Exclusive: "Winds of change are coming''; Celtic Shared respond to 2021 AGM
Celtic Shared would probably have enjoyed much of today’s AGM at Celtic Park.
As righteous agitators for change, the AGM might’ve been something of a nauseating experience. More often than not, board members are re-elected without much fuss. The board don’t have crucial questions to answer. In recent years, it’s been an exercise in back-slapping.
Not the case today. Although Ian Bankier might be safe in his role as Celtic chairman, it won’t be because of the people in the room. Alongside Michael Nicholson, Bankier was unsettled by the sheer ferocity of opposition towards the board.
Now, that’s new. Yes, there have been multiple protests against the board. But shareholders getting agitated?
Celtic Shared, who attended the AGM, spoke to 67 Hail Hail, and reflected upon today’s events. It seems the influence of supporters’ groups has risen tenfold over the last year.
Martin of Celtic Shared told 67 Hail Hail:
“For me, Celtic supporters, since the Celts for Change thing and growing up, we had a number of powerful groups. But for a lot of time, up until the FAC campaign, we probably could’ve been more united.
“Actually, what the FAC campaign showed was the power of the Celtic support when we are united.
“I’m starting to sense that coming back. We’ve saw the likes of the Green Brigade, Bhoys, Celtic Shared and the Celtic Trust join together. It’s been said many times that a united Celtic support is a formidable opposition. And you can feel the winds of change are coming. I think [the board] are very aware of that.”
Celtic Shared: Bankier was “rattled” and discontent has become mainstream
Most of the response today will be about Ian Bankier. Although he started proceedings in a jovial mood, that quickly changed.
Throughout, the atmosphere was not in Bankier’s favour. Whether his position is tenable regardless of Desmond’s backing will be a subject of much debate.
The board in general, though, must surely now realise the depth of discontent. Momentum is with those who oppose the board, not those who run it.
“I don’t think that I was even prepared – that AGM is kind of their safe place, if you like. It’s generally where people tend to back them. I was surprised at the level of opposition to them.
“In that sense, given we’re a group that’s there to challenge them and fight for change, that was quite refreshing to see that people are actually sick of the old, tired regime. That was shown when the votes came, particularly for Ian Bankier and for Brian Wilson.
“From that perspective and from our perspective, I think it’s finally hitting home with a lot of the Celtic support that the time for change is now – no, the time for change was actually before now!
“I think [Bankier] was absolutely rattled. The show of hands to re-elect him – you very rarely get many dissenting voices. But 90% of the room voted against his re-election. From there he lost composure, he was caught off-guard, I didn’t think he expected that at all.
“It was a car-crash performance from him, to be honest.”
Supporters’ groups like Celtic Shared can be buoyed by dramatic AGM
Fine, there were undoubtedly frustrating moments at the AGM. Most notably the lack of answer about Bernard Higgins, and a lack of fight against the Scottish Government, amongst myriad issues.
But from that, there are crumbs of comfort. The board are clearly on the ropes here. Appetite for change has increased, primarily because last season was mismanagement manifest.
It would be shocking, then, if more fans weren’t interested in joining groups like Celtic Shared or the Celtic Trust.
Today was a win for supporters’ groups, undoubtedly. Clearly, the leadership at the club is under intense scrutiny. “Fringe concerns” have become significant talking points.