A look at the key topics on the agenda during Celtic’s AGM

By Sports Desk November 22, 2023

Chairman Peter Lawwell presided over Celtic’s annual general meeting on Wednesday afternoon.

The Parkhead club are in a healthy financial situation, having recently announced record annual profits of more than £40million.

Celtic had £72.3m in the bank “net of bank borrowings” on June 30 this year, group revenue was up by more than a third to £120m and the club reported a gain in the transfer market of £14.4m.

Here, the PA news agency looks at some of the main topics which emerged from the meeting at Celtic Park.

On and off-field performances

Lawwell, who returned as chairman at the beginning of the year – after previously being chief executive – was pleased with the financial results. However, amidst general domestic dominance, he also recognised the on-going difficulties Celtic have in Europe. The Hoops sit bottom of their Champions League section with one point from four fixtures including a 6-0 thrashing away to Atletico Madrid, leaving Celtic looking for their first group-stage win since 2017.

Lawwell said: “From a financial perspective it was an exceptional year. A record turnover of £120million, record profit before tax of £41million, a very strong balance sheet and big cash reserves so we have been very satisfied. The fundamentals are very strong. In Europe, it is getting tougher and tougher. There is a financial gap between ourselves and the major European clubs which is getting bigger. But we don’t give up. We competed well at home against Atletico and Lazio. We just have to be more consistent.”

The Green Brigade

Celtic have been at loggerheads with the fans’ group recently, following a string of disputes and flashpoints and the Green Brigade remain suspended from Celtic Park and are not receiving tickets for away matches. Chief executive Michael Nicholson said: “We all want Celtic Park full of Celtic fans supporting the team and (manager) Brendan (Rodgers). That has to be done in a safe way. We have had some concerns about safety in that particular section of the stadium and with that particular group for some time and this season those concerns have escalated. It was not a decision taken lightly but a decision taken for safety.”

Rodgers challenged to keep top players at Celtic

Hoops boss Brendan Rodgers – in his second spell in the Parkhead hot seat – said: “If a player is offered six times more money to go and play elsewhere in a more competitive league or one of the big leagues then that is a challenge for a club like ourselves to keep hold of that player. That is something I struggled with in my first time here but experience and perspective helps me in understanding the climate and challenges a club like Celtic has at the top level. But we have to find a way.”

Who brings in the players?

Rodgers denied he has players foisted upon him as he backs his recruitment team which is headed by Peter Lawwell’s son, Mark Lawwell. He said: “I just want to categorically say none of the players who came in have been pushed on to me. The players have been identified by a fantastic recruitment team. The recruitment team is one of the reasons I came back. I can only vouch for the quality and depth of knowledge that Mark and his team have. We have a profile for each position. They will go out and find that player. I will then decide who comes in – or else it doesn’t work.”

Related items

  • Brendan Rodgers hits out at ‘really poor officiating’ after Celtic defeat Brendan Rodgers hits out at ‘really poor officiating’ after Celtic defeat

    Brendan Rodgers claimed 10-man Celtic’s 2-0 defeat at Hearts was “decided by the officials” as he lamented an early red card for Yang Hyun-jun and the award of the penalty that allowed the hosts to take the lead.

    The Hoops arrived at Tynecastle knowing a victory would have taken them back to the top of the cinch Premiership after title rivals Rangers suffered a shock home loss to Motherwell the previous day.

    Celtic’s chances were undermined in a dramatic opening quarter of an hour when Adam Idah saw a penalty saved by Hearts goalkeeper Zander Clark a few minutes before Yang was sent off for catching Alex Cochrane in the face with a high boot.

    The South Korean was initially yellow-carded before match referee Don Robertson upgraded it to a red after being advised by VAR John Beaton to review the incident on the pitchside monitor.

    Rodgers was further riled when Hearts were awarded a penalty in the 40th minute after a headed clearance from Liam Scales landed on Tomoki Iwata’s arm as he rose to try and head it out of the box. Jorge Grant scored the spot-kick and Lawrence Shankland netted the hosts’ second goal in the 56th minute.

    “My feeling is that the game was decided by the officials, on the field and outside of the field,” said Celtic boss Rodgers.

    “You guys (the media) will know me long enough to know that I don’t really comment on officials – they make mistakes and whatever else – but today that felt like really really poor officiating.

    “The first one is the sending off when there is no force. Show a still image of that and of course you will see a foot up with the head near it, but it’s not the reality of the move.

    “Don Robertson actually got it right on the field. It was a high boot, so it’s a yellow card – no malice or force.

    “For John Beaton to actually look at that in VAR, supposedly under no pressure, and say that was a sending off, I find that incredible.

    “The second one (Hearts’ penalty) is worse. If you have a penalty go against you for that then there will be penalties every single weekend and midweek.

    “I don’t know what he (Iwata) is supposed to do. Tomo is jumping, he got a nudge, he is coming down, the ball falls on to his arm and there is no intention to move.

    “Then you get the penalty against and he gets the chance to look at it and see it. That really left us with an uphill task in the game but credit to my players, they kept going, their keeper has made a few good saves.

    “But it was a poor day for the officials. I try to respect decisions and give the benefit of the doubt, but when I see that level of incompetence, which is the only word I can use, then that makes me worry for the game.

    “In such a tight title race – which it is, and it’s fantastic to be involved in – that can make the difference. And that today made the difference for us.”

    Hearts boss Steven Naismith insisted his team deserved their victory and felt both sides were on the receiving end of “soft” penalty awards.

    “It was an entertaining game and one I think we deserved to win,” he said.

    “There were a lot of action points. Throughout the game at the right times, we played, controlled the game and asked Celtic some questions. I think both penalties are soft.

    “Alex puts his foot on the ground and the Celtic forward is the one that kicks him. Ours is this handball rule that nobody is happy with. And I think the red card is a red card.”

    Asked if the two debatable penalties effectively cancelled each other out in terms of controversy, Naismith said: “We saved their penalty and scored the one we got.

    “Both teams can feel that they were soft but overall we deserved our win comfortably. It was two and it could have been more.”

  • Yang Hyun-jun red card proves costly as Celtic go down at Hearts Yang Hyun-jun red card proves costly as Celtic go down at Hearts

    Hearts profited from Yang Hyun-jun’s early red card to inflict a second 2-0 defeat on title-chasing Celtic within the space of three months in an incident-packed cinch Premiership showdown at Tynecastle.

    The Hoops arrived in Edinburgh knowing a victory would have taken them back to the top of the league after city rivals Rangers suffered a surprise 2-1 loss at home to Motherwell the previous day.

    But their hopes of achieving this feat were badly undermined during a dramatic opening quarter of an hour in which their striker Adam Idah had a penalty saved by Zander Clark and then Yang saw red for a dangerous high challenge on Alex Cochrane.

    Hearts – who defeated Brendan Rodgers’ side in Glasgow in mid-December – took full advantage of the extra man as Jorge Grant scored a penalty late in the first half before Lawrence Shankland struck his 27th goal of the season on a day when Scotland manager Steve Clarke and assistant John Carver were watching from the Tynecastle stand.

    The victory moved the Jambos 13 points clear in third place.

    Hearts made four changes to the team that started Wednesday’s 1-1 draw at home to city rivals Hibernian as Toby Sibbick, Dexter Lembikisa, Grant and Beni Baningime replaced Frankie Kent, Nathaniel Atkinson, Cammy Devlin and Kenneth Vargas.

    There was one enforced alteration to the Celtic team that started the 7-1 midweek destruction of Dundee as captain Callum McGregor missed out with an Achilles issue. His place in midfield was taken by Paulo Bernardo.

    Hearts made a bright start and they had a good chance in the eighth minute when Shankland’s cross from the right picked out Cochrane just inside the box but the left-wing-back got his shot all wrong and fluffed it well wide.

    Then came a couple of huge moments in quick succession in which Celtic allowed the game to swing heavily in the hosts’ favour.

    The Hoops were awarded a penalty in the 11th minute when Cochrane was deemed to have fouled Yang but Idah saw his low-struck spot-kick saved by the legs of Clark, another Hearts player looking to impress the Scotland management team in the lead-up to this summer’s European Championships.

    Yang and Cochrane were again involved in the next major flashpoint just a few minutes later when the Korean midfielder caught the Englishman in the face with a high foot.

    Referee Don Robertson booked the Celtic player initially but then upgraded it to a red card after being advised by VAR John Beaton to review the incident on the pitchside monitor.

    This dramatic turn of events roused the home support and left Rodgers’ side facing a huge task in their quest to return to the top of the league.

    Despite being a man down, Celtic did have the ball in the net in the 22nd minute when Bernardo’s low angled shot went in off both posts but the flag instantly went up to cut short the celebrations, with Idah offside in the lead-up.

    Hearts sensed their chance of victory, however, and Alan Forrest headed over from Lembikisa cross’s in the 27th minute before Shankland was denied by Liam Scales’ brilliant goal-saving challenge.

    Another big call went the way of Hearts in the 40th minute when – following a lengthy VAR review – they were awarded a penalty after the ball came down on to the arm of Tomoki Iwata as he rose amid a cluster of bodies to try and head the ball out of his box. Grant kept his cool to send Joe Hart the wrong way.

    Hearts thought they had doubled their lead in first-half stoppage time when Shankland drilled home a low angled shot from eight yards out after being fed by a Forrest pass but the goal was eventually ruled out for offside following a lengthy VAR review.

    Celtic sent on Kyogo Furuhashi in place of Bernardo for the start of the second half. But the Hoops found themselves two down in the 56th minute when Shankland swept home a clinical low strike from 15 yards out after team-mate Calem Nieuwenhof slipped while lining up a shot and inadvertently knocked the ball back into the striker’s path with the aid of a nick off Celtic left-back Greg Taylor.

    The visitors were unable to summon a response and Hearts saw out victory in impressive fashion, sparking jubilant full-time scenes at Tynecastle.

  • Axel Disasi admits Brentford draw was two points dropped for Chelsea Axel Disasi admits Brentford draw was two points dropped for Chelsea

    Axel Disasi admitted Chelsea’s 2-2 draw at west London rivals Brentford was two points dropped.

    Defender Disasi’s late header secured a point for the Blues, who led through Nicolas Jackson’s first-half goal but then trailed to strikes from Mads Roerslev and Yoanne Wissa.

    It was another unconvincing display from Chelsea and one that prompted the away fans to turn on head coach Mauricio Pochettino for the first time.

    “To be honest we are left frustrated. I think in the first half we deserve to score maybe one goal more,” Disasi told the club website.

    “Then after half time they pushed and we have to do better because we lost two points. I think we had the quality to win the game, so the feeling is a little bit sad.

    “I’m happy to score and we didn’t lose because of this goal, that is good. But it would be a much better feeling if this goal was for the win. It was not the case but hopefully will be in the future.”

    Wissa scored a spectacular overhead kick which the DR Congo international admitted was the best of his career – despite some stiff competition.

    “This is the best one,” he said. “If I have to compare it, a goal against Oldham (in September 2021). But this is better because this is the Premier League against this kind of team.

    “Especially in this time – it’s not an easy time for every fan and player – it means a lot to me, especially after coming back from AFCON.

    “In the second half we gave only one and a half chances away. The second half was much better.

    “Everyone stepped up their level and the crowd was with us. This is how we want it, this is how Brentford play. It means a lot for the team. I’m very happy with that.

    “It came from the players. This is what we wanted, some personality.”

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