Celtic Shared insist club have "moral obligation" to refund supporters during first public forum

By Euan Davidson

March 11, 2021

Last night (10/3/21), Celtic Shared held its first online meeting with stakeholders. A select number of fan media outlets, organisers and prospective members joined to hear more about the fan-led organisation.

Celtic Shared came into prominence just last month. Launching in earnest with a series of explainer tweets, the group, which involves some CSCs, supporters groups, fan media and individuals are “agitating for change” in the way the club is run.

The mechanism for that, the group explained, was both direct grassroots action and the collective buying of shares. In the short-to-long-term, that means buying a percentage of shares in the club. In doing so, voting rights would be allocated to Celtic Shared and its members. Through democratic means, the group would respond to votes in club matters after polling of Celtic Shared members had been taken.

Spokesperson Paul Quigley outlined the goals of the pressure group:

“We want to build a bloc of supporters that can be boots on the ground, or, amidst the pandemic, building up pressure in other ways.

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“You seen in November, December time, the banner campaign. Whatever people thought of that – demand to get rid of Neil Lennon was one thing. But it’s easy for supporters to come up with different ways we can all, not just the Green Brigade, stuff we can all do.

“There’s Ordinary shares that allows people to vote, and Preferential shares that gives money dividends if they’re paid out. What we want is Ordinary shares that allows us to vote. There’s 94 million of them in circulation, so you’d be adding 20 million into that.

“For me, it’s a meaningful bloc, that would mean we’d have more of a say. That’s why we support it.”

Celtic fans protest / (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

 

“A moral obligation”; Celtic Shared set out intentions from the off

The meeting was full of encouraging nuggets of information for Celtic supporters.

Foremost, a pressing issue for thousands of supporters was “added value” for Season Ticket holders. Quigley explained that meetings involving CSCs, the Celtic Trust and other groups had taken place with the club on this matter. At that point, the outlook for the season was less grim than how it turned out.

But in this example, Quigley exemplified the kind of action Celtic Shared would be looking to take. Under a collective banner, the group would be pressuring the board for answers on vital matters for supporters.

Quigley expressed disappointment with how the club had gone quiet on “value” for supporters after promising meetings had taken place in the summer of 2020.

He told attendees:

“For me, the club has a moral obligation to refund supporters.

“When we were discussing it [with the club], we were naively thinking things will get better in terms of the pandemic. We might miss 4 or 5 games, come back in October time. Obviously, that hasn’t happened.

“We were meeting with the club on that basis, and what we were discussing very specifically was “equal value” for the season ticket. The club released a statement two days later, and the language was changed to “added value”. But within that they still made a commitment to honour those discussions.

“Those discussions were centred around maintaining the value. What was meant by that was… we wanted to ensure if, for example, we missed 6 games, fans would eventually get those 6 games back.

“In terms of the research we’ve done… there isn’t a club in Europe that’s sold 53,000 season tickets at full price and given the fans a stream in return.

“Celtic like to say they’re a club like no other. In this instance, they’re absolutely right. They agreed with the fan groups to maintain the value of the season ticket.”

The Celtic board / (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

A very promising start, but much to be done

If anything was reflected in the meeting last night, it was that the issues supporters have with the club are vast.

The challenge for Celtic Shared is addressing these concerns, while making proposals to the board that aren’t too diffuse. However, unclear messaging has never been a problem for supporters’ groups in the past.

The Season Ticket question was just one of dozens of posers for Celtic Shared. Some attendees liked the energy of Celtic Shared, but were cynical about whether the mechanisms to affect change were attainable in the modern era. With the club running as a PLC, its board are only truly answerable to their shareholders.

However, if there was an influential voting bloc amongst the shareholders, who were unified under one banner, then it could have a lasting positive impact on the club.

We’ll certainly be keeping our ear to the ground as Celtic Shared look to develop their message. If there’s one thing fans are unanimous on, it’s that this season has shown the mismanagement at Celtic cannot continue.

How we solve that issue, however, is the source of lengthy debate.

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