IF my political beliefs informed my football preferences I’d probably be supporting Partick Thistle or Albion Rovers. Celtic, the club in which I’ve made a lifetime investment of tens of thousands of pounds and more time and emotion than can ever be rationally explained, would simply not be an option.

Thistle are wholly owned by their supporters, having been gifted the club by the multi-millionaire lottery winner, the late Colin Weir. The aficionados of Albion Rovers have permanent representation on the board and, for a few years one of these, Ronnie Boyd, became club chairman before stepping aside after what he felt was a reasonable stretch behind the mahogany desk.

Both of these clubs don’t merely represent the working-class communities of Maryhill and Coatbridge; they are embedded in them. The task of keeping Albion Rovers afloat from week to week falls to a group of supporters who, to all intents and purposes, have made monastic vows to the club. They forsake all others and subjugate earthly urges to yield to the empty promises of Celtic or Rangers.

Like many other senior football clubs in Scotland, Rovers and Thistle are an intrinsic part of the local community. These clubs help maintain social cohesion in times of profound economic and emotional distress and, as their communities brace for the aftershocks of Covid, they will provide outreach support to the elderly, the vulnerable and the sick in north-west Glasgow and North Lanarkshire.

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Yet, I choose to follow Celtic, the richest, most successful sporting and cultural behemoth in Scotland. Celtic still purports to represent the descendants of famine-ravaged Ireland and for several generations they were the sole source of pride and inspiration for a community that was treated with suspicion and resentment by civic Scotland.

The club now is under the control of an absentee property billionaire and run by a board of directors that’s more right-wing in its political instincts than the Tory 1922 Committee. It comprises an assortment of nodding-dogs who exist solely for the club blazers they get to wear on official occasions or on their free business-class forays into Europe. Its primary commitment now lies in satisfying its fiduciary duties to corporate and private investors. At its AGMs you gain the impression that its officers are revolted by the multitudes who give them support.

In its unbroken, 133-year history it has successfully resisted all attempts by those same supporters to have official representation on the board. The fans, it seems, are tolerated only insofar as they continue to consume over-priced club merchandise and season tickets. So far they have resisted any form of recompense for season-ticket holders who this year paid an average of £550 for a cheap streaming service. A reasonable suggestion by The Celtic Supporters Trust that shares be offered in lieu of compensation has been ignored. Celtic is a capitalist enterprise and we, the supporters, enthusiastically set aside our egalitarian and socialist principles to follow them.

In this, Celtic are no different from the 12 clubs who attempted to establish a European Super League, comprising the richest football ‘brands’ on the planet. Only limitations of scale prevented Celtic seeking to be a part of it. As such, Celtic will try to scrabble onto the coat-tails of a Champions League which is inching towards the Super League model anyway. Only clubs from the five richest leagues in Europe can win this competition. In Scotland an even narrower elitism prevails. Only two clubs can ever win its premier trophy. Short of government intervention to nationalise Scottish football by means of compulsory purchase this won’t ever change.

The attempted coup by football’s super-rich has been in gestation for decades. The era of Thatcherism and Ronald Reagan spawned deregulation and the unhindered passage of easy money. Before then, in football, everyone lived within their means and smaller clubs run by local and trusted purveyors of comestibles and services could compete. In the 1980s Dundee United and Aberdeen shared success with Celtic and Rangers. In the 1950s and early 60s it was Hibs, Hearts and Dundee.

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In Europe, Red Star Belgrade, Ajax and Benfica – as well as Celtic – could be kings for a few years.

Easy money allowed David Murray briefly to glimpse a bigger stage for Rangers and Celtic were forced to follow. The global media companies gathered to feast on football’s vast customer base before retreating when profits couldn’t keep pace with football’s wage inflation. In England, in 1992, and Scotland a few years later the large clubs set about making a bigger cake with fewer slices. The smaller clubs were bought off by bribes known as ‘parachute payments’.

But the pandemic, having made the super-clubs desperate, also made them reckless so that they were unable to camouflage the greed at its core. Covid, though, has also made working people more vigilant of such excesses, for they have lost much more. What we saw this week was a force re-awakening. In less than 48 hours a cartel of global capitalists was brought to its knees by working-class people finding common cause. Even the merest prospect of supporters withdrawing their custom defeated the jackals. The brand loyalty of affluent young supporters in the Far East is meaningless if the football is being played in empty stadiums.

Covid has wrought an entire suite of life-changing dynamics to the human race. The forces of capitalism, having taken an almighty hit, will seek to recoup the losses in the only way it knows how: to control supply chains and the means of production ever more tightly. Football’s Super League proposals were merely the opening salvo. Expect similar attempts at gerrymandering affluence in every other sector.

Supporter ownership of Celtic and other large UK football clubs is long overdue. All that would be required to eject an obnoxious and stubborn board and its replacement by elected representatives is not to renew our season tickets. It’s really that simple. The alternative is to be the willing lap-dogs of capitalism in its most insidious form in the fond belief that we are maintaining our families’ cultural traditions. This week we glimpsed what might be achieved when working-class people unite behind a common purpose of challenging capital.

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