Exclusive: Celtic Shared answer our questions after mixed response to Joint Fan Organisation Statement
Celtic Shared maintain that the protest plans announced yesterday are necessary, but were never expected to be “popular”.
Yesterday, the fan group [Celtic Shared Twitter] were joined by the Green Brigade, Bhoys, Celtic Trust and North Curve in a statement written to fans and the board. The statement outlined plans for a protest on the 17th of July, and a “January review”, akin to what the Celtic board had promised regarding the tenure of Neil Lennon.
There are also plans to boycott merchandise until January. The joint statement identified three key focus areas: the club would have to back Ange Postecoglou. Communication would need vast improvement. Finally, the statement asked Celtic to provide the “structural change” that has been mooted by new CEO Dom McKay.
So far, the reaction hasn’t been great. The supporters’ groups, judging by social media and message boards, have been largely accused of puncturing the renewed optimism around Celtic Park.
While there is still considerable discontent with the board in some quarters, the hiring of Ange Postecoglou has eased a lot of the general disquiet. Rather than fuming with the club, a majority of Celtic supporters seem excited for the immediate future.
Important questions have to be asked. A representative from Celtic Shared was happy to respond to ours this morning.
Celtic Shared on the “January Review”, and protest plans
67HH: What would constitute a successful “January review”, to Celtic Shared? What tangible targets would need to be reached to impress?
“As set out in the joint statement, we’re looking at 3 key areas of focus where we believe they failed last season and arguably seasons before.
- How they treat and communicate with the supporters. The noises so far from McKay on this have been encouraging. However, it was only a matter of weeks ago that the supporters were badly let down with season ticket value. We have all since renewed in our thousands out of love for the club. It’s time Celtic engaged with these supporters in a meaningful way and stopped treating them shoddily. We’d like to see positive communication with fans, proper dialogue and a greater say on the issues that matter to the supporters.
- How they back Ange in his rebuild. Will he be given the finances? [Can he] bring in the players he wants? Will he get the decision on what players leave?
- How they press ahead with the restructure of the club. Celtic are miles behind elite clubs in how they operate. A couple of months ago, we were all expecting a Director of Football overseeing the sporting operation, with Eddie Howe and his backroom team on the ground. Instead, we have the same tired old structure and same coaching and recruitment staff. Indeed, we have lost our head of recruitment and head of sports science. McKay has said he is looking to modernise and be world class – let’s see this plan in action.”
So far, the reaction online has been mixed; how has the feedback been on your plans so far from your perspective?
“We were under no illusions on this; it was never going to be popular. Fans are grasping at any sort of positivity at the moment, and that’s understandable given the last 12 months. The fevered reaction to a press conference and a training clip highlights that. We’re very much on board with Ange and will support him fully, and want nothing more than for him to bring success back to Celtic. However, we want to make it clear to the board that a repeat of last season will not be tolerated again and the fan groups are mobilised and ready to escalate action if need be. Clearly, that’s not what anyone wants and we hope that this is indeed the bright new dawn people are hoping for.”
On Dom McKay, promises and plans
Has there been any response from the club so far? Has Dom McKay reached out yet?
“Nothing as yet from club. The main fan organisations met with McKay and Lawwell a few weeks into his tenure on the season ticket/value agenda. But generally Lawwell did most of the talking and McKay largely observed.”
What did you take from Dom McKay’s press conferences, and how he’s been at the club so far?
“He’s clearly very polished and articulate, and presents himself well publicly in a way almost reminiscent of a politician. We are disappointed that he took so long to address the support after his arrival, but understand he possibly wanted to distance himself a bit from the shambles that was season 2020/21.
He has struck the right notes and said some interesting things but for now it’s just noise. As it stands, we are 17 days away from a make or break qualifier and we have no major signings of note, the team is littered with deadwood, we have no Director of Football, Head of Recruitment and no new sign of any new structure in the pipeline. Celtic fans want action, not words.”
Although there’s cautious support for Ange Postecoglou in the statement, is there a worry that protests could unsettle him and/or the players?
“I’d argue it’s not ‘cautious’. We have asked fans to join us on the Celtic Way to welcome Ange as he heads into Celtic Park for his first home match. We unfortunately can’t be inside so this is an opportunity to do our bit outside the stadium.
“Some of the groups who have signed this statement have traditionally been those providing the most vocal and visual support to the team and this will not change. We are fully behind Ange and are unwavering in our backing of him and the team. The statement and subsequent planned actions are in no way reflective of him.”
Candid stuff from Celtic Shared
What’s frustrating to read these days, speaking personally, is when people say that certain groups and individuals speak for the entire Celtic support.
Nobody claims to, not in broad strokes. And, if anything, it’s actually pretty admirable that Celtic Shared admit these protest plans weren’t going to go down well, universally. They’ll have known that, across the organisations, there was going to be significant backlash to this.
Yet, they’re right; a lot of these supporters provide the most fervent backing to the team. You can argue about the merits of the Green Brigade all day, if you like. But themselves, Bhoys and others bring a lot of the colour and noise to Celtic Park. I’ve been to games with them, and games when they’ve been barred. To me, the difference is self-evident.
How these protests manifest, and the response to the response, will be the next interesting part.