Celtic Diary Thursday June 20: Mika Says Goodbye
We’ll miss him, you know. We kind of knew it was coming if you watch his antics after the cup final.
Whether or not his legs have gone is irrelevant. For what it’s worth, his contribution in the two games at the end of a long season to secure two trophies suggest that they haven’t.
His experience would have been vital next season, as would his influence in the dressing room.
Mikael Lustig bid a heartfelt goodbye to Celtic yesterday, and we can only hope it’s not because, as rumours suggest, he was offered a reduced deal to stay. That’s not how you treat players who have given the bulk of their career to a club.
Frankly, if they are not looked after as they approach retirement, no one will stay long enough into their prime to attain the status that Lustig did.
That leaves us with Scott Brown and James Forrest as our senior first teamers.
No disrespect to them at all, but we kind of need a little bit more in the core, so to speak.
Lustig posted his farewell on Instagram..
“It’s time for me and my family to move on,”
“I had no idea how much this club and everything that comes with it would mean to me when I signed 7.5 years ago.
“I wish I would’ve had the chance to get a proper good bye. I just want to say thank you to everyone I’ve had the honour to meet and work with at Celtic, all the players and staff.
“The memories will stay with me forever. Thank you to all of you that made Glasgow feel like home for me and my family for so many years. I will never forget your support. Hopefully I’ll see you all soon. I’ll definitely be back for the 10 in a row party!”
Perhaps his wife Josefin summed it up better than the big lug…
It’s been pretty tough lately. We should move and it came a little like a shock. It has been so much harder and harder than I thought it would be. In this life it can swing fast. But we’ve been in Glasgow for 7.5 years so it feels very tough to have to leave. Didn’t get that long to digest it either. I cried every day for a week after I found out. I feel completely exhausted. It has really taken on the forces.
Glasgow has given me so much. It really has been a trip. We were so young when we moved to Glasgow. I look forward to our new adventure as a little older, with more experience of life. I’m so grateful for everything that Glasgow has given us.
All the best to all of you.
We’ll see you for the ten…
Finding a replacement for Lustig is going to be difficult, and the defence now looks short not only on numbers but on the significant “streetwise ” factor.
If we are to get someone in we need someone who’s been around a bit.
The Martin O’Neill team had several streetwise players in it, such as Larsson, Sutton, Hartson, Lambert Mjallby and Lennon.
We don’t have that at the moment, and the manager should realise that.
The question is, will the board ?
Yesterdays article asking Lawwell to pick sides revolves around his complete failure to tackle the SFA on a number of issues, but perhaps more importantly at this time of year, he really needs to get his finger out and give Lennon what he needs.
Downsizing appears to be the order of the day, and that is not going to get the baby bathed.
Lennon too, needs to forget about watching Netflix and get his arse out the door and do some real work.
Is it just me, or has the cleaner nicked all the papers off his desk again ?
I’ve been fairly confident that the club will invest, even if not quite to the extent of previous expense, but there is a smidgeon of doubt beginning to creep in. Things seem to have hit a problem or two
John Kennedy kind of gave it away when he spoke to the media…
“On the outside, when there is a lot unknown about what is going on, they just want to see the signing,”
“Behind the scenes, there is a lot of planning going on. A lot of discussion, meetings and phone calls.
“There is a bit of action going on behind the scenes but obviously that gets kept private until the very last minute when hopefully things are done. That’s the way you have to do your business.
“At the moment, the problem we have sometimes is that you are speaking to a lot of clubs and representatives and players who are on holiday or don’t really want to do business until they get back in July. But we are pushing on that.
“In the next couple of weeks, we hope we can certainly have a couple of faces. Because we need it. There is no shying away from that. We have lost some bodies and have some gaps in the squad we need to fill. There is a lot of work going on behind the scenes to try and do that.
“It’s happened before, other clubs have done their business earlier than us and we’ve done ours later but that’s just the way it is. You can’t force it and you can’t force things through that aren’t right for you.
“But there’s no need to panic because there’s lots of time left and there is also a lot happening behind the scenes. Work is going on and we certainly hope to have a few fresh faces in in the near future.”
We’re going to make an arse of it, aren’t we ?
Still, we should raise a few quid on ebay for those chairs, it’s not like anyone is using them.
Kennedy continued to dig a great big bloody hole for himself.
“I definitely believe we can attract the calibre of signings we need,”
We couldn’t attract a boy from Motherwell who has played six months at the top level. Granted, that may have been down to the lads greed, or that of his agent, but surely the management know that agents are all like that ?
Otherwise we could be in for a hell of a shock.
More so if Kennedy et al still believe that players will come to Celtic because of the name.
“Everyone knows who Celtic is and we can’t compete with the big money in England, but we can compete with other European clubs. It’s also not just about talent – players coming here need to have the right mindset.
And not be concerned about money, weather or the fact that the governing body allows the opposition to kick lumps out of our players.
“This is a club that needs to be successful and we want to achieve things but there are plenty of players out there who feel the same way. As much as everyone gets tarred with the same brush in terms of finances, we’ve spoken to plenty of players who want to come here but we’ve had to say no because they haven’t been the right fit for us.
“It can be down to age, ability or other reasons but there are numerous players who want to come here for the right reasons. The bigger picture is that – like Virgil van Dijk and Victor Wanyama – players who succeed here will find doors opening to bigger clubs and bigger financial rewards.
“Our experience of this is that we bring in your Kristoffer Ajers and your Ryan Christies plus the boys from our own academies and we mix them in with the others who’ve been here a while or who’ve just been signed and we tend to get the blend right. That helps the players to progress and develop.
“The problem nowadays is that some players want everything given to them before they’ve achieved anything. For us, we have a structure to work to, so we just move on to the next target because we don’t put all of our eggs in the one basket. There are a number of players we’re looking at and, if one isn’t right, we’ll move on to the next one.”
So, unless the player comes rushing down Celtic Way singing the Soldiers Song we’re not going to get him, are we ?
As usual, Keiran Tierney is being linked with a move away. This time Napoli are reportedly interested.
The swap plus cash with Arsenal, involving Carl Jenkinson story won;t go away either, and with Tierney already having had to be convinced to stay last year, there is a worry that this time he’ll go.
Especially if his season long injury worries are playing on his mind…a lucrative contract will ease a few of those fears.
However, all of this is paper talk, and there is nothing from the ranch to suggest there is anything in any of it.
I tend to trust that lot, and can state with confidence when one player was apparently moved south, his response on being asked was
“first I’ve heard of it “
So let’s wait and see, shall we.
There is talk of an experienced midfielder coming in…
When we are worried about how things are at Celtic, it’s important to perhaps remind ourselves of where we’re at.
We have won nine out of nine trophies.
There is money in the bank .
And those disco lights…just wow.
But at times like these it’s important to find someone less fortunate than yourself and have a damn good chuckle.
The clock appears to be ticking towards yet another financial meltdown at Ibrox.
Just seven years since the original club went down the pan, the replacement is having problems staying afloat.
How do we know ?
The media are ignoring the court ruling that means they must pay Mike Ashley a huge sum of money, as yet undetermined, and have even turned on another comapny who are in the middle of suing them for monies owed.
Attack is the best form of defence for the poodles at the Record..
Firm suing Rangers over Ibrox Disaster memorial wall deny intimidating witnesses
English-based firm Memorial Walls has raised a damages claim against Rangers FC.
Intimidating witnesses ? In a civil case ?
Lawyers acting for a firm suing Rangers following a shelved plan for an Ibrox disaster memorial wall and garden denied attempting to intimidate witnesses after a letter was sent to former club captain John Greig.
English-based firm Memorial Walls has raised a damages claim against Rangers FC after it pulled out of the proposed venture.
Gavin MacColl QC, for the firm, told the Court of Session in Edinburgh that it was a breach of contract case but the breach was admitted, with outstanding issues of causation and the level of damages remaining.
Mr MacColl told judge Lord Bannatyne that there will be an amendment brought to reduce the sum sued for in the claim.
Rangers senior counsel Kenny McBrearty QC welcomed the move and said he anticipated it would be cut “presumably to somewhere in the region of just over a million”.
But Mr McBrearty said there was an issue he was asked to raise with the court and told the judge that it could be seen from the defences in the action that an important matter related to the question of “the wider Rangers community” who were consulted.
He said the firm wanted to know who else was consulted and expressed a view about the proposed venture.
Mr McBrearty said the only individual named in the defences was John Greig and solicitors acting for Memorial Walls wrote to him indicating a potential claim for inducing breach of contract.
The senior counsel said it had given rise to “considerable concern” on the part of Rangers.
He said it was difficult to see how Memorial Walls, on the facts known to them, could set out a case against Mr Greig.
Mr McBrearty said on the facts set out in the defences all that was said was that he was consulted after the contract was entered into and nothing was said that he knew or was made aware of the contract or anything of that nature.
The senior counsel said: “It is very difficult to see how a 76-year-old man who was captain of Rangers at the time of the Ibrox disaster and expressed honestly held opinion could be said to be inducing a breach of contract.”
He said the view reached on his side was that it was difficult to see it as “anything other than an attempt to intimidate a witness”.
Mr MacColl said he rejected the suggestion that solicitors instructing him had sought to act in a professionally inappropriate way and that there has been any attempt to intimidate witnesses.
He told the court: “The suggestion that there was an attempt to intimidate witnesses here is simply unfounded.”
He said there was no suggestion of intimidation of a witness or “in any way, shape or form” placing inappropriate pressure.
Lord Bannatyne said he had not seen the precise terms of the letter nor was he asked to do anything at this point, but would have it noted in the minute of proceedings.
The judge said he would allow a period for adjustment of the pleadings and have a procedural hearing fixed in the action.
The planned venture had originally included a memorial wall and garden to honour victims of the Ibrox disaster in which 66 fans during an Old Firm game in 1971.
From that, there is no substance to any claim of intimidation, but there is the sound of a can being kicked down the road in desperation.
Perhaps the lawyers for the ” English firm ” should ask the court what Sheriff Irvine Smith said about culpability for the disaster..
In the meantime, Christopher “Union ” Jack in the Ibrox Evening Times has given space to Club 1872 , the more fleeced than most section of their support, to try to calm the waters…
It’s a long read, but as you read it, count how many times the little voice in your head says ” they’re fucked ”
I got to 41.
WHEN Rangers shareholders have gathered in recent years, headlines and history have often been made. The latest General Meeting on Wednesday morning was a far more straightforward affair, however, as investors approved a resolution that allows soft loans from Dave King and the Three Bears – George Letham, George Taylor and Douglas Park – to be converted into shares.
Here, we speak to Club 1872 director Laura Fawkes about what the move means for Rangers and the fan organisation as King and his fellow financial backers get set to continue funding the next stage of the rebuilding job.
WHAT WAS THE PURPOSE OF THE GENERAL MEETING?
LF: From a Club 1872 point of view, it is like a resetting of the shareholding to some degree. The soft loans have been in for a long period of time and Dave, Douglas Park, George Taylor, George Letham, have put a lot of money in via soft loans.
It was always the idea that they would be converted to shares and there were the issues with the Takeover Panel so it was put on the backburner and the soft loans have sat there probably for longer than they would have expected. It is a difficult one, because although Club 1872 will be diluted, it is almost bringing the whole thing back to where it always really has been.
We have had it in the back of our minds that those soft loans were there and would be converted to shares. We knew those shares would be allocated to those guys and the amount of money they have put in is so large that there was bound to be a level of evening out of the shareholding. It is that finally happening.
The crucial point is that Club 1872 members had the opportunity to decide whether or not they supported that happening. Like every issue, we put it out to the members and how they vote is what we action. It was voted through overwhelmingly by the members.
HOW DO YOU JUSTIFY TO MEMBERS THE FACT THAT YOUR SHAREHOLDING HAS BEEN DILUTED?
LF: I think it is an unavoidable consequence of it and, at the end of the day, the shareholding is reflective of the amount of money that individuals or groups have put into Rangers, it is as simple as that. Dave and the Three Bears have put a massive amount of money in.
Club 1872 put £1million in last year and there are two ways of looking at it. We have had that period where we have been the second largest shareholders and been up around the 10 per cent mark, and that has been great. But to have now completed that process, where they have put all the loans in, to still be the fourth largest shareholder is actually really good because it shows how much of a contribution there has been from the fans.
It is a bit of a double-edged sword. If you had said there was going to be £20million invested in Rangers over a couple of years and, at the end of that process, Club 1872 would be the fourth largest shareholder, then actually that is really good.
We are still above guys like George Letham and Barry Scott, who have contributed a lot. We are still ahead of them in terms of shareholding. That position, while it has changed, is still reflective of the contributions of the membership. We bought a significant amount of shares last year and put £1million into Rangers and there will be opportunities going forward for us to invest more and to change our position.
It is a one member one vote system so each member decides for themselves what their motivation is. The members that we have spoken to have said that they see this is in the interests of the club, that this will make the club largely debt free and that is a position they want to be in. I think that was a motivator for individual members to vote the way they did.
IS THE TARGET TO RAISE THE SHAREHOLDING BACK TO THE 10 PER CENT LEVEL AND GO FURTHER?
LF: We believe we will get a chance to do that in the future and our participation at that point will only be limited by the extent to which supporters get behind the next campaign to raise money. We are sitting at around £400,000 in the bank at the moment and that is for shares and/or projects.
We think we will need significantly more than that to participate in the next share issue. We will have the opportunity and that is something the members are aware of.
IS THERE A TIMEFRAME FOR THE NEXT SHARE ISSUE AND HOW BIG A ROLE CAN YOU PLAY?
LF: I think we would expect it to come fairly soon and it is not a secret that the club are looking to raise more money.
I think it is about trying to make people understand that there is no barrier to Club 1872 having the shareholding that the fans want it to have and there is open participation from Club 1872 in any share issue that comes up. This is a different situation because this is just about the conversion of loans that have already been put in.
In terms of going back out to shareholders and asking for fundraising, it is very likely that any future share issue would be limited again to a certain number of shareholders, it is unlikely that they will go out to all the small shareholders again because of the admin and cost of doing that. If they can raise funds again from the same people that have been putting money in previously, like Club 1872, then there will be opportunity to do that.
The participation at that point is purely based on how much money we have in the bank. If it is £10million, then to stay where we are we would need around £700,000. If it is £20million, to stay where we are we would need £1.4million and it ramps up very quickly.
If Dave King, George Letham, George Taylor, Douglas Park, if these guys are willing to keep putting in the amount of money that they are putting in and we can’t match that or put more in comparatively to our shareholding, then we are going to get diluted again. It is really about how much the fans want to have that voice, that shareholding, and if they do they need to join the organisation and put the money in.
If we want to be an investor like Dave King, then we have to invest. You might not have £1million in your own bank account, but you might have £5 per month that you can give to Club 1872 and, collectively, we can invest huge sums into Rangers.
THERE WILL COME A POINT WHERE THE CURRENT INVESTORS WON’T PUT MONEY IN ANYMORE, SO IT COULD THEN BE UP TO THE FANS.
LF: I don’t think there would be any impediment to Club 1872 being able to take part in share issues, possibly smaller ones, for ongoing investment. There has obviously been this period since the current board where they had to invest very heavily in a period of time to get the club back to where it should be.
Once it is there, once you have European income and commercial income improving, the club should be largely self-sustainable at some point in the next couple of years. At that point, Club 1872 will still be there with money and will be able to edge the shareholding back up, whether that is through share issues or buying shares from other people.
It is actually one of the most efficient ways of getting money into the club. Obviously people want to buy season tickets, they want to buy strips and go for a pint before the game and that is the money they spend around football. In terms of just putting money into Rangers, this is the most efficient way to just help with the rebuilding process. We need to get that message through to people.
COULD CLUB 1872 INVEST ON THE SAME TERMS AS OTHER SHAREHOLDERS OR DOES YOUR INVESTMENT COME THROUGH SHARE ISSUES RATHER THAN SOFT LOANS?
LF: In a loan scenario, it would be up to members to decide whether they wanted to provide a loan with the possibility of that being converted to shares. It may well be that future investment from everybody can be done via share issues rather than the drip-feeding of loans over a period of time.
It may well be that they can say ‘we want to raise £20million in two years’ so they have a share issue and raise £20million and the shares are just allocated out. So the need for the soft loans is mitigated to some degree.
At each AGM, they have to go to shareholders for permission to allocate more shares and the way the shareholding make-up is at the moment and the way Club 1872 members have voted, it would see likely that they would be given that permission on an annual basis. Really, then, it is up to them how much money they want to raise.
WHEN FANS SEE IMPROVEMENT ON THE PARK AND THINGS ARE MORE SETTLED AT BOARDROOM LEVEL, THERE IS NOT A FIGHT TO BE FOUGHT OR CAUSE FOR THEM TO RALLY BEHIND. IS THAT AN ISSUE FOR CLUB 1872?
LF: We are in a position where we can’t let people forget where the club has been. It is an emotional intelligence, if you are not feeling it at that moment it is not real. It was part of our last campaign to remind people where the club had been and that it is important we have an ongoing revenue stream for the club, which people relate to and it inspires them to join. It is also about protecting the club in the future.
We are around the 7,000 members mark and we gain members all the time. But we also lose them. We lose them to credit cards expiring and people not filling in the details again, so it isn’t a conscious decision to stop paying in.
There are a multitude of reasons why people will drop off and people are added. We have been in this position where the take up and the drop off, apart from times around share issues and things like that where you get a big intake of members, the levels have stayed steady.
In many ways, that is good because people are committed to this over a long period of time, they remain committed to it and see the benefit of doing it. It is that spark to get new members to come in that is the difficult part. In a crisis, people will react and will join and do whatever it takes. You saw the growth in the Supporters Trust and RangersFirst at a time when there was a real crisis.
People do feel there is no need to it anymore because Dave King is doing it, Douglas Park is doing it. As things improve, it becomes a more normal situation and people think ‘we don’t have to do this’.
I suppose the challenge is to say ‘how much quicker could the club get back to the top?’ and ‘how much better would it be to have the burden spread amongst a variety of investors?’. One of those investors would be Club 1872. We are still going to be the fourth largest shareholder after this significant conversion.
So the question is whether you want to kick back to 10 per cent? Do you want to get to 15 or 25 per cent? The only way that is going to happen is if a lot more fans sign up for £5 or £10 per month. If they don’t do that, we might be able to hold at our percentage for a period of time but if the club raises £20million, maybe we will get diluted down again.
The organisation is constantly putting the message out, but it is that word of mouth and existing members going to their friends and family and saying this is a good thing to do. It is money into Rangers, it gives the fans a voice and if there is ever a situation again where the club ends up in less secure hands than it is in at the moment, then Club 1872 will be in a position to react to that.
That is not the only benefit to it, the other benefit is this level of investment. One of the things we are targeting is the latent supporter, so they don’t necessarily go to all the games or buy a strip, but they are Rangers fans. It is trying to get those people to say ‘if the only contribution I make is a month through Club 1872, I am showing my support for Rangers’.
That is probably the audience we would like to tap into. We know people shell out a lot of money following Rangers and not everybody will see the benefit in an extra fiver or tenner a month.
The reason supporters do that is because there is a collective mindset. You support the team, you go to the game. The team, the manager or the players will do things that aren’t popular from time to time, but you still support the team. Club 1872 has done things that haven’t been popular within the support, but equally we have done things that have been very popular, particularly around statements and people endorse that online or write to us.
But it doesn’t translate into memberships, we don’t see people signing up on that basis. We would like to encourage the mindset within the support that this is something that is worthwhile, that you stick with it whether or not the organisation is doing something at the particular moment that you like. The reality is that we can’t please all of the people all of the time. We would like to, but there are times where the organisation does things policy wise or statement wise that you don’t necessarily agree with.
But we want the mindset that this is just something you do. You buy your season ticket, you buy your jersey and you pay your Club 1872 subscription and stick with it. I think we still have some work to do with the support in terms of that collective responsibility mindset.
IS A SEAT ON THE BOARD STILL AN AIM? HAS THERE BEEN ANY MOVEMENT ON THAT?
LF: The members voted for it and it is a stated aim of the organisation. There is a lot of work, I think, to be done. It is about working out the mechanics of how it could actually work and setting the expectations of the supporters in terms of what that role would actually be.
There is still this idea that if you have a fan on the board that they will emerge from every board meeting and announce to people what was discussed and what they argued for. That might work at slightly smaller clubs, but Rangers is a big business and it doesn’t work here.
You would have to have an understanding, and a trust actually, that the person is doing the best they can on behalf of the members to feedback to the club. A lot of that stuff is happening already.
You would want the seat on the board to formalise that process and give you the voting power and it is something the members have voted for so it is an aim of Club 1872. We haven’t met any resistance from the club and discussions about it are ongoing.
Even by the standards of the Evening Times, that’s poor.
Something is in the wind, and that article has fear stamped all over it.
See, laughing at those less fortunate than yourself is a good way to cheer yourself up.
Yesterday, we had this..
today.. explain this..and i promise you you’ll raise an eyebrow when you find out what it really is.