For years there have been murmurings about why Celtic and Sevco should desert the top tier of Scottish football and head south to compete in the ultra-competitive English Premier League.
Each and every time the suggestion has been repelled by the football authorities and ridiculed by those who feel neither club would fare well in the English top flight. And since Sevco’s incredible fall from grace and subsequent resurrection, the proposition and debate has gone eerily silent.
However, after watching his Hoops team steamroller Hearts 5-0 at Tynecastle to secure Celtic’s sixth title in a row and 48th overall, Brendan Rodgers reopened the old argument by suggesting to Sky Sports that his team would comfortably finish in the top-six of English football’s Premier League: “This is one of the great iconic clubs in the world, so there is no doubt that with this group we could go in [there and compete]. Imagine the backing then. Celtic would be one of the minimum top four, top six clubs in the English Premier League and then that puts you on a different level altogether.”
Had Brendan supped too much champagne on Sunday afternoon having just secured his first title triumph as a manager, or does he make a valid point? Let’s look at the evidence.
The Bhoys wrapped up this season’s Scottish Premiership title with eight matches still to play. Closest rivals Aberdeen, who finished the previous two campaigns as runners-up, look likely to beat Sevco to another second-placed league finish but are currently a massive 23 points behind the Champions. So have they outgrown the Scottish Premiership?
Possibly, given the plentiful resources available to them in comparison to their opponents and the size of their fanbase. But then Celtic aren’t the only club in Europe guilty of dominating their division on an annual basis, Bayern Munich and Paris St-Germain anyone? With Sevco back in the top tier of Scottish football after an absence of four seasons, it was never going to be a season where the Glasgow rivals battled it out to see who came out on top. Sevco, depending on how much money they truly possess, is a club in transition and it may take a number of years before they have a squad capable of competing with Celtic’s.
But if the English authorities did open their wealthy doors to a club like Celtic, how would the Hoops fare against the rest of the Premier League and the top-six in particular? Well in terms of stadia they have one of the biggest and best in the United Kingdom and have shown in the Champions League that ‘Paradise’ can be a place to be reckoned with, Barcelona and Manchester United just a couple of the big names to fall foul of the famous ‘green and white’ atmosphere in recent times. Away days could present more of an issue, however, with Celtic having failed to win an away match in the Champions League proper since 2012 against opposition quite often of a poorer standard than a number of teams competing in the Premier League.
An increase in prize and television money certainly wouldn’t hurt in helping to attract more of the game’s big stars. What player wouldn’t be attracted to playing in front of 60,000 screaming Hoops fans every other week in the Premier League? But competing with the ‘big six’ clubs would take time and money and lots of it. Celtic certainly wouldn’t be one of the bookmakers favourites in the many markets on Premier League betting. Likewise they wouldn’t attract odds as far out as Leicester City’s 5000/1 when they caused the greatest-ever shock in winning last season’s title. They would more likely fetch a price of around 50/1, comparable to another team currently looking to break into the top-six, Everton.
At the moment Celtic dominate north of the border and are, subject to qualifying rounds, guaranteed Champions League football every season. A move south is unlikely ever to unfold and perhaps in the interests of their glorious history it is better it doesn’t. The old lyrics ‘Que Sera Sera’ come to mind!
Chris qualified from the University of Brighton in 2007 with a degree in Sports Journalism and is a sports fanatic, spending pretty much all his money following the Welsh football team all over Europe (and yes spending five weeks on tour with Wales in France at Euro 2016). He has written for numerous websites and has two fully published football biographies to his name. Chris also enjoys rugby union, cycling and darts and enjoys a regular (okay daily!) punt on football.