Dermot Desmond refutes Celtic fan takeover suggestion; launches dig at Brian Dempsey

By David Walton

March 23, 2021

Dermot Desmond has provided an angry response at the notion a Celtic fan takeover is the way forward, and hit out at ex-Hoops director Brian Dempsey.

Desmond was interviewed today by the official Celtic in-house media team. Unsurprisingly, the questions looked as though they could’ve been written by himself they were so laughably direct.

In recent times, Celtic Shared and the Celtic Trust have been gaining popularity amongst supporters. This comes after a season in which fans have felt ignored and treated with disdain in by their board. Unsurprisingly then, the Trust in particular has been growing in support by fans who want the club to be owned by the supporters.

Ex-Celtic director Dempsey, who was crucial in the Fergus McCann takeover back in 1994, said in the Times that he believed Desmond would’ve been open to selling and that fan ownership was the way forward.

Today, Desmond produced an angry response. Speaking via Celtic’s official website, he said the following:

“Not for sale”

“My shares are not for sale. Brian Dempsey, in an article in The Times, is reported to be floating the idea that fans should own the Club and that we have reverted back to where we were in 1994. When I think about the strength of this Club today and the playing success that we have enjoyed to date, these are entirely attributable to being financially strong and being professionally managed under stable ownership.

“When I look back at the record of the Club since 2001, we have achieved remarkable success and encountered only a few set-backs along the way. This season has been one of them, but it does not re-create the conditions of the early 1990s, as Mr Dempsey would like to have us believe.

“One of Fergus McCann’s tenets was that the Club would be run professionally and that we should never return to the position he inherited where the entire existence of Celtic could be jeopardised by mis-management and unacceptable levels of indebtedness. Celtic is and will continue to be run on a meritocratic basis by the best executives available at the time.

There is no member of the Celtic Board that I personally knew before they were appointed. We have maintained this policy and it has endured the test of time. In a professional manner we conduct our business behind closed doors, we don’t seek public acclaim for everything we do. Critics are in no position to judge what they cannot see.”

And finally we get to why this interview was put out; Dermot Desmond is unhappy with idea of a Celtic fan takeover

So there you have it. The reason Desmond actually wanted to take part in the interview. Not because he’s wanting to provide us with an update on the managerial search or any real progress for the club. But because he wanted to attack the notion of a fan takeover.

He states that we’re in no position to judge what we cannot see. Celtic, as a football club, will always be judged on results on the park. Not on the balance sheets. And what critics are seeing is Celtic 20 points behind Rangers in our most important season since 97/98.

We’re seeing several years of downsizing coming back to haunt us. A complacency that swept through the boardroom post-Rodgers that has led to a heartbreaking stagnation of the club.

Key Celtic figures Dermot Desmond and Peter Lawwell / (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

It’s not just Brian Dempsey that is such a strong supporters of fan ownership. Desmond seems to forget that as he attacks the idea. The truth is this all feels so condescending from the majority shareholder. He doesn’t actually explain what it is all these great boardroom figures have done that merits such adulation.

Supporters don’t care about what’s going on in the background. They care about what’s going on when their team goes out onto the pitch. They care about how much investment the board put into their managerial team. To then back that up by simply ignoring fans for such a substantial period this year was just adding insult to injury.

If Desmond thinks today’s interview will help silence calls for fan-ownership, he may want a re-think.

In other news, here’s what Dermot Desmond today about Dominic McKay.