champions league


Well done Barca. I was absolutely delighted to see Chelsea lose yesterday. It was about negative football against positive football. It was also about different modes of organisation and guess what – the good guys won [dodgy decisions aside].

When I am asked what team I support I obviously say Celtic. When asked what other teams I like I usually use the old joke ‘Celtic reserves’ although nowadays that should be Celtic under 21s I suppose. Most Scottish supporters are the same about their clubs. This is in marked contrast to somewhere like Italy where people support their local team but will also choose one of Milan, Juve or Inter to support.

However, I have a soft spot for Barcelona for a few different reasons.

• One of their managers [Jack Greenwell, 1917-24] shares the same name as me and may be a distant relation as he comes from the same neck of the woods as one of my grandfathers [long dead so I can’t ask him – we also have a Champions League/European cup winner in the family but he is a very distant relation from me and I have never met him].

• I like the way they usually play an attacking and exciting style of football.

• There is a similarity with the Catalan political situation and that of Celtic with the Irish-English Scottish-English problems.

• They succeed despite the best efforts of the establishment in the state they currently play in.

But in particular, I like the way that the club is organised. Yes, they have overpaid, spoilt idiots running about on the pitch like every other big team but it is a team that is owned by the fans and the president of the club is decided by an election.

This leads to something like them having UNICEF on their shirt and actually PAYING UNICEF for the privilege and giving them other money besides.

This is what I have always wanted Celtic to be like. The fans of Celtic see it as a community. We all feel that our club is different from others. From the history and the beginnings as a charitable organisation, the way the fans behave and the way people rally round when we lose one of our own – it is a very special thing for us.

But I think I am not the only one with whom it rankles that our club is run by some pretty ruthless people. I am fairly sure that John Reid would not have been appointed chairman if the fans had a vote. It made me fairly annoyed that when I was watching the otherwise fairly good Official History that the club recently produced that in the early part of it they seemed to be trying their best to shoehorn the words ‘business acumen’ or similar in so much that it sounded like a New Labour party political.

Some Celtic fans have shares in the club but about the most they get for it is better opportunities to spend money and the chance to have a question fudged at the AGM. Recent efforts to have fans representatives on the board have been rebuffed.

Unfortunately the way the club is currently run means that a system like Barcelona’s is a long way off for Celtic but it is something that the fans should be shooting for.

One look at Barca will show you that there is more than one way to run a club and that a community or supporter controlled model is no barrier to success.

It was reported yesterday that the fans of Stirling Albion are trying to buy the club at a price of 40 quid each. I dearly hope they succeed. If they do, I might change my second [well ok, third] team to Stirling Albion.

And well done again Barcelona – truly more than a football team.