In-person Celtic AGM votes rendered pointless as board backs their men

By Euan Davidson

November 18, 2021

At a tempestuous, intriguing Celtic AGM yesterday, Celtic shareholders in attendance made their feelings clear about a range of issues.

From Bernard Higgins to the Scottish Government, referees to Rangers, losing the 10 to backing Ange. So much was covered. Of course, there were the usual formalities; re-electing board members and the chairman.

Except, everything emerging from the AGM indicated that shareholders had enough. That the board might actually listen, especially with Brian Wilson and Ian Bankier losing in-person votes to remain in place in the Celtic hierarchy.

Photo by Jan Kruger – UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images

Turns out, the board don’t actually give a toss. Resoundingly, Wilson, Bankier at al were allowed to overwhelmingly remain in their positions. That’s largely due to absentee votes from majority shareholders; primarily Dermot Desmond.

As another insult, Resolutions 11 and 12 resoundingly failed to pass, despite popular support at the Celtic AGM.

Via The Cynic, here’s how those votes ended:

Yesterday did seem encouraging for a number of reasons. For one, the Celtic support seem far more united on particular issues. There’s a commonality, a shared purpose, and groups like Celtic Shared and the Celtic Trust are doing fine work encouraging their members to vote at AGMs.

However, now it should be crystal clear what opponents of the board are up against.

Those with the real power have about 79m more votes than any normal shareholder at the club. That’s an almost unbelievable power imbalance, and it shows the challenge that proponents of fan ownership have.

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“Bankier was rattled” | Celtic 2021 AGM Reaction

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“Bankier was rattled” | Celtic 2021 AGM Reaction
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Why even bother with a Celtic AGM if these are the outcomes?

Posing as a democracy just isn’t going to cut it. Either have votes or don’t. There’s zero point wasting anyone’s time by suggesting things could change if they take part, then stonewalling any serious vote about an issue at the Celtic AGM.

It’s a far cry from the days of Fergus McCann. The idea of having even one ordinary supporter of the club seems like a pipe dream at this point. Let alone a sizeable fan influence.

Yes, being cynical or pessimistic probably doesn’t help things. But when you see the chasm in power and influence in black and white, it’s hard not to feel disillusioned. Fine, yes; the majority shareholders pump their money into the club and their influence and voting rights are based on that. It’s nothing new, nothing shocking.

Photo by BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images

Still, there’s very clear opposition to the likes of Ian Bankier and Brian Wilson. Equally, supporters wants answers on Resolution 12 (or 11, as it was yesterday). Supporters want accountability and better communication. Those aren’t exactly herculean tasks from a club’s board. It’s really not asking for a great deal.

Chelsea, for example, are owned by a billionaire oligarch. Even they have fan representation on their board.

There is so, so much more to do for Celtic fans who want a real influence over their club. That was already obvious; now it’s absolutely inarguable.

Let the people sing the stories and the songs. But actually affect change at the club they love? Nah, don’t bother.

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