Monday, December 29, 2014

Intermission*

The curtain came down on The Asterisk Years for 2014 on Sunday and it was fitting that it was in Carluke given the enormous role people from town have played in the project. After the initial flurry of dates, I realised that the tour was an enormous commitment and that time would be needed to re-charge the batteries at some points during it. After a couple of things fell through, I seized the time from now until we resume in Drogheda on January 24th for a complete break and thank God I did, more of that later.

From the two huge screenings in Glasgow in the middle of November, the first place the film was going was Larne. Now, if you're reading this and are part of the Larne tourist board, you owe me money because every time I go there I spend the week before telling everyone how fucking great it is. This is because Larne is, bar none, the place I go where the most folk say "why the fuck you going there?" Apart from the obvious "They invited me", the point of taking The Asterisk Years round the world is to go anywhere and everywhere to get the story out there. The bonus of Larne it has great Tims like Gary Bergin and Martin Wilson, the latter being the current Mayor, who don't hide who they are and what they are all about and I'm drawn to that. It was shown in The Station Bar and once a few technical difficulties were sorted out, the film went down a storm and this was a tough crowd. It's a Friday night pub crowd, most who have a good drink in them and don't know me from Adam, Hugh or otherwise. You know what that is like? It's like being a nude model in front of a room full of artists and waiting to see if they want to paint you. But with a packed pub and tremendous reaction, you feel like the next stop is the Louvre.

Also, where else would I be made an official visitor?


A lovely addendum to the Larne trip was the story of Una. Let down for a babysitter at the last minute, she couldn't make the Larne screening so we decided to take the film to her. So on the Saturday afternoon Gary drove to Whiteabbey and we were very warmly received. Which was handy given that we almost took a wrong turn and ended up in Rathcoole. I know I said I would take the film anywhere but I am going to leap here and say that no one in Rathcoole would be up for screening it. More fool them. The small moments though are the best moments and the afternoon we spent with Una, Patsy and family was one of the best moments.


From the north of Ireland, it was onwards south to Dublin and the actual seeds of this screening were sewn in July. As many of you will know, I have some fantastic friends in Dublin and they are the reason for my numerous visits there. Back in the summer, I knew I wanted this film to show in four places, Glasgow, New York, Philadelphia and Dublin. All them are places that mean something to me and contain people who have had enormous positive impact on my life. So I had been talking to my friend Conor about doing a Dublin screening and we took an opportunity at a Dublin-Meath GAA game at Croke Park to meet up with Ciaran Kenny from the Naomh Padraig CSC in The Clonliffe House and made an agreement in principle for a December 6th showing.

This is important for two reasons, the first is the CSC were in the midst of moving venue and had not set home at this time and second is this is the kind of thing that is required to get an independent tour like this going. That day, I flew over on the early flight on the Sunday morning, ate breakfast, went to the pub, then the game, then met Ciaran, then went out with Conor, Mick and the Bhoys and was on a flight again at 6am on the Monday morning. It all sounds like a doss eh? What's not to love about 24 hours solid on the bevvy? Well, no sleep, nervous tension about all the arrangements and deadlines you need to meet, and your last taxi driver speeding you to the airport and offering you 10 euros for a coffee in the airport because he's been told that the other people in the cab are in an army. Not that I am looking for medals (I'm not a lover of armies that give out medals) but going the extra mile is what you need to do when you hang your balls out there. I've always hated this perception that folk who come from places like where I do are lazy, feckless, workshy and all the rest of the bullshit Daily Mail terms we hear. Most of the folk I know work their bollocks off day in, day out and that's something I've tried to do throughout this project, no matter what it takes, keep going, keep focused, let the haters hate and remember the big picture. Anyway kids, that's your life advice for today.

Dublin was a fantastic screening. Mark at the Bad Ass Café was a fantastic host and another big crowd pitched up and I was especially delighted to hook up with Harper and Joe from the HomeBhoys as both played huge parts in this project and both are solid comrades for life.

Why else would they hold me up?


At this point, my life was college, Celtic games, squeeze in some family life and then weekend consumed by a screening. I could say I couldn't tell you the last time I just sat down with a mate for a beer or chat but I could. It was a Friday night in November and I was sharing a beer with my pal Paul at his house when the polis phoned to say someone had tried to sledgehammer in my front door. This was on the back of a mug posting spoilers of the film on social media four hours before. Relax? I'd love to.



The following week was off to the Irvine CSC and that was another nude model scenario. I'd never been in the club before and only really knew Danny McCambridge, the host, through email. So on a Saturday when most folk were consumed by Christmas shopping, I took a train to Glasgow Queen St, a short walk to Central, and then hopped on a packed train to Irvine. Danny met me at the station and experience tells you this is a good sign and that proved to be the case. The Irvine CSC is a fantastic club full of great people. Great set up to show a film and a nice wee bonus of being able to raise £200 for The Kano Foundation.


And so to Nairn. Now I'd been to Nairn in July and knew a lot of the Bhoys there, none more so than James Wallace and his girlfriend Donna (who doubles as my bodyguard) so I was completely relaxed about this screening right up until the day before when I woke up chilled to the bone, sore throat and feeling like I was ready to climb back in the womb. This coincided with my last day of college for the year and I had a report to finish and a 15 minute presentation to do. I went in and explained to the lecturer about my physical state and she said "Well, thanks for coming in and doing this then" Eh, aye, cheers.

After a gruelling day, I was home, on the couch and on the Beechams. One crap sleep later and I was up for a train to Inverness. The fucking cattle train. Three and a half hours later I arrived in Inverness and was met by James and Duncan at the station before being driven by Nairn. This was mad Friday and I felt like death warmed up. Still, it was the usual warm welcome from James' father and a beautiful room, same as last time, provided. The bed was calling me like a buxom wench with two frothy pints but it was off to The Stables Bar for a test and then a bite to eat before the show. The folk in Nairn are fantastic, guys like Kenny Nicol and Big McGoo are full of life and fun and they gave me the energy that night to keep going until around 11pm. Meeting Liam and his pal from Inverness also did. I was wrecked though and went to bed for another crap sleep before the usual poached egg breakfast and back on the train for the next three and a half hours.
 
I had five days in Ireland to see my youngest son and take a break for Christmas but in reality, I was absolutely fucked. The flu was gripping me like a medium sized T shirt and it was hard to really enjoy myself when the only day I wasn't travelling, due to various family commitments, was Christmas Day and it was taking it's toll. Back Friday night and I was exhausted and ill. I was in no state to go to the Ross County game but I had to because I was picking up a signed ball for the Carluke do on the Sunday. At this point I was probably looking to folk like I had just crawled out a swamp.
 
And so to Carluke on Sunday. I actually felt reasonable on Sunday morning, after a dose of Beechams and Ibuprofen and had to be pretty anal with them, telling them I'd travel alone and back because I wanted to control my arrangements so I wasn't relying on anyone else.
 
 
 
I was picked up at the station by the inimitable Richard Swan and we were joined by the McCardie brothers, Brian and Martin, and off to the hall. And what a hall. The Carluke Bhoys do not do anything by half and the welcome and hospitality I received from President Peter Connolly and his committee of Michael McKeever and Dougie Mooney is something I will never, ever forget. Then, I was blown away by the reception the film got, a standing ovation, and was presented with the picture below, which now has pride of place on the living room wall, and I was speechless. It sums up the Carluke Bhoys and Richard Swan in particular (Was delighted to meet his wife Joanna and get enough material on him to last a lifetime though) and makes all the crap worthwhile. Most of it isn't crap though, that's because of folk like you.
 
Now if you don't mind, the curtain is closed for now, yer auld pal needs a break until we resume again on January 24th.
 
And breathe....
 
 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

A Christmas* Message





Well, been a while since I did one of these.

So if you aren't interested in a personal message from me to folk interested in what I do, swipe away now.

I wanted to take the time to reflect and give thanks to all those who have supported me in 2014, bar none the most incredible, bizarre and crazy year of my life. If I had to pick a word to sum it up it would be "relentless". From the second in January that I decided to try and make a film of The Asterisk Years right until now, doing this blog after a seven hour round trip to Nairn with man flu to do a screening, my life has been in the control of others. In fact it sums up supporting Celtic as well. It's ups and downs, twists and turns, brightly coloured and never boring. I'ver been on a total of around 40 planes, 20 trains and buses daily and bounced all over the place in pursuit of this story.


They say with a book that it's your baby until you finish it then it becomes the baby of anyone who buys it. That's true but the difference with a film is that you don't sit over the shoulder of the person reading it after they have bought it whereas at each screening I am there, watching the reactions and listening to the comments. Something you don't even consider when making it. No night or crowd is ever the same. I do a Q&A after each screening and you can never second guess the questions. They range from in depth analysis of the content to whether parts of certain people's anatomy still work. Often folk, strangely if you ask me, just want to ask questions about Celtic and, whilst I am always happy to talk Celtic, occasionally it seems to be forgotten that I don't actually make the decisions at Celtic.  The surreal aspect isn't lost on me either. Like when a guy in Nairn on Friday said to me after the Q&A "Now you know how John Paul Taylor feels" at exactly the same time I got a text question from John Paul Taylor.

There's also the fact that some people are dialled into the information whilst others are witnessing it for the first time. So a balance is needed, probably like a comedian telling a joke for the 50th time. Along with a thick skin. You find out a lot about people when you effectively expose yourself to the world. There were a few people in my life who liked to pat me on the head when I tried anything and then when something actually became a huge success, they never mentioned it and barely speak to me now. Others never spoke to me for years and now are all over me. A couple are even nice to my face but wish nothing but misery on me behind my back. You go through a few stages of different emotions because of this, anger, sadness, frustration, disappointment, before the love and support of others washes all that away like a power hose on a Mini Metro.



Of course these situations were a million miles away when I had the idea of the film. In all honesty if I knew how much work and money was required, I'd probably have never even attempted it. I had to ask lots of people to trust me, I had to devote virtually all my spare time to the project and effectively hand my life over to others for them to comment on, judge and feel like they had the right to constantly criticise me. To give an insight, it took nine months for the entire process of making and editing the film to be complete and despite the hugely successful screenings thus far which have ensured almost 1000 people have seen the film already, I estimate I won't break even on the film until post-America. Throughout that I was constantly attacked online, I was threatened and mocked, I was dehumanised by dafties with Twitter accounts, I was constantly told the film would never get made and was constantly given advice by people who, at most, have maybe been to a cinema once.

Not that I am complaining mind you.

I went into this with my eyes open and a clear focus to get the story out there and keep maximising the impact. That's worked so far and my own barometer is when you can silence a Friday night pub crowd with the content of the film.

One of things I've always been about is never doing anything the way folk expect it to be done. It's the old Punk in me (Nigel his name is) about never adhering to the rules and betting the way everyone else thinks is wrong. The Asterisk Years doesn't need the acceptance of anyone, not least the media. 2014 has woken me up to how many people still hang on every word of the mainstream media and need them to say something before they will believe it. I see my job, in terms of the type of citizen journalism I do, as providing an alternative. That's all.  I am not in the business of needing the approval of anyone or needing anyone to tell me what to think about something. Even with the film, I lay out the evidence and Jah makes it entertaining, but it's still you, the viewer, who has to make your own mind up on what to think about it.

The ability to critically think should never be underestimated and it is what is required to make stuff like this succeed. That's the one thing I ask of a viewer.

I feel like I speak about the abuse I get too much. I've already briefly mentioned it here and it does add weight to the abusers but it actually has become a part of my life now. Even on Wednesday there, I was in Frankie and Benny's in Ocean Terminal in Leith and was just casting a widening eye over the starters when a woman screamed in my face that that I was a "Taig scumbag" and that I will be shot soon.

The Meatballs were decent at least.



The flip side of all this has been the support. The amount of people who have stepped forward for me and offered all sorts of things is something I will never get used to. I know those who go on a career path think that it is their natural calling for folk to love them but I've never been on a career path, far less thought folk should love me, stuff just seems to happen to me. Well, actually, sometimes I can make it happen too and The Asterisk Years is definitely one of those things. For me personally, confidence is a huge thing. Anyone brought up on a council estate knows how much confidence is knocked out of you from the minute you can understand words. You only realise this when you get older though and meet people who have been conditioned all their life to feel entitled. So I tried to constantly remind folk throughout this project that a lot of it was about opportunities that are denied for people like us and that we could give opportunities to people through this project. That's why I am immensely proud that this project has given folk the platform to showcase their talent, it's ensured kids can go and see Celtic, hungry people will be fed and homeless people sheltered.

With that being said, it would be nothing and none of that would be possible without the support of the people in the streets, on social media, who stop me at games or on pubs, or on trains and even planes (My claim to fame is being recognised by the passport guy in Dublin, hopefully for the work) Trying to build something that has credibility and fights back at the PR charade that has engulfed Scottish football for a generation.

It does require a lot of hard work though. Take this week again, fresh from the pre-meal outburst, I went home and man flu hit me like a wet kipper across the face and the prospect of a trip to Nairn on Friday feeling like I wanted to crawl back inside the womb wasn't exactly inspiring.

But you have to go.

It's not easy going to different places and meeting new people if you are constantly working on building your confidence and sometimes you feel like Danny Fucking La Rue in a "The show must go on darling" kind of way as one weekend merges into another.

And the reward comes from the people you meet, new friendships you make and new groups that you enlighten with the information (I can say that last part because that's been the main reaction everywhere). My firm belief is that most people are good. You may put out an opinion on Twitter that some people will go berserk about instantly. That's never really the reaction in a group of people when you are face to face with them.

There are different sections to the Celtic support, those who attach themselves to a CSC or specific message board or who just have a particular opinion about who we are. I don't bracket myself with any of them and am delighted to have met folk from every part of the Celtic support even since the premiere in November.




One thing I have to mention, because others are now aware of them, are the stalkers. I have three who never, ever leave me alone. I've had to block one out of everything I am on and I do because his messages got so sinister that I was half expecting to wake up in Misery.

I am sort a "what you see is what you get" type of guy, often to my detriment, because if you ask me a stupid question you'll get a stupid answer, similarly if you try to noise me up, I will noise you up right back. It's something I've tried to curb but I don't come from a place where you nod like a daft cunt when someone is trying to get one over on you.

A flawless moral guardian is something I will never be.

The Asterisk Years was never about me. What I tried to do is make the transition from the sort of cult fanzine style stuff I did(and a lot of folk love) into the investigative stuff it became. So there was a fair bit of me in the book, less so in the audio book and barely any in the film. The next book has none of me at all. With that being said, I had the story so I had to tell it and that's the way we made it in terms of the film.

No apologies for that.

No apologies also for anything that has been done to progress the project through the last 18 months.

Sincere and heartfelt thanks though to everyone who has supported the project and continues to do so. Particularly those who follow me on Twitter, are in Paul Larkin Books on Facebook or joined the mailing list at www.rightgadgie.com

You are the foundation upon which everything has been built.

With just one more date to go for the film this year (and the fact that it is completely sold out) it's time for a bit reflection, a bit relaxation and to get a first draft of the next book done.

Until then, thank you and thank you again, those who stuck by me, I hope now you're glad you did.

Merry Christmas and a Champion New Year.



Paul

*Not really.

Buy The Asterisk Years: The Edinburgh Establishment versus Celtic right here:
http://www.lulu.com/shop/paul-larkin/the-asterisk-years-the-edinburgh-establishment-v-celtic/paperback/product-21192881.html

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Asterisk Years film-Infomercial



This is your genial host, Portly Paul, giving you a run down as to why I am so run down at the minute. I am kidding of course, slightly, as every minute just now seems to be consumed by college work, travelling, eating crap food, spending lots of money on this film and drowning my sorrows when I realise that.

This is the glamour world of film my friends.

Anyway, enough of my gallows humour, I want you to do one thing for, share this blog. It's going to contain all the information need that will stop meltdowns of everyone going to the two big Glasgow gigs.

Hopefully.

The venue information will be available from me from November 4th onwards. I will be emailing all I can but no doubt will miss a few so don't panic, drop me a line and you'll be fine. It has to be underlined here that the reason for the secrecy is security. A lot of serious threats have been made to me and my family and so to have a venue in Glasgow out there for all to see would unleash that beast again. So when you get told, you'll be getting told in confidence and if you blab it in public, you won't be seeing any film, that I can guarantee.

Second thing is, both days of the Glasgow screenings, 15th and 16th of November, are bought and paid for, strictly in the time periods we have booked, 2pm-5pm. Latecomers won't be admitted, there won't be any exceptions and there is no point contacting me or anyone else on the day saying "I'm running late" or whatever because that would be akin to phoning the ref of the game on Thursday and asking him to delay the kick off for 20 minutes,

These dates have been locked in since July and that's ample time to organise.

Similarly we have been organising this since July so please be assured that we have put a lot of thought into the show.

(If this all sounds patronising, I can tell you now I personally have had questions that have asked for the film time to be changed to suit a shift pattern, bands I don't know have been suggested, films by other people to be shown at it and even a comedian offering to host the gig for a mere £700. I can assure you Average Joe Miller is much funnier and slightly cheaper)

We got this.

In terms of the tour, most of that has gone swimmingly. I'll try and explain the process again so that folk can see how it works. If you want to host the film, all you need is venue, a HDMI capable screen/tv, laptop and the will to host it.  Most pubs have these facilities. You know your crowd, you know your venue. With that in mind, you get charged a flat fee, travel expenses and that's it. After that, you do what you like. A lot of folk think we are looking for venues to take over. Absolutely not. If you want to host it, great. That's it. We don't need to convince folk to host it or sell the film to people, it will speak for itself. We have had a few venues that have been really keen and then suddenly contact just stops, which is always a shame, especially when loads of people say that's where they were going to come see it.


If it's a small CSC event, then the fee is the same everywhere. If it's a big event, the fee goes up but not by that much.

With the amount of dates we have on the tour now, there is very limited scope to add more. At a push I'd say we could fit in five more. So if you're thinking about it, now is the time to act.

In terms of actual film, that's done. The master copy is being sent this week and will be tested at the premiere venue this week.

The premiere is completely sold out. If we get call offs the week before, there is already a list of around 30 people wanting to step in.

The best thing to do is go here www.theasteriskyears.com and buy a ticket for the charity screening the day after for just £10.

Speaking of the premiere, a lot of folk are working hard to make it a success. They won't be named yet but will in the fullness of time. Also, it's a film premiere, so if you're going and you're reading the, make sure your sunday best clothes are ready. The dress code is smart because we want you all to look good for the photo opportunities.

Also, there is a bar there which will be free, so drink them dry because it's already been paid for. Once it's gone, it's gone.

Above all else, enjoy this. This project seems to have been laced with stress because, well, it has, but we are here now and have a film, so sit back, relax, switch off your phones and help us fight back.

Because without you, this would still be a stand up gig and you saw how bad those jokes were at the start of this blog.




Monday, August 4, 2014

The Asterisk Years-One Year On

So the final stretch of work needed to complete the film is this week. Just over a year from when I launched this project, it's been a year that even sitting down to write about makes me question my own sanity. What the aim always was was to disrupt the planned David Murray comeback to Scottish football and highlight the role of the Edinburgh Establishment in the demise of Rangers, the constant cheating that went on and the attempted murder of our club so to say that every trophy Rangers won in that Murray era should have an asterisk beside it,

The means to do this was a book, audio book and documentary. Now, let me address the book first. If I've learned one thing it's that folk like me are not supposed to have an opinion on things like this. I've documented the level of hate that has came from one third of Glasgow, at times so bad that you'd think I'd been a serial killer and was documenting how I did it, but this and the style of book attracted a certain type of Celtic supporter who went out their way to stop people buying it. You see what I attempted to do is parallel my own life growing up in Edinburgh with that of the Edinburgh Establishment. There were two reasons for this: To "fashion the narrative" as they say in the Boogie Down Bronx and to tip my hat to those who had bought and loved my books previously and the style they were written in. This upset some Celtic supporters so much that they would take to reviews and Social Media pleading with others not to buy the book. A staggering level of hate came towards me from about five supporters who just seemed hell bent on slaughtering the book no matter what and still goes on to this day. My own take on that is I've read plenty Celtic books I didn't like but the fact that they were written by Celtic supporters kind of stopped me going out and slaughtering them and the writer at every opportunity since reading them. Yet it's me who is the "Schemie embarrassment who should be put down" as one of them so eloquently put.

On a similar note I am often asked about prominent people in the Celtic world and the level of help/publicity they have given this project. One thing I pride myself on is highlighting who helps me and so if you've not heard a name from my lips then you can be sure they haven't helped. To be fair, loads have noticed this and often ask me why? That, for someone with a lot to say, is something I can't answer. For years I punted others stuff in good faith but when the roles were reversed it wasn't to be. As Tony Benn always said "Keep focused on what you're doing and never wrestle with chimney sweeps"

Moving to the audio book and this was when I knew that other information was coming and I would be in a position to start dropping stuff of substance. See a couple of folk still haven't understood that the book was just the start. It was a transition from the sort of "Punk Fanzine" writing I'd done previously into a more investigative style. Yet even two weeks ago I saw someone slaughter my research skills. At this point I point you in the direction of the other blogs that are here and let you be the judge.

Anyway the audio book was a tough slog but worth it. There was a great reaction to it and I was helped by some wonderful voices that brought the book to life. We also added a few new things just to see if folk were paying attention and bit by bit they noticed. This was the final jet fuel needed to do the documentary. It was almost derailed immediately by someone who, to this day, did things that still baffle the rest of us and none of of us have any clue as to why. Another thing you learn, never underestimate the queerness of folk. From total disappearance to an inexplicable unfollow on Twitter, you realise that a lot of folk need their balls cupped constantly in life and I've only got two hands. Similarly some folk start holding you responsible for things others do and say. Remember Tony Benn.

Of course the level of support has been both staggering and humbling to the point of almost being overwhelming. For all the shit I've had to put up with, there have many so many warm bath moments that it's all worth it. You come to expect abuse, and it come from many angles, one person was upset I said Barry Bonds was a cheat whilst another went berserk one day because I said I was off to see my son in Ireland ("You have a fucking duty to answer my messages!!!") and that was someone I've never spoken to in my life before.

Even when the trailers came out, a couple of people who claim to be friends to my face couldn't wait to slaughter them behind my back. No doubt whilst holding their Academy Awards. One thing social media is brilliant for is you know within minutes when someone is talking shit about you. I say to folk like this now, if you don't like me, the project or others involved, fine, but don't run down to the bingo and start bitching about it. Love is all you need.

Hey though, I learned really quickly that with a thing like this, it's easy to spot your real friends and and it gets easier to hold your tongue.

Moreover though, a look back and I am proud of what has been achieved so far,. I think we have brought to the fore some names that were not known and a part of the story that wasn't out there. I also think we have put a serious dent in Murray's comeback and massive obstacles in front of the narrative that certain people wanted to put out there when Rangers were liquidated (Brechin v Sevco anyone?). From Ally McCoist to Neil Doncaster, hopefully their constant two faces are now there for all to see. Plus the photo of Murray and "The man I never met" in Charlotte Square was nice. A dedicated team of researchers make that happen.

So where do we go now? Well, I won't be bombarding you with promo for a while. The premiere is sold out and the charity screening is a third of the way sold out three months before it happens so we can give you a break from it. If you want tickets, they are here www.theasteriskyears.com 

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you who has supported this project. Especially those who "Got it" from day one. I'd also like to bend at the knee to those wonderful people who are helping to ensure that this documentary is blasted all over the world. The tour is the last stage and without the use of enhancements either.

Finally, "Bob", Merci.


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Is this the reason Sevco are in California?

Something doesn't make sense, right? A cash-strapped club running round California in mid summer playing teams that could never afford to bring them over.

I just wonder, even in the revised deal that Newco would have had to do, this is the reason why below:

1.         Venue Use Agreement
Parties:                RFC and Glasgow City Council
Date:                   8 June 2007 (signed by GCC on 11 June 2007)
Term:                   8 June 2007 until terminated in accordance with the terms of the Agreement.
Amount:               £150,000 event hire charge for each of 26 and 27 July 2014, £15,000 venue hire charge for each day from 22 - 25 July 2014 and 28 - 30 July 2014 inclusive (i.e. EXCLUDING 26 and 27 July) and a £21,000 administration charge for each of 26 and 27 July 2014.
Service:               The purpose is to use the venue for 2014 Commonwealth Games, which Glasgow is hosting – specifically the Rugby 7s on 26 and 27 July 2014.
Unusual Terms:  RFC effectively make all aspects of the stadium available for GCC to hold the event, with exclusive use from 22-30 July 2014.
Venue Record of Condition – joint inspection to check the state of the stadium before GCC takes over.
RFC permits GCC to set ticket prices, close certain parts of the stadium, will provide it with access to equipment rooms and provide information in relation to the stadium and surrounding areas on request.
GCC will provide security, medical services. It will also pay for: the costs of preparation; utilities (beyond those which would normally be accrued during the period in question); any deductions or refunds to sponsors etc for logos being removed from the stadium. The parties will discuss remedial work to stadium following use.
GCC will make a available a contingency venue for any fixtures RFC wishes to play during the period. Additional payments to compensate RFC for the inability to hold fixtures during the period will be calculated according to the equivalent revenues received between 2011 and 2013.
GCC is entitled to name the stadium during the period, subject to any agreements between RFC and a third party.
GCC has no duty to consult RFC on commercial and marketing rights it holds in connection with the 7s and the stadium.
RFC has no broadcast rights for the Commonwealth Games, cannot reproduce CG intellectual property rights and has restrictions on its marketing rights.
Detailed dispute resolution procedures.
RFC will have no claim for indemnity, damages or compensation by if it is informed by GCC that the CGs have been taken away from Glasgow before 22 July 2013.
GCC can terminate immediately if the stadium not up to standards required on Delivery Date (22 July 2014), or any relevant sporting federation withdraws its approval of the stadium for the 7s as a result of a breach of the agreement.
Additionally, on 17 October 2008 the Scottish Ministers provided a guarantee to RFC which stated that they will pay RFC any revenues due under the Venue Use Agreement that GCC fail to pay. The liability of the Scottish Ministers shall in no circumstances exceed that of GCC.
Who needs a Sugar Daddy when you have a very wealthy friend in Glasgow City Council?
Did someone mention State Aid?

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Why haven't the SFA chased £200k from Craig Whyte?

So, we know that Regan and Doncaster knew as far back as Sept 11 Rangers were heading for Armageddon.

We know that just after that the TV deal was changed so that a "Rangers" had to be in the top flight.

What we don't know is, hang on, remember this case?

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-22381479

When Craig Whyte was questioned about it this week, here is what he said:

"The SFA case has been 'stayed' which I'm surprised hasn't been reported. It could rear it's head again but I doubt Regan & Ogilvie want to be cross examined in court"

Oh, that's a bit weird isn't it?

Isn't it a bit strange that despite tough times, we've not had the SFA announcing that they have recovered the fine.  Well it appears that Whyte might not be telling the truth on this one.

So the question is did the SFA succeed in their court case mentioned above, or has the case been stayed?

And if it has been 'stayed' is this due to the reluctance of Stewart Regan and Campbell Ogilvie to take to the witness stand in an open court and be forced to divulge the full extent of their private dinner with Craig Whyte the week before Christmas of 2011.

"What meeting?!" I hear you say. Well, this one:


Was this the dinner date where assurances were given to Rangers about titles not being stripped? You can see Craig Whyte was assured no matter what happened, he was fine.

Did the SFA get that £200k?

Friday, July 18, 2014

When Ally's big mouth cost Sevco £5m

So we know Ally McCoist likes to complain. Normally he does it about Celtic so to deflect from his inability to manage a football team properly.

Sometimes though, it costs his employers £5m.

Keep complaining please, Ally.

From: Graeme Park
Date: 7 August 2012 11:30:21 BST
To: BrianStockbridge@rangers.co.uk
Cc: CharlesGreen@rangers.co.uk
Subject: Coach Provision - your cancellation
Dear Brian,

Further to your call last night I would just like to convey my disappointment at the Club's decision to terminate a sponsorship relationship that has lasted 41 years.

I appreciate your comments that as finance Director you did not wish to breach the contract you agreed prior to the Brechin game (also confirmed in writing on the 2nd of August - copy of letter attached) but you had to do so because of the strong feelings from Charles and Alistair.  I do find it disappointing that Alistair has complained about the cleanliness of the coach as I personally went to check the coach in the car park at Brechin (and it was inspected  prior to departure).  Furthermore, it is the first negative comment we have had in 41 years of supplying the team coach to Rangers Football Club.

Indeed, we have always acted in the utmost good faith and have to this day continued to supply cars way beyond the end of the contract for that provision although as we confirmed yesterday in our call these will be collected today.  Similarly, we have ordered both a playstation and wifi to be installed on the team coach after your request during the negotiations whereby you renewed our contract for a period of 3 years.  Although you didn't request that we ordered these items, the comfort of the management team and the players was uppermost in our thoughts so we proceeded with the order.  Sandy Jardine also phoned a few days after Brechin to enquire as to whether we could look to install wifi and a playstation and I confirmed to him that it had been ordered - Sandy could confirm this to you if needs be.

I would have hoped that after a relationship of 41 years that if there was a concern about the cleanliness of the team coach that a conversation could have taken place - it certainly wasn't mentioned by the numerous first team players or by Sandy; all of whom I spoke with after the Brechin match.  However, it appears that Alistair and Charles have decided on the basis of one trip in 41 years, during which the Club will have used us on thousands of occasions, that the Club wishes to breach our contract and replace our company with another coach supplier.  To draw a comparison, that would be akin to us cancelling our sponsorship due to a poor meal on one occasion in the Members or a goal less draw which our guests didn't enjoy.

I have tried to call both Alistair and Charles as clearly they have taken the decision out of your hands.  However, neither have returned my call to date.

We are in no doubt that you are in breach of contract and I would welcome your feedback before our Board considers our position.

Obviously, if the Club changes it's position we would be delighted to talk to you again and on a personal level I will continue to travel the length and breadth of Scotland supporting my team.


From: Graeme Park
Sent: 16 September 2013 09:19
To: Craig Mather
Subject: Alternative Meeting
 
Craig,

I do apologise for the direct approach given your very busy schedule.  However, I am conscious that we have not followed up on the meeting that was scheduled for the end of July and that this matter has dragged on for over a year although clearly that is not an issue caused by you. 

I was heartened to read your comments about wishing for the Club to proceed and develop over the next few years - a sentiment shared by every Rangers fan. 

One of the reasons why I have not followed up since July is that I appreciate you've had a lot on and didn't want to trouble you.

However, I have attached the tender document that we were asked to complete prior to the Club committing to a 3 year contract with us for the supply of the team coach - a contract that the Club is, unfortunately, currently breaching.

To give you a bit of background (although I think Ian has filled you in), we have supplied the team coach for 41 years.  We were asked to take part in a tender process which we won with Brian Stockbridge commenting that "it was the best deal financially for the Club".  Within 10 days Brian told us that the Club no longer wished to honour the contract, indeed he disputed we had a contract despite me having a witness to him agreeing a verbal contract (legally binding in Scotland) and having a written contract issued by the Club.  He told me that the decision wasn't one he agreed with but was taken out of his hands by Alistair and Charles Green.  Charles subsequently denied any involvement in the process and Alistair is on record as dismissing his involvement and actually said "Graeme, you've been involved with the Club longer than me, I didn't have anything to do with it" - again I have a witness to this conversation.

Perhaps the most troubling aspect of all of this is that I made offers of investment of up to £5m to Charles Green, Imran Ahmad and Brian Stockbridge, both in writing and verbally, prior to this tender process and also after it.  Clearly, the offer after it was subject not only to the due diligence questions we raised at the initial stage but also that our contract was honoured.

Charles Green, Imran Ahmad and everyone else involved in the decision have all admitted it was badly handled.  Given that you are new to this situation I am sure that you would be keen to resolve it and restore a relationship that was in place for 41 years.

I am happy to have a meeting to discuss it or alternatively I am happy for both parties to start working to the terms of the contract agreed.

Kind Regards,
Graeme Park

Thursday, July 17, 2014

When Ally McCoist was invisible

You will all, hopefully, have seen the outstanding work done by @invisiblesthe this week collecting sleeping bags from T in the Park punters, washing them and then using them to keep homeless people warm. And, of course,  the hearts of all who witnessed this warm too.

You will know, definitely, that Ally McCoist is a kind, caring, cheeky chappie type of guy, right? So how do you explain this?


My guess is, given that Ally McCoist is a kind, caring, cheeky chappie type of a guy, he was there but was just invisible for the day.

One for the Accountants out there

I'm not a numbers guy. So I am left with no clue about this kind of stuff. Which is why I thought I'd put this out there for all number bods and bodettes. It looks to me that this was a business that was being projected to be liquidated way, way before it was? Maybe this is why Project Charlotte came about? But then what do I know?

Well I know that it was Duff and Phelps who did these forecasts back in September 2011.

Pick away.

http://www.theasteriskyears.com/charlotte-cashflow/

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Project Charlotte: The plan to liquidate Rangers

So laid out in front of you is the plan to liquidate Rangers. The first thing to notice is the date, October 5th 2011.

Especially when you look at the key players:

CW-Craig Whyte

GW-Gary Withey

MCR-Duff and Phelps.

Now that's funny isn't it? Didn't Craig Whyte have to go to court to get Duff and Phelps appointed in February 2012? So why are they in the process back in October 2011?

Also, October 2011 stands out as the month Neil Doncaster secretly changed the TV deal so that a "Rangers" had to be in the top flight. Did Neil know about this then? Did the SFA? or did Craig and and the boys just draw all this up on a whim after no consultation with anyone?

Plus, did any creditors know this far back? Did the face painters and newsagents have any chance to save their money?

There is lots to pick the bones out of there dear friends.

And then there is the name "Project Charlotte", now I wonder why it is called that...

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Operation:Clear Murray is underway

Let me first say there are a limited amount of Asterisk Years premiere tickets available. It is being shown in Glasgow, November 15th, 2pm. Tickets are £21 which include a complimentary bar and can be purchased via paypal to westillwon@hotmail.com

So already we have the press punting the ludicrous notion that Craig Whyte killed Rangers. He duped David Murray. As I've told anyone who would listen that is the equivalent of Rodney Trotter duping Del Boy.

The questions the fans and press need to ask themselves are:

Why did David Murray dismiss all other interested parties in favour of Whyte?

Why was David Murray in constant contact with Whyte well after the "sale"?

How was Craig Whyte able to get so much money into the club in loans after "taking over" ?

How come if Craig Whyte really is the big bad guy, he's swanning around Mayfair, attending Prince after show parties and ensuring Gordon Ramsay will never be skint?

Why?

The Asterisk Years can and will prove all this.

PS
If anyone at the Daily Record reads this, we don't want money or accreditation for the photo, please highlight @invisiblesthe instead. Ta.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Asterisk Years Tour-FAQ






Are these the only places that the film is going to?

No. These are merely the first dates. Talks are ongoing with venues all over the world and more dates will be added.

Why isn't the film coming to where I am?

Because you haven't invited us!

Ok, I want you to come to me, how do I go about it?

Just ask us. It really is that simple.

What equipment would I need?

A laptop and a big screen/TV is the bare minimum.

Ok, does the venue need to be huge?

Absolutely not. Big or small, all things are considered.

How much will it cost?

We do deals based on the number of people that will be in your venue. We will ALWAYS try to ensure that your pub, club or CSC does well.

What else do we get?

I am happy to introduce the film and to do Q&A afterwards. I don't have to though.

Ok, you've convinced me, how do I get in touch?

lovest86@hotmail.com or @paullarkin74 on Twitter

You haven't convinced me, I hope it fails.

We're not running a popularity contest.

One last thing, where is the Premiere and how do I get tickets?

It's in Glasgow at 2pm on Sat November 15th. The venue is not being released just now for obvious reasons. Tickets are limited and on sale from July 11th. Join "Paul Larkin Books" on Facebook or the mailing list at www.theasteriskyears.com

 


Saturday, June 21, 2014

The Asterisk Years-Trailer 1.0

So here we have the first ever trailer for The Asterisk Years documentary which is out in November.

There is another one cut and coming out we hope you enjoy this one in the meantime.

https://vimeo.com/98819327

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

John Collins: Fit.

So we have a new assistant manager and it's been warmly welcomed by most. John Collins single-minded style has seen him gain critics but you get the impression that he couldn't care less. For Celtic supporters there a few things we care about and all of them lead to the team winning football matches. There are some concerns with Collins based on previous incidents but, perhaps, they only tell part of the story.

The most common of these is that no players will get on with Collins, he's too stubborn and not good with people. This comes from the player rebellion at Easter Road which, common to popular belief, did not force him out. The accusation was that Collins training and discipline was too much for the players. Yet two players at Easter Road then wouldn't agree. Benji and Zemmama are both devout Muslims. As part of that faith, they observe Ramadan in the ninth month of the Islamic calendar a lot of which includes fasting. John Collins not only changed their training routines to fit in with the custom, he also trained separately with both to show he was in complete support of their custom.

Something that is increasingly important to all fans is how much employees are in it for the money rather than the good of their club. I've seen it leveled at Collins that he is greedy that way, based on his move to Monaco on a free. Of course he did give Celtic six years of outstanding service before then but it should also be remembered that he took the Livingston gig on a very modest salary in order to ensure his children were educated in Scotland.

Of course in this climate one thing that is pertinent to many fans is the issue of, not to put too fine a point on it, is he a yes man? I doubt anything in his character suggest he is but let me point you in the direction of a story from a Celtic youth game last season. Celtic were playing well and Peter Lawwell, rather smugly, approached John Collins and asked him what he thought of them? John Collins proceeded slaughter the style of play and certain individuals in the team much to the shock of Lawwell and a stunned Celtic board.

So, this is the start of something new and it might just fit.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Two weeks on: Are we there yet?

So tomorrow (Thursday) will be two weeks since Neil Lennon resigned as manager. It's been a bit of a circus since then with a constant stream of stories from media outlets that have a lot of words but very little of substance actually in them, a mass outcry from Social Media any time certain names have been mentioned and, of course, a new bookies favourite every two days. Yet if we are to believe Peter Lawwell then no one has even been offered the job, so what exactly is going on?

It is clear that Dermot Desmond is taking the main role in this so it is difficult for Lawwell to drip anything out to his pet journalists like he did when he let a few know when he would be arriving at Celtic Park so he could give a brief comment on Roy Keane. At that point Celtic were supremely confident Keane would be the new manager and were effectively making a soft announcement. By Monday though alarm bells were ringing and it was clear Keane had got cold feet.  Celtic are pretty unhappy that Martin O'Neill leaked the talks and I think there's no doubt he did this to amp up the pressure on Keane staying.

That's politics in football.

Peter Lawwell has been in Ireland and Austria in the last week but none have anything to do with the search for a new manager. One was a supporters function and one is a UEFA meeting and it's clear his involvement in the process is slightly less than he would like.

Dermot Desmond has spoken to a few people in the game regarding our new manager, Gary Lineker and Gordon Strachan are but two, but it is not known what came out of those "advice" talks. Owen Coyle's name continues to be bandied about, I think primarily because he is golfing buddy of Desmond, but he flew out to Tenerife after the Hibs v Hamilton game and has had no contact despite people close to him briefing otherwise. Ditto Jackie McNamara who is a keen spectator from the sidelines.

So where are we? It's difficult to say but we could have a new manager today as easily as we could wait another week. From a fans perspective I don't think many buy into the whole "We are taking time to get the right candidate" stuff purely because there are plenty good candidates out there who are dying to take the job.

After Keane declared his lack of interest, I just wonder whether eyes have turned to another big box office type like Henrik and perhaps a safe pair of hands as his no2.

That's just a hunch though.

As Paulie Walnuts always says "Nobody knows what the future holds, my friend"

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Did Rangers actually pay SFA £400k for Walter Smith?

Scotland fans will remember it as the time that Scotland looked like they were about to become a decent side again. Rangers fans will remember it as the time Barry Ferguson got rid of Paul Le Guen. Amid the hoo-ha of Smith going back to Rangers, there was talk of Rangers paying the SFA £400k for Smith.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/internationals/6249383.stm

The question is: Did they?

A Tartan Army foot soldier wasn't sure and sent this email to the SFA:

"Hello,

A bit of back story may help.  I was a committed tartan army man,
missed 5 home games in 20 years, though not always a card holding
member of tartan army.  But a big part of my support for the national
team died when Walter Smith left us during the campaign.  I honestly
couldn't believe it and it still rankles 5 years on.
 
I've gone over the published accounts of Rangers every year looking
for the £400,000 compensation payment that the SFA negotiated.  But
I've never seen any sign of it.
 
I also checked the published creditor list that Duff & Phelps made
public, thinking perhaps the payment was still to be made.  But there
was no listing of yourselves to the tune of £400,000.  Which is an
enormous amount of money, but nothing compared to us qualifying which
I'm sure he would have accomplished.
 
Really I'm looking for someone at the SFA to supply documented proof
positive that this money was paid.  I've spoken to a few tartan army
boys about it and they're very curious also and had just assumed it to
be settled.
 .
 
Many thanks for your assistance in this matter"

Looking at the RFC accounts from the subsequent years, there is no record of any such payment, staggered or otherwise.

RFC 2007 accounts
http://www.rangers.co.uk/index.php/club/shareholders/item/download/8_74207668d5bb80ab4797b36213bcb2f6
RFC 2008 accounts
http://www.rangers.co.uk/index.php/club/shareholders/item/download/14_4b4314d272b0efc3c4e3335bdb1d0e56
RFC 2009 annual report
http://www.rangers.co.uk/index.php/club/shareholders/item/download/10_bcb3b0419d29cbdedf758252f787221c
RFC 2010 annual report
http://www.rangers.co.uk/index.php/club/shareholders/item/download/11_d3a9cebfa14973131a304f4cd27b0e2c
 
Yet this was Mark Snell's reply:

Hi XXXX
 
I can confirm that compensation was paid by Rangers for the release of
Walter Smith from his contract with the Scottish Football Association.
We cannot disclose details of confidential contracts.
 
Regards,
 
 
Mark Snell
Communications Executive
The Scottish Football Association
 
Tel: +44 (0)141 616 6029
Mob: + 44 (0)7904 604 943
Fax: +44 (0)141 616 6001
Email: mark.snell@scottishfa.co.uk

So nothing in the accounts, not in the list of creditors but SFA confirm it was paid. If so, when? how? and by whom?

Scotland deserves to know.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Who will direct our football?

You will, like me, have been delighted to have to see the Lions return to the scene of their greatest ever triumph over the last few days. Their wives were even there, something a few of them never got to do first time around. Members of the "Celtic Media Team" followed their every step with pictures and tweets galore. The trip was underwritten by a few choice folk who paid £1800 to join the Lions. It may surprise you to know that they weren't the only ones that they joined as the board and CEO were all along for the ride. Specific instructions were given not to photograph certain members of the Celtic party but a picture slipped out of Brian Wilson, who took time out from abusing anyone who disagrees with his politics, to sacrifice himself for the good of the club. (Which reminds me, I am taking time out of my busy schedule to go to the pub on Wednesday night, please, don't thank me)

Let's have some fun and assume the search for a new manager starts when the plane back from Lisbon touches down shall we?

Like many of you I've not been exactly enamoured with the candidates that have been mentioned thus far. The worst of these by miles is Owen Coyle. It's clear Coyle has been on a mission to raise his profile in Scotland ever since Dave Whelan turfed him out at Wigan. A pal of Dermot Desmond, Coyle was on standby to take over last summer if Neil Lennon had quit then, something that Celtic firmly believed he would do right up until pre-season started. Anyone I've spoke to in and around the game since Neil Lennon stepped down has been aghast that Coyle is even quoted given that he turned down the job in 2009. What concerns me more is that he has none of the qualities required to be Celtic manager. The measure of a man is often in not what they say but what they don't say. Take Paul Scholes as an example, a man who did pretty much everything in the club game but was known as the quiet man of football. So when he does speak, normally complete sense, you listen and you'd be right to. With Coyle, he says so much, so often, you kind of think he'd more suited to replacing Graham Norton not Neil Lennon.

Coyle embodies the kind of stinkin' thinkin' you get at these times, normally fuelled by bookies, which has anyone who knows football just scratching their heads. Put simply the one thing that seems to unite the fans on this subject is: We don't want Owen Coyle.

I know there have been moves in other directions. Davie Moyes was contacted indirectly on Saturday in a "if offered, would you take it?" type way whilst another candidate was asked indirectly whether he'd be happy working under a director of football?

The director of football thing interests, assuming it wasn't Peter Lawwell that was meant, this is a road I'd like to see Celtic go down. It has to be said that whilst success in the league and Europe was there, Neil Lennon's choices of backroom staff weren't exactly a huge hit. Alan Thompson's off the field problems and "friends" were his downfall whilst Mjallby was often at odds with the manager. Garry Parker potters about hoping to be under as little spotlight as possible.

The director of football role in Scotland has a stigma attached and as Celtic supporters we shudder at the Dalglish/Barnes fiasco. Of course it has been in operation, quite successfully, at Falkirk for a few years now. It's a road Hearts have gone down and the current Neilsen/Crawford partnership is due to be replaced from within in around 3-4 years. That's the theory of course, football has many variables and it might not work. That being said, Hearts, living within their means for the first time since the 1970's, have no intention of paying off a whole backroom staff one day and then hiring a new one the next ever again.

Celtic have many coaches who have worked away behind the scenes for years now. Guys like Chris McCart, Tommy MacIntyre, Stephen Frail and John Kennedy are in with the bricks now but does anyone see them as manager material? The last main candidate through the ranks that fans clamoured for was Willie McStay, who never had a hope in hell of getting the top job, and has struggled to get a proper foothold in football since, with it unknown where his latest adventure with Celtic Nation will take him.

I think we could steal a march on a lot of teams by laying down now a structure that is for the long term but from a position of strength. I've said it before but for clarity will do so again, for me the guy tailor-made for the role is Gordon Strachan. In a part time job just now, you give him a remit to set up a structure with emphasis on coaches and players rising to the top then that man will be in his element. He doesn't need to deal with the media, which he loathes, he is able to see out a huge passion he has for coaching and making players better and he can be there to lean on for all coaches at the club, including the top one. He can also deal with the Lawwell/Park dynamic which would take the pressure off a new head coach.

And who should be that head coach?

Many people have said to me "You must want Jackie then?" and I've avoided pleading his case for two reasons, the obvious bias and the fact that he doesn't need me to do that for him. What I will say is that Jackie has a lot of the qualities I'd want from our new man. When he took over at Partick Thistle, he did not think players were fit. After an internal study, he got back that what the problem was was the recovery between games wasn't helping. So he brought in people to deal with it, at his own expense, and, well, you see the difference. When he took over at Dundee Utd the players actually weren't fit. The diet was all wrong and lot of the players were not enjoying their football. He was also told their were no young players worth a game and the club would be saddled with debt for decades. The emergence of young players is obvious, but the increase in crowds due to the type of football played has wiped out the debt. Compare that to the £8m debt Hibs are carrying and the £16m Aberdeen are.

So what are the qualities he has? First off, a strong inner belief in what he is doing. There's no bullshit about Jackie and he doesn't get distracted from his goal. He has standards and I like that in a manager, players need to live up to them or find another club. He encourages youth and good football, thinking long term always. Derek McInnes has received plaudits and awards this season but how good has his team actually played? How many times have they hit four or more goals? How long term are his signings?

It is often said that it's "too early" for Jackie but he has far more experience now than Neil Lennon had in the summer of 2010. Hey, it's all about opinions and I just gave you mine.

Speaking of summer 2010, can we not go through the same charade we did back then when appointing a manager? It's obvious to everyone that Neil Lennon caught Celtic on the hop last week (you don't invite a guy you know is leaving on holiday with you) and perhaps it wasn't the best idea for Mr Lawwell to still go on his trip to Lisbon when we sit without a leader. The days of the long summers of 97 and 98 without a manager are long gone and I hope Celtic don't involve themselves in any kind of stage-managed bullshit and just get the job done.

Otherwise even Brian Wilson may go radge at them.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Neil Lennon: Diminishing love

Once all the instant reactions were ploughed through yesterday, the most telling piece of information came from Celtic, not in what they said, but in when they said it. Coming a good five hours after Neil Lennon had announced he was stepping down, this was not the statement-crazy regime we have all come to know. The issuing of a statement is about as low as it gets in terms of PR. Designed to conduct the debate, it often poses more questions than answers but of course is designed to ensure no questions can be asked.

Once Neil Lennon spoke yesterday you can be absolutely assured that all hell broke loose at Celtic Park. "Akin to Wall Street on a bad day" was how it was described to me. So much in the dark were employees that people contacting Celtic on other matters were being asked "Is it true the manager has gone?"

Of course the real question is: Why did the manager go? As far back November 2012, Neil Lennon's mind was drifting. Concerns over the quality of family life were being expressed by his partner, Irene, his son's conditions at school weren't the best and on a trip to Oxford with Garry Parker and his wife, Neil was given a taste of what life could be like outside the goldfish bowl of Glasgow. Whilst the adulation is always there, the abuse remained daily.

It can never be underestimated what Neil Lennon went through to be Celtic manager (although plenty try) and this should never be forgotten either. We live in an era where before it would be newspapers that were tomorrow's fish and chip wrappers, now it's our feelings that move on quicker than a Sevco Chairman.

The other factor is his place within Celtic as manager. Probably the least amount of power a manager has ever had at Celtic, Lennon became increasingly frustrated at decreasingly low budgets and a level of interference that, whilst happening at almost every football club in the world, eventually became the bane of his life. Forget the cosy statements issued or ridiculous notion that Neil Lennon will be involved in the picking of the new manager (I know one candidate who shuddered at that thought), this is a clean break and one that Neil Lennon made up his mind about in January saying that if he didn't get a proper budget to re-build, he was off. 

There were clues of course.

Mjallby leaving, the season ticket literature had no mention of the manager in it, there were the increased appearances in England to build his profile higher and there was the arse covering from Celtic when Samaras let slip that Lennon had wanted to keep him but Peter Lawwell said no.

Ah, Peter Lawwell. A figure who divides more people than a Celtic Park steward. So entrenched are folk's opinions of him that it's impossible to have a proper debate about him in what has surely been his toughest week as 11 years as CEO. The BT/Sevco scandal is not going away and he spent most of yesterday privately seething at Lennon stealing a march on him in terms of releasing the information.

The question most have in terms of Lawwell's power, (the most powerful man by some distance in the day to day world of Scottish football and second only to Dermot Desmond in terms of power in Scottish football full stop) is would any manager worth their salt work with him? The answer is yes. Primarily because Celtic are a huge club, who win leagues, compete in Europe and offer a huge stage. There's also the fact that the days of Alex Ferguson types running everything are over (Ferguson himself was "advised" quite a lot by the Glazers before he left)

With that being said, it is not healthy for a man with no background in football at all to have such an influence on who plays for Celtic (nor is it healthy to have family members also with no background in football acting as scouts for Celtic)

Ultimately though, Neil Lennon had enough of the small budget, enough of players being foisted on him(Bangura, Balde and Gershon were the ones that really drove him mad) and enough of having to toe the party line no matter what he actually felt.

The Joe Ledley transfer summed it up, Joe asking to stay, Neil wanting him to stay and Peter telling both that Ledley was off to Palace. 

Modern football or too much meddling? You can decide but Neil already has. 

Of course Neil Lennon was not without flaws, his record in the cups was pretty dire and it could be argued that the football we wanted to see only really came towards the end of his time at Celtic. 

Typical eh?

As for the new manager, make no mistake that he will be Dermot Desmond's choice. Only two managers have been selected by CEO's at Celtic since Fergus McCann left, John Barnes and Tony Mowbray, so Dermot's hand is firmly on the chicken switch for this one. Which is interesting because last season Dermot actually attended Celtic Park the least in his 20 year involvement with the club.

Meanwhile we supporters sit and wait, what is the new chapter going to bring us? If it was me? I'd be thinking long term about a management team that would be here for a decade. One that understood Celtic and the absolute importance of remaining on top for at least the next seven years.

They are out there.



Monday, May 12, 2014

Green Brigade Anti Discrimination Tournament-Seize the opportunity

As the dust settles on another season, and fans gasp in horror when they realise the World Cup is still a month away, you may be aware of the now annual anti-discrimination tournament organised by The Green Brigade, this year in Royston on June 14th.

I've been a bit out the loop in recent weeks spending most of my time in exam halls, study rooms and Doctor's surgeries as old age catches up with me and just getting to grips with the latest toing and froing about the banner that the GB had at the Inverness Caley game.

Let me say now, let's not get carried away with the sentiment of it (except positively) and for Christ sake can we remember two things, what Ultras do and that Leigh Griffiths is not David Duke.

What often happens any time the GB are mentioned is that folk dig in further and positions get entrenched to the point where the whole of McAlpine's would be needed to dig folk out.

Now, this tournament is a noble idea by the GB and should be supported by as many as possible in the main anyway but this is a huge opportunity for a lot of people to meet face to face, meet minds and start digging themselves out the trenches.

Firstly, I think this is exactly the sort of event that fans who want Leigh Griffiths educated on the origins of Celtic and evil of racism, that could be attended by Griffiths. I saw him last year attend a similar type of event, of his own accord, at Saughton Enclosure in Edinburgh so it's not like he's someone who couldn't care less about these type of events. The message coming out of an event like this is exactly the sort of message we supporters want imprinted in Griffiths mind.

Secondly, I do think this is a chance for Celtic to get people along and get mingling with people away from the stadium and in a more relaxed environment so common ground can be found. Whilst Social Media has many benefits, one of its flaws is it is not a medium for the type of discussion needed to get a proper resolution in a situation like this. Similarly, a number of issues always seem to arise out of behind closed doors meetings at Celtic Park and so a neutral venue would be helpful. Apart from anything else, it would do Celtic good to show support from a fans initiative that didn't come from something at their own behest.

Thirdly, there are clearly some people out there who are what I would describe as serial critics of The Green Brigade. I accept that some do this for their own selfish reasons and that even the promise of a limo to the ground, rub down whilst there and enough blog copy to feed them for a year won't change their minds but if you're someone who has been critical of the GB then surely this tournament offers a chance for you to give a first hand account of what the GB are actually like and help publicise a noble cause?

Which brings me onto the main problem I find with the GB. The message is being drowned out. Asking most people about the GB and most will point to Fir Park, broken seats and plenty other negative untruths that blanket all the great stuff done, the tremendous food bank drive at Christmas being one of them. Similarly, most Celtic fans dealings with the GB come with a visit to Celtic Park and assumptions are built upon this. I've no right to dictate anything to the GB but I know that the only resolution to this is a dedicated section that brings the atmosphere you created back to Celtic Park week in, week out. I also know that I will get criticism for this article from those who have no time for the GB and never have. My answer to that is to be part of a solution that works for all. Inform your opinion by going to the tournament and remembering that we are all Celtic supporters and far more unites us than divides us.

That goes for Leigh Griffiths, Peter Lawwell and all with the power of the pen as well.