IS Celtic more than just a club or is that just a clever statement used by the club’s marketing department? VFR800 explores the concept that Celtic is about more than just playing football and assesses how we as Celtic supporters contribute to the very essence of Celtic….
“Celtic, like Barcelona, are more than a football club. Our clubs are a symbol of a culture and community that has not always been made welcome in their respective countries.” Xavi (Barcelona midfielder)
“What these players have to realise, is that when you put on the Celtic jersey you’re not playing for a football team, you’re playing for a community and a cause.” Tommy Burns
“This Celtic football club is much more than a football club to a lot of people it’s a way of life.” Robert Kelly (ex-Chairman)
“Football without the fans is nothing.” Jock Stein
“You don’t play for Celtic, you live for Celtic.” Tommy Burns
None of these are platitudes. They are quotes sourced from the excellent Celtic Wikiabout our Club. I think they sum up the nature and substance of our great Club. For me, like many others, Celtic is a way of life. It’s a way of life I inherited from my Dad. It’s part of my triumvirate of F’s that are central to my life: Faith, Family and Football (though Mrs VFR will probably argue that I put football first!)
The Club has changed in many ways since I started to watch football in the early/mid-sixties; some for the better, some maybe not so. In my opinion, one thing that has not changed is the fact that we are still more than just a Club. We are the greatest football club in the world; not because of our achievements on the field of play, but because of our raison d’etre, ethos, and wonderful fanbase worldwide.
This was summed up in Paul67’s article on how the Res12 funding continued to build on the great work already completed by CQN in supporting Mary’s Meals (read HERE). It was echoed by Winning Captains post about the threats to Paul Larkin and the arrest of another Celtic fan who is involved with FAC.
So why am I writing this piece? Well, I’d been thinking about the continued criticism of the Club, the PLC Board and the Chief Executive in particular over the recent weeks; continued negativity that often pervades the Blog, but has been more evident (and at times more vitriolic) during the transfer window and in the run up to the recent game against The Rangers.
Some of the comments and posts from those who class themselves as Celtic fans beggar belief in my opinion. These comments included pointed criticism of those fans who show any support at all for the PLC Board or Chief Executive; and those who attended the first Glasgow Derby against The Rangers. There have also been suggestions that some of those involved in Res12 misappropriated funds and were being worked from behind by the board!
It was taken to a new level last night with a suggestion we should have thrown the game against Alloa rather than potentially coming up against The Rangers in the semi-final or final of the League Cup and the assertion that those supporting their team in the League Cup were mugs.
It is obvious that some of our visitors to CQN are Trolls; they are usually easy enough to spot and ignore. However, some who are verifiable, bona fide Celtic fans are assuming that they have a God-given right to take the moral high ground. They want to preside as judge, jury and executioner over those who disagree with their stance and opinion. They have set themselves up as the moral custodians of the club based upon what they think the Club was, is and should be. They seem to be harking back to their version of the halcyon days for the Club – prior to Fergus McCann and the current PLC Board.
The days when the White’s and the Kelly’s ran the club; the days when the fans had no say or input to the club; the days when the symbiosis of the Old Firm was accepted and acceptable (even at the height of Rangers Sectarian Policy and the mibbery that was always prevalent). Those days saw a great man like Jock Stein treated appallingly and brushed aside by the Club he transformed on the park. A complete lack of investment by the then Board saw the decimation of the footballing side of the Club and the fan facilities becoming archaic.
I remember those days well; I would go along to games where the average attendance was similar to that of last nights game against Alloa. Days when our fans were so disaffected that less than 20,000 would turn up for most games. Days when the Establishment and the Footballing Authorities openly worked against our Club for the benefit of Rangers. Remember the Jorge Cadete fiasco? The one The Bunnet called them out for? That type of discrimination had been going on for years.
Aye, The Halcyon Days indeed! I remember them culminating in The Muggleton days.
At this point I will clearly state that I am not an apologist for the Board. The successive Boards since the transformation of the Club by Fergus McCann have made some poor decisions along the way; some have taken the gloss off the many good works they have done.
Nor am I an apologist for Peter Lawwell; again he has made mistakes along the way. I have met him a couple of times and he seems, to me, to be a decent and honest man who has a great love for the Club and is doing what he thinks is right. However, some of his decisions have baffled and angered me.
What we do have to accept though is that there has been a fundamental change in the Club since Fergus McCann prevented the cabal in Edinburgh from closing us down; Paul Larkin’s “The Asterisk Years” explains this Machiavellian approach far better than I can. Transparent Corporate Governance is now in play and the Club is a business that is governed by Legislation and can no longer obfuscate its financial dealings.
The Clubs Mission Statement includes the following:
“Celtic Football Club is a Scottish football club with proud Irish links. The primary business of Celtic is as a football club. It is run on a professional business basis with no political agenda. However, the Club has a wider role and the responsibility of being a major Scottish social institution promoting health, well-being and social integration.”
It expands on this in the Social Charter:
“Celtic will continue to change in order to meet the aspirations of its fans and to live up to the principles behind Brother Walfrid’s reasons for founding the Club. This will be carried out within a sound business plan ensuring development of the football set up and continued improvement for Celtic Park.”
Both of these excerpts clearly state that the primary function is to operate a football club with a sound business plan, improving the team and the stadium. The reality is that the PLC Board and Chief Executive are bound by laws and regulations that dictate how the PLC operates. This might not fit in with precisely how we want them to do things; but not running the business properly with effective Corporate Governance leads to events that, for instance, has your club enter administration; being liquidated; and then dying. Ring any bells?
It should be recognised that the Board have invested heavily in the footballing side with the appointment of Brendan Rodgers and his coaching staff; Rodgers has stated that he has been supported by the Board in bringing in the players he wants; he is confident that will continue in the forthcoming transfer windows. The result of this is that we are now in the Champions League Group Stage and going well domestically.
The recent news in the last week that the Club is back in the black and has sufficient cash reserves should be welcomed; this will become significantly better with the Champions League income and the uptake in Season Tickets this season. It doesn’t excuse the lack of investment in the playing side in recent years, or the opportunities missed. It does, in my opinion, mean that we are now going forward in the correct manner.
No doubt the hand-wringers will see this involvement in the Champions League as anathema to their moral rectitude; the fact that The Rangers fans being charged £49 was succumbing to “the blue pound”. They will still see the rest of us as mugs or sops to the Board. I’m past caring to be honest.
The works of the Kano Foundation; the raising of over £170,000 for charity by the Green Brigade; the continued work of the Celtic FC Foundation; the good spirit and camaraderie of cyber-places like CQN; the food-banks being filled by Celtic fans. These are the positives of our great Club. This is why I love Celtic; that and the team of course.
I go along to games and meet many like-minded people. When we go abroad, we are welcomed and lauded by the locals (except in Amsterdam). The times have changed and the way the Club operates has changed. The Club was founded to feed the poor and the hungry. We are still doing that. The original ethos of the Club is still there and should be celebrated.
This is what we need to pass on to the current and forthcoming generations of Celtic fans: WE, the fans, are the Club. The PLC Board are merely custodians.
We were always more than just a club; we are still more than just a club; we will always be more than just a club.
That’s what separates us from all other clubs in the world!