Higgins, 20-21, Howe; Why this year's Celtic AGM matters so much more

By Euan Davidson

November 16, 2021

It’s Celtic AGM time [Celtic FC]. At 11.30am tomorrow, the Celtic board will be fielding questions from shareholders after what can most kindly be described as a rocky year for the club, and a shambles if you’re feeling unkind.

After the last AGM, Neil Lennon left the club, with any chance of retaining our Scottish Premiership title for a 10th consecutive time dashed. The January transfer window was a dismal failure, with Jeremie Frimpong leaving for big money, to be replaced on loan by Jonjoe Kenny. To say he underperformed would be over-selling it.

Out the cups, massively unprepared for any assault on the European stage and sorely hurting, Celtic supporters were understandably angry and upset. The hiring of Ange Postecoglou and Dom McKay seemed to set an ambitious new course, and while McKay left suddenly (we’ll get to that), Big Ange has been a hit so far.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

This year’s AGM would be far worse if it weren’t for that latter point. The Celtic board have seemingly hired a man who just gets it. After the Eddie Howe debacle – something else the board will need to answer for tomorrow – Ange went from being a European obscurity to a fan favourite. His recruitment has been excellent, clearly backed by the board.

Recent form, though, only counts so much. While the board will receive pass marks for hiring a manager with immense integrity and vision, they only did so because of a series of huge, public miscalculations.

Tomorrow, you’d hope, there’ll be answers.

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It’ll be the first time we really hear from Michael Nicholson out loud. The acting CEO has replaced Dom McKay, who was brought in to much fanfare before the summer. When he officially started, the talk was immensely positive. Modernisation. World-class football club. All of that.

Tomorrow, at the Celtic AGM, the board will have to either repeat the talk of McKay and mean it, or roadmap a different vision that can be sold to shareholders and supporters alike. They counted on the support of fans to renew their season tickets; we’re owed an explanation of the long-term vision of the club.

Specifically, they’ll need to express a wish to back Ange Postecoglou. The Greek-Aussie manager has deflected much of the anger towards the board, due in large part to the performances of Celtic on the pitch. If there’s a whiff of hesitancy on that front, shareholders will take notice.

In terms of longer-term targets, the scouting department was taken apart last season. Nick Hammond left, as did Gary Penrice. What’s the story in terms of building an infrastructure for Celtic to find talents again?

Who’s in charge there? Is anyone?

There’ll also likely be questions about whether Ange Postecoglou chose the staff he has, or if they were foisted upon him. Granted, Ange seems happy with what he has.

A protest banner against ACC Bernard Higgins

The biggest potential upset at Celtic AGM

Then, of course, the thorniest issue, and perhaps the most recent.

Celtic shareholders will want a definitive answer to the Bernard Higgins question. Will the despised ACC of Police Scotland be given a role at a club where his staff victimised supporters? If so, how can they possibly justify it?

Fan protests have been colourful and continued. They’ve met criticism from senior police figures, which is exactly the point.

Whether there’s truth in the talk should come out tomorrow. That’ll certainly be one of the back-and-forth conversations that’ll fascinate, and potentially frustrate, tomorrow.

Typically, the Celtic AGM is required viewing. Tomorrow, though, it takes on a whole new importance.

There are several important questions. And at a rare sighting of the Celtic board, the time for accountability and explanation after a tumultuous calendar year has nearly arrived.

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