"Unhelpful, unprofessional"; Celtic Trust take aim at PLC, share correspondence

By Euan Davidson

June 29, 2021

The Celtic Trust have shared their correspondences with the club’s PLC, after a public row over season ticket value.

After the Celtic board rejected a shares for season tickets proposal, the Trust membership talked about a lack of respect shown by the Club. On podcasts, such as Celtic Fanzine TV, Trust members David Low and Jeanette Findlay robustly condemned the breakdown of the relationship between themselves and the club.

The Trust then decided to cease engagement with the Club. In a tweet dated from the 28th of May, the Trust announced:

“The Celtic Trust no longer consider a relationship to be in place between The Trust and Board. It is clear that the PLC Board and Execs are unfit for purpose. We will not engage with them whilst The Trust, it’s members and the wider support are treated with such contempt.”

Now, a month on, the details of the relationship breakdown have emerged in more detail. Clearly slighted, Celtic have corresponded with the Trust, claiming that the pressure group had mischaracterised some of their interactions. They argue that the Trust are still a valued part of the club/supporter relationship.

In an email from the 21st of June, the PLC stated [Celtic Trust]:

“…the Board took all of the views into account when considering what further additional value could be offered at this time and made a decision that the Board considers to be in the best interests of the Club.  That is not to treat the Trust with contempt.  The Club has not at any time treated the Trust or its members with contempt.”

Email exchange shows stark contrast in perception of Celtic/Celtic Trust relations

The email continues:

“The Club carefully considered the Trust’s proposal, which proposed that the Club offer “a new share issue in the region of £25.5 million”, and took expert advice on that proposal.  In light of that advice on the process, including the substantial cost and management time that would be required, the Club responded to the Trust setting out the reasons why the Trust proposal was not one which was being considered as a means of providing additional value to season ticket holders for season 2020/21.

“We all have the best interests of the Club at heart.  The Club is committed to engagement with supporters and shareholders.  The Club remains committed to doing so going forward and to seeking to improve that engagement.  For example, we are looking to further develop the Fans Forum.

“We believe that engagement needs to be fair and respectful.  As explained above, the Club does not consider that the manner in which certain officers of the Trust have portrayed the Club’s position in relation to the Trust’s proposal has been fair or respectful.”

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

Celtic Trust respond

The Celtic Trust, of course, responded in kind.

In both a Twitter thread and email correspondence, the Trust were simply not having this version of events. The organisation responded, saying [Celtic Trust]:

“Notwithstanding the fact that it was clearly the formal proposal to which we were seeking a response and not the outline one, any lack of clarity could have been resolved with a phonecall or an email, or a meeting, but the club, in an unhelpful and, frankly, unprofessional, way, refused to speak to us.

“I can point to numerous instances of the PLC Board and its officers making negative statements about the Celtic support, supporters’ organisations and individual Celtic supporters (such as myself) in the public domain. 

“The fact that we have felt forced to do the same should make the Board reflect on its conduct and on the strength of feeling among the support about their performance to date and, especially, since December.  

“Repairing relationships are never a one-way street and we will continue to act in what we consider to be the best interests of our football club, but we make no apology for challenging, even in robust terms, the conduct of its current custodians.”

Dermot Desmond and Peter Lawwell / (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

What now?

Clearly, the Club have a lot to work on to repair this relationship. That is, indeed, if it’s their prerogative. One of the claims made by Findlay on Celtic Fanzine TV was that numerous suggestions for improving the match day atmosphere and reputation of the club have been theirs. For example, safe standing, removing advertising from children’s kits. Those things matter.

However, Findlay also claimed that these proposals were rejected, dressed up and then approved. So it seems that the Trust have deep lying frustrations with the Club that cannot easily be soothed.

At a time when fan engagement, including fan media, are under the spotlight, examining the supporter/club relationship is going to take substantial time. And work. But that’s if the work wants to be done. It may be the case that for both parties, there’s no going back.

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