Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Celtic Schisms


Celtic FC has a history and a network like no other.

The Irish Republican politics, the ground-breaking Lisbon Lions, the intense support (ask Messi or Maldini), the global fanbase, the web of talented individuals who have given and still freely give their time, money and expertise to advance the club strategically...
... or, in the case of John Keane, to save the club from financial oblivion.

All of the great global football teams have this linkage with history and political purpose and a sense of community.

But the impact of the current fallout between the Celtic financial hierarchy and the real owners of the club, the fans, is a major dysfunction that must be solved immediately before it creates yet more harm for the club.

                        Unfortunately, in postmodern football, history and politics are problems

For five days in September, I had the very best job in the world - a high level consultancy with Celtic to enable passage to the 2nd Phase of the Champions League this season.

Unfortunately Peter Lawwell, in his own heroic way, pulled on the deal.

The holistic of the consultancy was to protect Celtic against corruptions that occur to undermine the strategies of the club in the Champions League.
The irony of the failure to conclude the agreement is obvious.
We are a cellular grouping of forensic analysts revealing corruptions and Celtic are a football team owned by a bookmaker, Dermot Desmond (Betdaq supremo).

We have been informed that it was deemed too risky to proceed with the consultancy in case we came across internal issues in our monitoring of the external.

As a result, the club strategy for this year's Champions League Group Stage was diabolical in the early stages (http://footballisfixed.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/one-love-art-of-war.html).

And it did not improve thereafter.
The same strategic errors were repeated as last season with some new ones thrown in for good measure. No lessons have been learnt and the structure is simply one of the blind paying one another to lead one another blindly.

Nobody within the club hierarchy nor any of the agents leeching onto the club have any perception of UEFA hidden agendas and internal power-plays and linkages etc etc.
The club do not possess the template to even start planning any strategy for Champions League and future European Super League success.

As we are no longer willing to work with the club under the current regime, we are limited as to the solutions that we are able to offer in this place.
But we have found four areas worthy of discussion without impinging on any of our isolationist thresholds.

1. Club Interests Versus Private Agendas

We originally approached Celtic when we were informed via a contact within UEFA that the European governing body were going to be taking a very close look at the Champions League Qualifier between Cliftonville and Celtic in case any politics were seen in the UEFA sphere.

The UEFA Champions League, by and large, is a marketing process.
It is not feasible for Celtic to celebrate their past as this does not fit in with the UEFA brand - pony-tailed ball skills with a pirouette are preferred to anything approaching political reality.

Part of my discussions with Lawwell centred on this very point - he understands totally that the fans are the biggest asset of the club but wishes to cleanse them of their history to optimise European performance and cashflow.

One could call this a strategy (even if one views it as an inappropriate one)...
... but the club then sell short of achieving that 'optimisation' by focus on their own private agendas and connections.
When it comes to push versus shove, club versus self, enlightened self-interest wins the day.

If the club hierarchy are going to sell out on the fans, the history, the raison d'etre and grasp a share of this UEFA nirvana for the Celtic Brand, then surely they need to focus on the success of this brand absolutely rather than allowing their own private considerations to come into play.

At the moment, this is not happening.

2. Politics

Bobby Sands MP, representing the Anti H-Block party, was elected as a member of the British parliament in 1981.

30,493 people voted for him in the Fermanagh and South Tyrone constituency.
There was an 86.9% turnout.
Sands had a public mandate to fight against inappropriate state power and terror...
... exactly the same as Nelson Mandela who was eulogised by UEFA after his death.

When the club were being punished by UEFA for displaying political imagery, why didn't the hierarchy point out the equivalence between the politics and strategies of Sands/IRA when compared with Mandela/ANC?

After all, Cameron wanted Mandela to hang, Thatcher thought him a terrorist and the US agreed by keeping him on their list of global terrorists until 2008 before he was whitewashed into someone else.

Instead the club have allowed their club brand to be demoted in the UEFA marketing pyramid without offering a stout defence.

3. Club Ownership

As we have pointed out before (http://footballisfixed.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/how-to-solve-match-fixing-once-and-for.html) there are potentially issues of integrity when bookmakers own football clubs.

We have NO evidence of inappropriate fixing of Celtic matches due to Desmond/Betdaq link but this is a structure that should generally be regarded as one being primed for shenanigans.

And we are always wary of bookmakers that, like Betdaq, do not allow winning accounts as, after all, if you are not allowed to win off a bookmaker then the business interaction is something else entirely!

There must be occasions when Desmond's personal financial focus is different to that of the club...
... and this must be a concern.

When board members and club agents are known to bet on Celtic matches, is it invalid to express concern that people higher up the hierarchy might conceivably share a similar inclination?

And, as a background, there is something vaguely distasteful about Desmond being £2 million in pocket, Lawwell annually heating his driveway with £700K while the club refuses to pay a Living Wage at the bottom of the pyramid.

4. A Way Forward

The atmosphere at the recent Hearts match was truly depressing.
Things need to change.
And fast.

From our position, we might suggest a discussion based around very basic foundational areas:

Who owns the club? The financial hierarchy or the fans? How might co-ownership be achieved?  What happens when the needs of the club differ from those paid to manage it?

Decisions made in the imminent future will determine the future of Celtic for decades to come.

Time to get strategic. 

For Celtic to be self-harming in this window of massive monopolistic competitive opportunity in Scotland is a crying shame.
To waste all this energy turning inwards rather than planning for a brighter future in the European Super League is only helping one team, Sevconians.

And Lawwell was wrong on this too...
... Sevconians are not an imitation of a reality in the sense of Rory Bremner doing Tony Blair, because the real Tony Blair (unfortunately) still exists while the comedian performs his parallel.

Sevconians are actually a posthumous tribute act - just like a Michael Jackson one or an Elvis one...
... only with weaker songs.

Rangers no longer exist and Sevconians merely allow a little nostalgia and reminiscence for those who still care.

Rangers are the past. Not the future. 
Just mock them.

Hail Hail Hogmanay!

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