The Chelsea boardroom development Celtic fans should take major interest in

By Euan Davidson

May 4, 2021

Odd as it is to say, Celtic could maybe learn a lesson from Chelsea.

This afternoon, the London-based club announced that they would appoint 3 ‘supporter advisers’, who would be elected by the fans. Their role would be in consulting the board, and making sure supporters are heard in major decisions that the club makes going forward.

A club statement read [Chelsea FC]:

“Three supporter advisors, picked through an election and selection process, will attend board meetings to ensure general supporter sentiment is considered as part of the Club’s decision-making process.

“The Club will now consult with the Fans’ Forum and several non-official supporter groups to discuss the Club’s proposed process for picking the three supporter advisors.”

The statement did add, however:

“The supporter advisors will not have any voting rights and will not participate in any meetings relating to players, staff, the Academy and related matters.”

Chelsea fans: not best pleased / (Photo by David Cliff/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Will other clubs, including Celtic, follow Chelsea example?

Given the much-documented breakdown in communication between the Celtic board and the supporters, this would be a bold move. Given that Chelsea are run by an oligarch with almost limitless funds, they’re making an interesting decision here. The presence of not 1, but 3 of these elected ‘supporter advisers’ imply that it’s not a token gesture.

Obviously, this follows fan revolt over the Super League [Guardian]. The Premier League’s big 6, it’s fair to say, did not have their finger on the pulse regarding fan feeling. Perhaps, continued success, or being success adjacent (in Spurs’ case) clouded the judgement of these boards.

This is a good, meaningful way to involve supporters in the running of the club, albeit with caveats. You’d surely hope that despite not being involved in team or academy matters, these advisers will have a say. If it’s just on what food they’re serving at Stamford Bridge, then it’s pointless.

If Celtic were to do this, there’d be obvious difficulties. The support are so wildly contrasting on a number of issues, and that makes building consensus a pretty sizeable task. Also, we’d surely be looking for supporters to have an input on the things like manager selection and electing board members.

Football is a copycat sport. Look at tactics, for example: after Spain shook the world up with tiki-taka, possession became the name of the game. Then the Gegenpress took hold. A back 3 used to be incredibly unfashionable, now it’s en vogue. It follows, then, that this is the kind of move that other clubs will adopt this kind of model.

Is it the kind of thing Celtic will look to make official? We’ll have to wait and see.

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