Former Celtic Director Brian Dempsey claims Dermot Desmond would listen to fan takeover plans

By Euan Davidson

March 13, 2021

Former Celtic Director Brian Dempsey claims Dermot Desmond wouldn’t stand in the way of a fan takeover.

Dempsey, who was pivotal as Fergus McCann took over Celtic in 1994 [BBC], has made the bold claims in an interview with The Times. Speaking to journalist Ewing Grahame, Dempsey, who made the famous “the rebels have won” speech outside Celtic Park, claimed that fan ownership was in the club’s future.

With Celtic Shared and the Celtic Trust gaining popularity around Parkhead, fan discontent is rife. Supporters are considering the benefits of season tickets in 21-22. With all the drama surrounding the club on and off the pitch, fans have been left short-changed. The board have faced plentiful criticism.

Dempsey gave an altogether kinder view of Dermot Desmond than supporters have this season. He claimed the Irish billionaire wouldn’t reject a fan takeover bid out of hand.

The former Director said [The Times]:

“I don’t believe there’s any question that Dermot Desmond, assuming he got the right money for his shares, is a man who would stand in the way of Celtic’s expansion.

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“So it’s down to the supporters to come together again, sit down at the table with Dermot, produce their plans and offer to buy him and the others out, making Celtic a people’s club again.

“They could then restart for the generations to come with a ten-year plan for growth as a footballing institution and a social institution.

“It’s another uphill journey but it can be done because once you galvanise public opinion and the Celtic community then I believe that anything is possible.”

Celtic fans protest at Celtic Park / (Photo by Craig Williamson/SNS Group via Getty Images)

“A People’s Club Again”; Dempsey offering alternative Celtic vision, Dermot Desmond receptive?

Given his history with the club, it’s no surprise Dempsey is keen on fan mobilisation.

Speaking to film-maker Jamie Doran, it was clear that there’s a disillusionment with Celtic post-Fergus McCann. The club had been perceived as at least partially fan-owned. That eroded over time, and now the Bhoys are effectively run by a small number of individuals.

Speaking exclusively to 67 Hail Hail last month, Doran said:

“[In 1994] we had the feeling that the club was going to be effectively owned by the fans at last. That all disappeared.

“I don’t know what percentage of Celtic is actually owned by fans. I’m a shareholder in Celtic, I was one of those fans back then in Fergus’ time to buy the shares. We know that many thousands of others did.”

To see Dempsey return to the commentariat, then, is an interesting display of timing. Certainly a representative of Celtic supporters in the early 90s, his reemergence as a voice in the Celtic power debate is very noteworthy. There are echoes in Celts for Change in what the Celtic Trust are attempting in the modern era.

Certainly, in our view, it would be fantastic to see the club returned to is roots. As a social and footballing enterprise, the club is built on working class foundations. To have fans more involved in ownership would undoubtedly improve communication.

Raising funds to engage in talks will, as Dempsey insists, be an uphill struggle.

However, we’ve seen Celtic fans wrestle the club back from a powerful dynasty before.

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