Court battle Kenny Butler v Celtic Plc

Published on Wednesday 11th February, 2004 by Celtic Trust

A life-long Celtic fan has taken the club to court over claims its money men are short-changing small investors. Construction manager Kenny Butler is suing Celtic's plc board for breach of contract, claiming directors have 'eroded privileges' promised to investors who put in £5000 during the mid-1990s. He claims four meetings a year with Celtic's playing staff have been axed, promised golf outings with players and management have never materialised, and the price of bringing two friends to a game once a year has increased from £40 to £100. The David versus Goliath battle could lead to dozens more claims from investors angry about some of the board's decisions. Mr Butler claims in the nine years since he became a member of the executive investor club he has seen several privileges removed. The 46-year-old, from Cambuslang, was restricted to taking his case to a small claims court because he feared he would have had to pay Celtic's legal bills if he had lost. He said he was offered a £200 out-of-court settlement by the club's legal representatives with a condition he did not go public about the case, but refused. At Glasgow Sheriff Court, Mr Butler argued the privileges that had been removed had never been replaced, that he had first raised the matter with Celtic in 1999 and that other investors were also angry, but only he was prepared to take action. Celtic's legal representative, Gavin Davis, of Glasgow firm McGrigor Donald, said the club, as a commercial operation, had the right to change the terms of the share privileges and Mr Butler should have claimed before now. Mr Butler said his gripe was more about the club's handling of small investors rather than the cash. He said: 'When they offered me a cash settlement I told the lawyer I would be happy to accept a shirt every year because this is not about money. 'It is the manoeuvrings of the board and the belief it can change things without consulting small shareholders that gets me. 'This has been a very difficult decision because I have been a Celtic fan all my life. 'But it's the club I support, not the plc board. Perhaps someone needs to take a stand.' At Celtic's last AGM hundreds of small shareholders banded together under the umbrella of the Celtic Trust to lobby for a place on the board, only to be out-voted by the club's top brass. Jim Divers, Celtic Trust spokesman, said: 'We support those, including Kenny, who feel their privileges have been eroded. 'It will be interesting to see the verdict, but it is a shame investors like Kenny, who put in thousands of pounds, have to go as far as court to get this sorted.' But Celtic sources do not believe Mr Butler's case has set a precedent for other investors to seek damages. A Celtic spokesman said: 'We set out our position very clearly in the court and await the sheriff's decision.' Sheriff William Holligan will give his decision later in writing.


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