Where is Celtic chairman Ian Bankier?
Celtic supporters have had to put up with a lot this season.
It isn’t just bad results. They happen in football, it’s the nature of the sport. No, it’s the complete disrespect the Celtic board have shown to supporters.
The fans have clamoured for a change of manager. The board have called us entitled. When there’s protest, the board act shocked. In a year where season ticket holders have been promised “added value”, they’ve been rewarded with a stream that doesn’t always work.
Those who can’t afford season tickets? Well, unless Sky are covering matches, tough luck. Away team supporter, or a journalist from a regional newspaper? Nah, sorry, you don’t get to watch matches.
There are myriad issues, and there’ve been plenty of calls for Peter Lawwell to resign. He’s the public face of the club after Neil Lennon.
Our majority shareholder Dermot Desmond is somewhat enigmatic, but he will occasionally speak. Lawwell, as maligned as he is, at least tries to connect with supporters on occasion. Admittedly, it doesn’t go well.
Our chairman, though? I like to think of myself as pretty well-informed, but Davie Provan said it best [The Sun]:
“…where was chairman Ian Bankier, a guy most punters couldn’t pick out in an ID parade?”
The only times Celtic chairman Ian Bankier has really spoken out, have been to either defend his cronies in the board, or to criticise supporters. In 2015, he did both, defending Tory peer and board member Ian Livingston. Livingston, a member of the House of Lords, voted in favour of tax credit cuts [BBC].
A resulting petition to remove the Tory peer from the Celtic board was flatly rejected.
This argument came in the appalling context of the Celtic board refusing to pay employees the Living Wage. Celtic, by the way, were founded to feed the poor in the East End of Glasgow.
He was also named as attending a Burns Supper hosted by former Tory PM Theresa May, prompting cash-for-access allegations [National].
Yet in 2017, Celtic and Bankier himself believed he was the best person to pick up an award dedicated to the supporters [FIFA/YouTube].
Celtic chairman Ian Bankier needs to share responsibility
While yes, suggestions of “Sack the Board” include Bankier, he hasn’t come in for the same amount of specific criticism as Lawwell, Desmond and co.
But Bankier is hiding. He is part of a culture at the club that has torn us from our roots, and his resistance to enact change is proof of complacency or lack of interest.
With season tickets up for renewal in months to come, the board surely need the continued interest of Celtic supporters. Yet, they are doing so little to earn that. Bankier has spoken out this season, but only to defend Peter Lawwell and, broadly speaking, his job too [Herald].
To me, that just isn’t good enough. The hierarchy at the club are gambling on blind faith, and our chairman is remaining silent unless to defend himself and his colleagues. Of course, he has every right to.
But it’s a concern that someone who is meant to be heavily involved in football matters is a person you wouldn’t recognise if you walked past him.
If the board are genuinely concerned about getting supporters back on side, the likes of Bankier need to step up. However, if they aren’t, they’re in for a rude shock when the bean counters are tallying up season ticket sales.