Dermot Desmond's Plans for Celtic?

Published on Saturday 31st May, 2003 by Celtic Trust

May 2003 Newsletter

Dermot Desmond now holds just under the 30% level of Celtic Plcs ordinary shares above which he would have to make an offer for all the other shares in the company. It is clear that he is now the real power at Celtic Plc. At the same time the share price of the ordinary shares has collapsed to near historic lows at 31.5p (7th May), well below the 1994 flotation price of 55p.While few of us bought the shares seeking capital gain, nevertheless the poor performance of the shares is worrying as it is no more than a proxy for the stock markets pessimistic view of Celtics financial health. The half-year results for the period up to the 31st December 2002 were full of danger signs with a loss again being made and borrowings rising. The fantastic success on the field in the UEFA Cup by Martin ONeill and the players has literally been a `get out of financial gaol card for Celtic. The financial spin-offs will certainly give Celtic some room for manoeuvre over the close season. But the fundamental challenges remain. How can Celtic consistently compete in Europe whilst plying its domestic trade in one of the smallest TV markets in Europe? Regardless of where you stand on the `Should we stay or should we go? question of whether Celtic should decamp to the Premier League (assuming this is still a realistic possibility although Bayern Munich are currently threatening to go to Serie A in Italy) what is clear is that what Celtic needs is some clear strategic leadership at the top. In this regard the various rumours circulating in the press about the rationale behind Dermot Desmonds decision to take a 1% stake in Manchester United - where his business partners JP MacManus and John Magnier own a significant holding through their Cubic Expression vehicle should be a concern. Celtic needs shareholders who are emotionally as well as financially committed to the club and want to see the best for it. You cannot have two mistresses. But doubts remain about Dermots ultimate intentions. As anticipation and excitement for the contest with Porto rises it would be easy to forget that Celtic are currently without a Chief Executive, and have a football manager who, it has just come to light, has yet to sign the contract agreed in January. The club needs stability and commitment at the highest level if it is to build on the current success. It is important that its major shareholders recognise that responsibility.


Departure of Ian McLeod

Ian McLeod left his position as Chief Executive of Celtic at the end of his contract on the 30th April. Ian had been in position for two years and followed on from the tenure of Alan McDonald, the latter now widely acknowledged to have done a very poor job. There is no doubt that Ian McLeod has left Celtic as a business in much better shape than he found it; though significant problems remain. And while the cynics might say that everyone should actually be thanking Martin ONeill for lifting the financial fortunes of the club, it is pretty clear that there have been genuine improvements in the way Celtic goes about its business


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