Way back in the sands of time, when Celtic fans fought for the survival of our club alongside Fergus McCann, there were a number of high-profile fans who could, at any point, have jumped ship and taken a different road. Matt McGlone was famously offered a job as a board hatchet-man and turned it down. Approaches were made to others.
When the war was over and the rebels had won, the guys who had been involved in the campaign didn’t try to ingratiate themselves into the new regime. They had very clear reasons for doing what they did, and when it was over the left the professionals – like Fergus – to get on with the job. Their one stipulation was that the fans should have a chance to play a role in the future of the club, and that was fulfilled when the share issue was started.
No-one was seeking a seat on the board. No-one asked for anything in return. Over the years, Celtic fans have tried to influence the direction of the club in a number of ways. Sucking up to The Man was never one of them.
Supporters groups like The Green Brigade refused to acknowledge the legitimacy of John Reid as chairman, for example, and he ran things in a stable and professional manner; indeed, his pitbull tendencies were just what the doctor ordered as the Internet Bampot era was being ushered in. No more would Celtic fans sit “at the back of the bus” and he made it clear that the club wouldn’t either. It was a combative time.
Still a lot of our fans never took to him, as some have never taken to Peter Lawwell despite his obvious skills as a businessman.
There is no way in Hell we would have let a charlatan like Whyte take over. No way we would ever have stood for a moron like Green getting his hands on the controls. We would have been deeply suspicious about the motives of Mike Ashley and the idea that we would ever have let our club be run from the boardroom by a convicted fraudster (far less two of them; one of the Easdale’s had done time, let’s not forget) under any circumstances.
But then, we’ve never been quite so susceptible to grandiose promises or to dog-whistle politicking. Even Reid’s grandstanding didn’t convince his critics. Sevco’s fans have always been more pliable, and I’ve always said it starts out with all the “God save the Queen” pish they believe in; “long to reign over us” has pretty obvious connotations, after all. They are content to be easily led. They never wanted the responsibility of doing it for themselves.
It doesn’t surprise me to see King reaching out to his fan reps in Sevco’s moment of crisis; I’ve been expecting it for weeks. It was the obvious ploy, after all. An appeal to unity. A re-tread of all the old supremacy and superiority nonsense. A reminder of how “the enemy” are and that nothing pleases us more than to “see them divided.” I could write the script for how that meeting will go, and I know exactly will happen in the aftermath.
For what good is an appeal to unity unless it ends with a statement of such? The “fan reps” will tell their fellow supporters to get behind the club. Note that word. The club. Which is a lovely catch-all that no-one will realistically be able to argue with.
What they’ll actually mean of course is “trust Dave King”, for that is the purpose of the meeting and that’s what the agenda will be. This is why the supporter’s organisations were merged into one, one where the board has its own influence. Some of those fan reps do want seats on the board, they do want a reward for their loyalty and if that means screwing their fellow supporters there are those amongst their number willing to do exactly that.
It’s happened before, and they have zero shame. They smell opportunity, even amidst this chaos. Some of them supported Whyte and Green both and then couldn’t wait to jump into the King camp, all the while writing their books about “the journey” and their own alleged part in it. In spite of playing an active role in misleading all around them they were content to harvest the goodwill of their fellow fans for their own profit.
Some of them have grander ambitions than mere money of course, and that should scare their fellow supporters even more than if they were just in it for the quick buck.
There will be no overt criticism. There will be no hard questions. There will be no close scrutiny. They might ask some pointed questions about what the overall plan is but they won’t do anything that threatens their own cushy numbers and access to power.
Sevco fans have been abysmally served by these guys, and when they agreed to merge the various supporters groups into one last year that removed any opportunity many of them had to be heard at all. There are individual supporter’s organisations – like the RSL – who want nothing from the King boardroom, who want to see their club be a success and nothing more, who think that guy is an absolute chancer who should be run out of town on a rail, but they have no voting influence amidst Club 1872, a creature of King but one which holds all the cards.
They are not voiceless – indeed, a couple of their bloggers are outstanding writers with a full grasp of this situation and how serious it is – but right now they are largely powerless, and they will read tonight’s news about the Club 1872 reps being invited for tea and biscuits in the Blue Room with a great deal of foreboding and despair.
It’s a horrible truism of a moment like this than even amidst the ashes, some folks have their hands out and their beady eyes trained on the spoils of war.
Shame on them, but don’t expect them to show any.
When everything’s said and done, some of them couldn’t give a damn about their club.
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