"Something not quite right about that"; Stephen McGowan's damning Celtic verdict on Dermot Desmond
Scottish Daily Mail journalist and columnist Stephen McGowan has delivered a rather damning verdict of the hierarchy at Celtic today, writing in his paper. [20/11 print edition, page 119]
The Celtic board is again under scrutiny after a fairly dramatic AGM earlier this week. The supporters and shareholders in attendance were displeased with what they heard from prominent figures such as Ian Bankier, who at one point was booed loudly in the room.
Dermot Desmond is the club’s prominent shareholder but, as has become the norm, wasn’t even in attendance for the meeting. His son, Ross Desmond, was in attendance on his behalf.
But that hasn’t stopped the glare of the media and commentators criticising the Irish businessman.
McGowan is well respected by the Celtic fanbase and regularly delivers original reporting on the goings-on within the club.
His words hold a bit of weight and today he couldn’t be more critical of Desmond, writing: “His vast wealth bought him 30 per cent of the shares in Celtic in return for 100 per cent of the say. And there’s something not quite right about that. The latest AGM at Parkhead provided yet more evidence of a disconnect between the men who run Celtic and the rank-and-file shareholders who support them.
“Before Desmond pitched up with Fergus McCann, the club was run by a cartel of private-ruling families. The Kellys, the Whites and the Grants passed their shares down from generation to generation. And their Marie Antoinette approach to customer relations eventually took the club to the brink of liquidation. Or demotion, as director Brian Wilson might put it. That won’t happen with Desmond at the helm — and that’s no bad thing.
“But when McCann took the club public in 1999, he did so to avoid the exact scenario that Celtic find themselves in right now. One major shareholder is running the club as if he’s the only show in town, and a board perceived to be a posse of white, middle-aged men in grey suits are tagged with guilt by association.”
They are thoughts that will resonate with many Celtic supporters who are looking for a bit of modernisation and communication on the club’s future plans.
There was a real lack of that at the AGM – only brief mention of a couple of staff additions at Lennoxtown to support Ange Postecoglou.
Questions and answers of this nature shouldn’t be left to the manager either. The Celtic board should be front and centre delivering their vision for the much-heralded five-year plan that is supposed to be their remit.
With Desmond at the helm calling the shots, regardless of what the fans think, it’s hard to see substantial change coming at Celtic anytime soon without a significant effort from the support.