Celtic Trust board members Jeanette Findlay and David Low featured on the Celtic Fanzine TV Youtube channel this week, and it makes for vital listening.
The Trust lobbied the board to follow through on a promise to honour the value of the 20-21 season ticket. While not wanting to move any money away from the club, it seemed an opportunity to placate some supporters who wanted more of a say. Those who would’ve preferred refunds could still have got them. The Shares for Tickets campaign is explained in more detail here.
Speaking to Andrew Milne, Findlay detailed those talks with the board, and the disappointment that followed.
Findlay said [Celtic Fanzine TV]:
“Last year, at the end of the previous season, we along with the other Celtic supporters’ organisations had a meeting with Celtic to discuss the fact that people hadn’t got the full value of their season book, because obviously they weren’t able to attend games towards the end of the previous season.
“That was all sorted out, in terms of a refund. Although the way the club operated in terms of a refund was pretty poor on their part. But the other conversation was that they would commit, assure us that they would make a pledge to maintain the value of the season book, whatever way it turned out. At that point, nobody knows what way it’s going to turn out in terms of how many games you’re actually going to be able to attend. As it turns out, none.
“It was just a discussion; [they said] “we don’t know what’s going to happen, so we can’t say anything specific, but yes, we will consult with the Celtic supporters organisations, and make some offer”.”
Celtic Trust talks detailed
“Through the season, it becomes clear that we aren’t going to see many games, if any. At that point, we informally suggest to them that one of the ways they could get around meeting the terms of that pledge, while taking account the fact that these are going to be challenging financial times… would be to offer ordinary shares. In lieu of a kind of pay back.”
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After these seemingly positive talks with the club, around February, Findlay claims, the board turned cold on any suggestion of dispensing shares. Eventually, the correspondence from Celtic became rather pointed, as Findlay suggests:
“They specifically in writing said “we don’t want to talk to you about this, we see no point in talking to you about this”.
“They didn’t even talk about what the proposal would look like, fleshed out and all that. The next day, they put out their season book renewal notice. Initially in the tabloid press, before it even goes into the website, and emails. And they offer people a £50 voucher for the store.
“The utter disrespect that Celtic Trust, our members and the wider support were treated by Celtic is just beyond believing. Complete lack of respect to even engage with us, talk to us… to put out this pathetic offer with an end-date [in September], it was just no good.”
“It is an aggression”
The Trust feel that the contempt for supporters, and specifically supporters organisations, has been ongoing. Findlay claimed that previous initiatives, most notably safe standing, were dealt with in a strange manner by the Celtic hierarchy.
“It’s not new, in the sense that the Trust has almost always been treated like this at certain points in time. For instance, it’s almost a running joke that when we put something to the board, at the AGM, they combine forces to defeat it. And then quite often introduce it.
“Which is fine with us. But that’s what they do. And it’s almost like saying “we’re not going to do what you’re asking us to do, we’re in charge here, and you’re nothing”. That’s sort of what it feels like. So in that sense, it is an aggression.”
Citing the safe standing argument, Findlay claims that the board continually take credit for supporters’ groups initiatives, after rejecting the same ideas in AGMs.
It all points to an alarming disconnect between organised supporters’ groups and fans. Even those with no interest in the politics of the PLC could surely be worried by the attitude of the board, going by Findlay and Low’s words.
You can hear the full interview here, on Celtic Fanzine TV.