Keith Jackson has penned a glowing endorsement of his mate Peter Lawwell being appointed as Celtic chairman.
In December 2020 Jackson reported how a senior source at Celtic had criticised supporters for having a huge sense of entitlement.
On 30 June 2020 Lawwell gave his last ever newspaper interview as CEO to Jackson in the Daily Record, explaining his plan to have supporters inside Celtic Park ahead of the SPFL season getting underway. It was to be more than a year before a fan watched a match inside Celtic Park.
In today’s offering Jackson recalls how the two close friends discussed the difficulties of Celtic winning a 10th successive title which was an inspired observation by Lawwell having abandoned traditional recruitment procedures to appoint a close pal for the key role as he enjoyed a post-match shower at Hampden.
From a former Liverpool boss to the guy that had been mutually consented by Hibs set the direction for the next few seasons, often referred to as the managed decline.
After sharing details of his heart-to-heart conversation Jackson writes:
It defies any kind of logic then that some Celtic fans fear Lawwell’s imminent return to the club might somehow derail the progress Postecoglou is putting together on the pitch. On the contrary, Lawwell’s comeback to the corridors of power will only underpin Celtic’s recovery rather than do anything to undermine it.
That will be the Lawwell that stood by Lennon after he repeated the Cluj errors with an open goal one-off Champions League qualifier at home to Ferencvaros. That watched four successive autumn home defeats during Lockdown without a flutter.
In December a managerial review was announced, in February it concluded that Lenny was the man for the job before he walked away after losing to his second Ross County manager of the season.
With Lawwell’s media messengers claiming that a deal for Eddie Howe was done and dusted, without any commitment from the former Bournemouth boss, things suddenly fell flat. Celtic even announced their failure to appoint Howe on their website!
After a 106 day wait Postecoglou was appointed, inheriting a shell of a squad with even less of an infrastructure for a ‘modern European club’.
If Lawwell was such a visionary why didn’t he send for Postecoglou in October or November 2020 rather than blindly clinging on to his pal that knew the city.
Under his watch Maribor, Malmo, Cluj, AEK Athens, Molde, Ferencvaros, Copenhagen FC and Sparta Prague treated the away dressing room at Celtic Park as their party zone while the ‘hugely influential’ Lawwell was upstairs reviewing another costly European disaster. Costly for the club, not his own salary which topped £3m for the year 2018/19 which included the Champions League KO from AEK Athens.
Appointed CEO in October 2003 Celtic beat Teplice and Barcelona that season in UEFA Cup knock out ties. It is now over 18 years since they won a knock-out tie, in his 12 months at Ibrox Giovanni van Bronckhorst won four knock out ties with no-one squealing for the Dutchman to retain his job.
If there were any fixtures that Nir Bitton could be relied on to appear in it would be Champions League qualifiers as Lawwell again failed to prepare the club for the most important and lucrative games of the season. As a handover Postecoglou was given a central defensive partnership of Bitton and Stephen Welsh to face Midtjylland, when the Israeli was sent off Dane Murray came off the bench, starting his only competitive match in the return leg, which Celtic lost.
The signings of Youssouf Mulumbu, Vakoun Bayo, Jeremie Toljan, Oli Burke and Marian Shved forced Brendan Rodgers out the door in February 2019 as he realised that successive trebles had simply reinforced the CEO’s view that he was the star turn at the club. Disco lights had replaced Zadok the Priest.
With no UK based boss prepared to go near the club Lawwell again promoted his favourite caretaker, under Lennon signings continued on that familiar downward path.
Hatem Abd Elhamed and Ismaila Soro were recruited from Israel with a job-lot of others such as Patryk Klimala and Boli Bolingoli brought in, creating no impact with an increasing dependency on a declining core of players such as Kris Ajer, Odsonne Edouard and Ryan Christie looking to get out having done their bit.
Finally in came Albian Ajeti and Vasilis Barkas for a combined £10m during lockdown, after the traditional Champions League exit, this time to Ferencvaros, David Turnbull and Shane Duffy arrived with only the former Motherwell man making a contribution.
Diego Laxalt and Jonjoe Kenny were brought in on loan with Celtic paying out huge wages as Lennon and Lawwell overlooked Tony Ralston and Greg Taylor which sort of summed up their combined judgement.
At the 2019 AGM Lawwell laughed as he told the room that he hadn’t read the 2012 Five Way Agreement drawn up by his good friends Stewart Regan and Neil Doncaster. At the 2022 AGM his prodigy Michael Nicholson told shareholders he had read the document and that there was no disadvantage to Celtic that a competitor club had their own set of rules.
In his last ever club interview Lawwell gave the most qualified apology ever when he explained the disastrous Dubai trip of January 2021.
CLICK HERE for Celtic statement on entitled supporters claim in Jackson’s article.