachan lost his job because he was to blame for the loss of the league last season. Mowbray lost his job because he was to blame for the loss of the league this season. Neil Lennon will not be appointed as permanent manager because he was to blame for the defeat against Ross County.
Lawwell and Reid have to realise that they are running out of fall guys. They must step into the spotlight they have previously appeared to crave and explain where the club is going. What is their vision for our club? Or do they simply cow-tow to Dermot Desmond? They should remember that the majority shareholder in Celtic remains the support. They must show the “decency and integrity” their positions as employees of Celtic Football Club demand. For all his faults even Kevin Kelly had the decency to face the fans on Sport in Question.
Lawwell and Reid must lead from the front and if they are unwilling or unable to do so they must step down.