Posted on Saturday, 5th January 2013 by admin
Our writer Alastair Moncrieff poses an interesting question – Are Celtic still a Big Club? Read on for his conclusions.
As Celtic supporters we’ve lived through some interesting times, we have witnessed unprecedented triumphs, heart-breaking failure, and periods of mind numbing monotony. Through it all though there has been one constant, something wholly irrelevant to what occurs on the green grass of ‘paradise’, Celtic have always been a ‘massive’ club.
On the face of it the question on which I’m basing this article is ridiculous, of course Celtic are still a big club, look at the size of the stadium, look at the global reach of the ‘brand’. Attendances may be dwindling (for various reasons) but 99% of clubs would kill for a matchday going support the size of ours.
The thing is my friends; football has changed, possibly beyond all recognition and probably irrevocably. The parameters upon which the size of a club is judged have shifted. And stuck in the financial black hole that is the SPL we just don’t measure up any more.
There’s a good chance that by now you’ve stopped reading and are directing a volley of abuse my way via the comments or twitter (bring it on!) but if anyone’s still here I’ll try and illustrate my point a little.
It, of course, all comes down to money, and more specifically ‘moneyball’.
For those not familiar with the concept it’s basically the ‘buy ‘em cheap’ (and young) and ‘sell ‘em high’ policy that we’ve implemented (successfully) in recent years.
Now I have no problem with ‘moneyball’ (except the stupid American name) and it is without doubt the only viable path for us to take. It has allowed us to build a talented and vibrant side, capable of producing moments of genuine quality. That the search for unearthed talent has by necessity been extended far and wide, has meant that we have had the pleasure of watching players who previously would have remained well off our radar. If we weren’t actively looking for players we could eventually move on for a tidy profit, then guys like Wanyama, Kayal, Izaguirre and so on would never have pulled on the hoops, the risk of them not adapting to Scottish ‘fitba’ would have been too great to justify the outlay. Instead we’d have ended up with less talented, older and more expensive recruits, probably sourced from the lower reaches of the English Premier League.
So like I said it’s the way to go, it makes sense on the balance sheet and on the football pitch. But here’s what’s concerning me, here’s what forced me to ask the question at the start of this piece. Our transfer policy places us squarely in the realm of ‘selling club,’ and if we are a selling club, then surely that precludes us from describing ourselves as a ’big club’.
I can tell you’re not convinced, so in an effort to persuade you, I present to you the case of Gary Hooper. In my personal opinion Hooper is one of the most talented players I’ve ever seen at Celtic Park, his movement, his touch and his composure mean that, for me anyway, he could play at almost any level (incidentally I don’t think he will because he’s a fat bastard and his attitude is, at best, questionable). Now even those of you who don’t think Hooper’s ‘all that’ would surely agree that he is one of the jewels in our crown. Hooper is the epitome of ‘moneyball’, he was brought to the club (relatively) young and cheap, the intention was always to nurture his undoubted talent and move him on. The player himself would have been perfectly aware of this; the move to Glasgow was always intended as a stepping stone. The issue here is where his next step will take him.
If the recent transfer chatter is to be believed (and that’s a big if I admit) then our top striker will not be leaving us for one of football’s giants (I really don’t buy the Juve rumour), he won’t be leaving us for regular jaunts into Europe and to challenge for trophies, no one of our best players will be heading out the door with only the prospect of, at best, English Premier League mid-table mediocrity ahead of him.
What this essentially means, is that due to the stark difference in the financial landscape either side of Hadrian’s Wall, going from Celtic to a team like Norwich or Southampton is now seen as a ‘step up’.
If that is the case, and I strongly believe it is, can we really consider ourselves a ‘big club’? I would argue no.
There is of course a caveat to all this, if Celtic ever gain access to the wealth of the EPL then we would soon dwarf just about every other club on the planet. Let’s be honest though, no matter how hard Peter Lawell rubs his magic lamp, there’s very little chance of a genie popping up and granting us that particular wish.
If you feel like arguing/abusing/praising leave a comment or get me on twitter https://twitter.com/allymonc I will always get back to you (eventually)