Dear Mr Lawwell,
Thank you for inquiring as to why I felt it appropriate to not renew my season ticket for season 2009/10.
I had toyed with the idea of writing to you, but came to the conclusion that Celtic weren’t interested in the opinions of fans, and haven’t been for a number of years. Indeed, I haven’t changed my opinion on this, I believe that by acting as ‘consumers’ (and choosing not to consume) Celtic fans en-masse, this season more than ever, are sending a very clear message to the Club that we are far from content with the way the Club is being managed.
Let me start by saying that I haven’t felt so disillusioned with Celtic for a long time. In fact, since I was eight. That was the year Kenny Dalglish left. I was heart broken. How would Celtic ever continue without Kenny?
But we did, of course we did.
Players came and went, leagues and cups were won and lost.
Everything wasn’t great, everybody knew we weren’t a well run Club, but the passion was there, the excitement, we were Celtic!
Then came the brink of oblivion in 1994, the fans rallied to Fergus McCann and we all put our money where our mouths and our passions were.
The Club changed over the period of Mr McCann’s leadership. Changed for the better in my opinion. We were now a well run Club, on a professional footing. The Hampden year saw thousands of supporters buy season tickets for the first time, myself included. There were disagreements about the level of funding available for the team in order to win the trophy we all craved, but memories of the White’s and Kelly’s gross mismanagement meant nobody sane wanted to be back in that position again.
As supporters we could see progress, we could see management and planning, each year we moved forward, new stands, new players, taking on the SFA and winning.
The passion and ambition was there, we were going places on and off the pitch, finally winning the league – McCann’s 5 year plan worked.
We then entered a period where the managed risks of Mr McCann were very nearly completely undone under the stewardship of Allan McDonald and the ‘high water line’ of Seville still being payed for.
Why am I telling you what you probably know better than me?
To show you I remember the bitter years of in-fighting, the lack of success, the lack of ambition, the hand to mouth existence, the lack of management and planning, the financial mess the Club became. To make you realise that I and countless thousands of other Celtic supporters know we do not want to go back there.
We are told the accounts are in great shape and the balance sheet is healthy.
And so they should be – as I, and thousands of others, have done everything that has been asked of us. Continuing to purchase season tickets year on year, and every form of merchandise from key rings to credit cards and countless jersey releases and share issues.
And yet here we are, 14 years later and I see in-fighting, I see lack of success, a clear lack of ambition, I see downsizing, I see dreadful players bought on the cheap, I see seasons pass with no investment in clear problem areas of the team, I see lack of management and planning, I see players purchased who can’t compete in the competitions we are playing in, I see a Championship level manager deemed good enough to manage Celtic, I see legalised ticket touting agreements with Thomas Cook, and I see John Reid Chairman of our Club.
I see Clubs who we have defeated; Barcelona, Manchester United, Porto, Valencia, Liverpool, Milan and Shakhtar Donetsk progress and win European tournaments.
I see no progress from Celtic. I see no passion to progress and move forward, no ambition, no planning, no long term joined up thinking, I see no investment that would have taken us into the Champions League.
Instead I see Celtic loose a league title to an appalling team who have a 40 year old Captain and settle for second best in Europe.
And yet still I’m asked to contribute to the Board’s goal of debt repayment.
Enough. No more. I cannot validate a grossly stupid, simplistic and short sighted goal by maintaining my season book.
I feel hugely angry, hurt and betrayed.
I feel nothing but apathy for the upcoming season, the 2nd rate European competition we are involved in, the 3rd rate domestic league we play in, the SPL journeymen players we are being asked to pay, a manager whose only real qualification is he once played for Celtic.
I am angry that the Board have made me feel eight again.
Of course, just as then, Celtic will continue.
I can only hope it does so with an owner and people at the helm who really share the passion the Club’s support have and who work towards delivering their ambitions, because I for one, have never felt so low about our Club’s present, never mind our Club’s future.
It’s easy to look back I suppose and say I was right – but surely when an eedjit like me can see what’s in front of them the highly paid Chief Executive should be able to see what’s staring him in the face. Having said that, maybe it wouldn’t be good for his bonus to do so.
In the end I renewed my ticket when Keane arrived, and I will do so again next year. Why? – well, sitting at a half full Celtic Park for the Motherwell game I realised I support Celtic and that’s the end of the matter. I live in London and don’t get up much, so maybe guys that live closer don’t realise what they have got. Maybe familiarity does bread contempt and absence make the heart grow fonder – there is said to be an underlying truth to most clichés!
Given I am clearly blessed with a foresight Nostradamus would be proud of (I wanted Roy Hodgson instead of Mowbray!), my opinion on the next manager? Well, given it won’t be Mourinho or O’Neill, with a little bit of time and a bit of polishing – I reckon we could have a wee diamond in Neil Lennon.