Dermot Desmond is Celtic's biggest problem

By Euan Davidson

December 1, 2020

Celtic majority shareholder Dermot Desmond reacted belligerently to Sunday’s post-game protests, a close source has told the Daily Record.

In fact, the scenes outside Celtic Park were more of a problem to Desmond than the team’s lack of fight this season. The source said:

It’s obviously been a terrible run of results for the manager but last Friday, despite the Europa League defeat against Sparta Prague, Dermot was absolutely unequivocal in his support for Neil. Yes, the defeat to Ross County was a bad one but the reaction to it was even more unacceptable as far as Dermot is concerned.

Desmond: visible for the good times / (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

The problems here are two-fold: 1. that Celtic’s top brass are unable to identify a glaring problem and 2. the protesting Celtic fans have played into Desmond’s hands.

This isn’t a knock on the Celtic fans; certainly the vast majority, at any rate. During a season in which Celtic Park’s seats lay empty and games are played out to eery silence, there are few channels to voice opinion.

Even if fans are divided over Lennon, there’s no doubt that fans would be reacting to Celtic’s gutless displays very vocally. It doesn’t matter who’s in charge, complacency and lack of effort are not welcome.

So when they demonstrated on Sunday, following the loss to Ross County, it was at the very least understandable. Whether you condone the extent of it is your own decision to make.

What are fans meant to do now?

However, to hear that crowd unrest has actually strengthened Desmond’s resolve is a slap in the face to all Celtic supporters.

Those who are for Neil Lennon may one day wish to protest another aspect of the club’s running. While this may not be the issue to demonstrate over, a club as big as Celtic will face occasional backlash over any number of issues. That’s the reality of a large institution, from bank to charity.

Desmond is either half-watching events unfold or he’s an active participant in the decline of Celtic this season. It’s hard to know which option is less appealing.

Desmond’s profligacy in decision making, or indeed, refusal to change things, will only damage the relationship between Neil Lennon and the Celtic supporters. Nobody wants that: Lenny is a club legend and most probably, always will be.

Nobody is enjoying the current rhetoric about Neil Lennon.

If Celtic can’t be fan-owned then at least we need leadership who are willing to listen. Currently, we don’t have that.

So if fans aren’t able to watch matches – quite understandable given the pandemic – how are they meant to voice their opinion without being pilloried for doing so?


Neil Lennon takes it all in / (Photo by Craig Foy/SNS Group via Getty Images)

Hard to accept

In prolonging Neil Lennon’s stay, Desmond is telling a significant number of our support that he isn’t willing to listen.

Any normal board, at any normal club, would have stemmed the tide of protest weeks ago. It would’ve acted in the best interests of the football club.

Regardless of how revered Neil Lennon is, and rightly so, performances under him have been horrendous. His being the Celtic manager is not in the best interests of the football club.

This is, unless, the board are actively trying to sabotage our most important season in decades.

It almost seems as if Desmond is acting out of spite at this stage. Testing the commitment and faith of the Celtic supporters ends badly; ask the Kelly dynasty.

As much as it pains me to say this, at least directors on the other side of the city knew when the tide was turning. At least they knew when to give up on a coach if things weren’t working.

There is simply too much at stake for Celtic Football Club at this point in time. We have the resources, players and support to achieve what seemed impossible. The 10 might not matter to anyone outside Celtic and Rangers supporters – and fair enough.

But to us, it’s a chance to make history, and it might never happen again.

Dermot Desmond is the biggest threat to that.