Published on Friday 8th July, 2005 by Celtic Trust
Report on the Celtic Trust meeting re the Glazer bid and the implications for Celtic On a nice sunny Friday night in the close season it is something of an achievement to get a turnout of around 40 people for an open meeting to discuss a potential threat to Celtic. However, it is a measure of the dedication, and the concern, of Celtic fans that this is what happened last Friday evening (1st July) in the Woodside Halls in Glasgow. The meeting was addressed by Sean Bones of the Manchester United Trust who filled us in on the recent events down in Manchester. It has to be said that not many of the people there were primarily concerned about Manchester United but we all felt for Sean and the situation he, and many thousands more, now find themselves. A season-ticket holder of 25 years standing, he has now after about ‘two weeks of sleepless nights’ given up his season ticket in protest at the Glazer takeover and the desecration of all that he holds dear. He intends to turn up at every home game though to campaign to get his club back. Sean argues that when the Glazer deal collapses under the weight of the debt incurred to set it up – with a merchandise boycott to help it on its way – the fans will be in a position to buy back into the club. They already have a scheme in place to prepare for that day and there couldn’t have been anyone in the room who did not wish them all the best in their plans. After a brief talk, Sean was closely questioned by a lively and animated audience who were clearly concerned about the possibility of a similar situation at Parkhead. A number of the questions were of a technical nature and were put in an attempt to try to work out how any club might protect themselves from a similar takeover ie how many shares would a Trust or a group of fans need to own to prevent a takeover. The answer to that question seemed not to be straightforward. Sean, on the basis of the legal and financial advice they had been given, believed that the precise proportion of the shares needed to force a buy out was dependent on the particular circumstances of the club. A number of people were keen to know how the Man U fans were now organising themselves and how they hoped to get their club back. Sean was questioned about the extent of support among fans for a boycott. His response was that they were not calling for a boycott of games but were organising a merchandise boycott instead. A deal is being negotiated now for an alternative range of supporters’ merchandise which, it is hoped, will help to prevent Glazer from increasing merchandising sales by the 78% needed to service the debt he has brought to the Club. The discussion began to centre around the need to bring the various strands of the Celtic family together in a united way. Some criticism was directed at the Celtic Trust for not getting our message across to enough fans. In response to this the Trust members present held up their hands to our failures in communications and outlined the recent steps taken to rectify this problem eg our re-developed website. One member of the audience made a personal commitment to provide some financial backing for the Trust which would certainly help in building us organisationally. Other people pointed out that it is difficult to build an organisation in the context of the past four or five seasons when we have been doing well. The point was also made the case that the Celtic Trust is the ideal legal vehicle for bringing all the fans together given that it is set up in such a way that its operations (including its books and constitution) are overseen by the Registrar of Friendly Societies and is therefore guaranteed to be run democratically and any shares held in common can never be ‘cashed in’ by the membership for their own benefit. Sean suggested that one way of starting to bring people together was to set up a communications network that could be accessed by any individual Celtic fan or organisation and allow for discussion and debate around any relevant issue. Joe Hill, the Trust Chair, had to bring the meeting to a close around 9pm but discussions continued among groups of people for about 30 minutes after that. It certainly gave us plenty to think about, both in terms of the possible dangers and in terms of what we need to do now to make sure it doesn’t happen to us.