There was the good at the Celtic AGM – more money for Brendan Rodgers in January as well as a warm welcome for the Celtic manager who returned for a second stint at the club this summer after leaving in inauspicious circumstances – and then there was the bad; the civil war between the club and the Green Brigade that inevitably rumbled throughout a meeting that got fractious at times.
One female fan took to the floor to suggest that the group are ‘divisive and ban should be permanent’ which was met with some applause before she was shouted down by others in the room, prompting chairman Peter Lawwell to ask those in attendance ‘to respect people’s opinions or leave.’
Celtic chief executive Michael Nicholson stressed that the problem with the Green Brigade has been about safety as he cited increasing concerns raised after incidents against Feyenoord and Fir Park.
There has been an accusation that the club responded to the showing of Palestinian flags with the ban for that sectoin of the support with the board stressing that the ban came after an increase in antagonising behaviour was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
Nicholson referenced the stadium break in aahead of Celtic’s Champions League game against Lazio while reaffirming that conversations had taken place with the fan group over the season and in the early part of the season about safety issues. The issues remain an ‘ongoing process.’
The news that Celtic fans want to hear was there too with confirmation that there will be money available in January for Brendan Rodgers to spend, although it was qualified by a reminder that the football world has moved on substantially from where it was when Celtic made it to the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League a decade ago.
Rodgers himself reference the ‘hurt’ he caused at his exit from the club first time around. He also maintained that he believes the club are capable of building a side who can compete at Europe’s top table.
‘We have a squad that’s bigger than what we want but that’s something we will address in the next two transfer windows,’ he said, ‘We will have the numbers and the quality we really want. In terms of the Champions League we have been really competitive other than the second-half in the Atletico game.’
There were cheers and digs along the way too; Nicholson raised a laugh when asked ‘what would happen if a referee and VAR misses a key decision’ to which he replied ‘penalty Rangers’ to the inevitable chuckles. When asked too about Scottish refereeing standards, Lawwell didn’t miss a chance to aim a little barb.
‘You can probably recollect the last time a penalty was given against Rangers was when John Greig handed the ball.’
The more sober matters, however, will be on how Celtic build a squad capable of competing at Champions League level and how they smooth over the increasing chasm between the boardroom and elements of the support.