Celtic’s Annual General Meeting took place at Celtic Park today as the club and shareholders reflected on a year in which the Scottish Premiership trophy was secured for the 10th season in 11. Chairman, Ian Bankier (70) confirmed his decision to step down as at the end of next month, 11 years after replacing John Reid in the job. An announcement on his replacement will be made to the stock market before then.
The most illuminating part of the day was Celtic FC Foundation chief exec., Tony Hamilton, explaining the work your Foundation has done in the past year and has planned for the difficult winter months ahead. The Foundation continues to feed, educate, aid those in need of medical assistance and help those struggling in poverty. Whatever happens on the park at Celtic, the Foundation is your proudest boast.
Ange Postecoglou pinned his familiar colours to the mast. If we are to reach the highest levels of European football, we will not do so playing defensively in the Champions League. It is an admiral conviction and Ange had more than enough affection to carry this or any other room full of Celtic supporters. Other outcomes are possible.
It was not overtly clear to the room, but much of Celtic’s planning in recent times has been to be in the right place when Uefa change the Champions League in 2024. Next season’s competition will feature the last of the Group Stages, a status that has occupied our hopes and dreams for so many years.
Instead, an open draw from 36 teams will see participants play four home games and four away, all against different sides. Getting into this 36 team contest and remaining is a huge objective for the club.
Chief executive, Michael Nicholson spoke to on-going stadium developments. The new sports bar opened recently in the Jock Stein Stand, which will help fans who travel from distance in particular. Lots more work is needed here. We have a fine 20th century stadium but the more Celtic fans travel to great European stadiums and come back with tales of extravagances, like catering facilities you can reach during halftime, handtowels in the toilets throughout the day, merchandise outlets you can spend money at, from the largest seating area at the group, the more we will realise there is work to be done.
Fan liaison chief, John Paul Taylor spoke about the fight he led (although he took no credit for it) against the regime at Glasgow City Council, who planned to impose a 1m parking exclusion zone around Celtic Park on match days. This would have displaced the nearest drivers to park 1m away, while many would be forced multiples of this distance.
It was a beyond crazy idea that only a local government/Holyrood/Westminster politician could have suggested.
Chief Financial Officer, Chris McKay dived into the numbers, indicating some significant relief that the years without fans were behind us. He and former chief executive, Peter Lawwell, had a significant influence on the new Uefa Financial Fair Play regulations. An understated indication of the soft power the club has amassed in the game in recent years.