What Do The English Media Have Against Hearing The Truth About The Size Of Celtic?

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Brendan is taking a bit of stick again today, in various places, about his comments yesterday where he pointed out that with the size of our club we’d be a top four club in the EPL. Are those comments a little on the optimistic side?

Yes, but only in terms of where we are right now.

Give us access to their TV pool and we’re up there almost at once.

There is an incredible reticence down south to accept this simple fact. It manifests itself in the contemptuous sneering about the quality of the league up here, and in sheer stone stupidity like some of what creeps out on the more idiotic click-bait blogs. One this morning has “disproved” the thesis by simulating it in Football Manager.

I mean for God’s sake.

During my current career game, I started at Manchester United, moved to Real Madrid then Milan and back to England with Arsenal before Parkhead beckoned. I arrived at Celtic twelve years in, but there was nothing left to prove there; Brendan had moved on after leading us to sixteen or so in a row … and he’d won the Champions League. From the SPL. What does it mean? Not one thing, and that someone thinks it does … pathetic.

But this isn’t confined to some of the more numbing bloggers.

English media personalities genuinely get angry over this idea, as if it’s a slight on their own league. I can never wrap my head around it. There are a handful of teams in the EPL who could stand toe-to-toe with the genuine giants of Europe. And there are others which are almost wholly pumped up by sugar-daddy money. They aren’t football clubs any more as much as brands. A team sacked its manager not that long ago in spite of having put together a fairy-tale title win last season.

The league’s priorities are skewed. Clubs are owned by men with no love for the game.

Yet it’s the notion of Celtic being a huge club they find offensive.

Celtic could stand tall with Manchester United and Liverpool, the two true global giants of the Premiership. Spurs, Arsenal, Chelsea and a handful of others have done amazing things – with money behind them – in recent years. Don’t even get me started on Manchester City.

Celtic is a club with a mythical quality; Manchester City are a Fantasy Football Team, like somebody decided to play with one of those Football Manager cheats which makes the club incredibly wealthy, only in the real world. It’s an artificial construct, like Rangers was.

See, I’m generally ambivalent about the whole “Celtic in the EPL” idea.

Do I want Celtic to be the biggest club they can be? To achieve things on that bigger stage, of Europe? Yes, of course I do. But I would not want us to do it from that particular league because there’s a lot wrong down there. I wonder if proximity to that kind of money could be anything other than bad.

I watched a documentary about Man City recently, and I heard one of their commercial directors talk about how important it was to keep the fans on board with the club, and to keep them grounded in the community instead of fully morphing into the team that was able to hire Guardiola and afford all these amazing players and I wonder how successful that will be, or if it’s even possible. They’ve gone from being a small club on the fringes to being a European power in a handful of years; you would get vertigo just thinking about that.

It wouldn’t feel real somehow.

Yesterday I stood outside Celtic Park after the game, and I looked at the frontage and I felt like I was part of it, and what Celtic has grown into. I am going to write a big piece on that idea later, but it’s permissible, I think, to feel that way about your club when the money you and those around you spend, when the time and attention you put it into being a fan, is what’s built it or helped to … I don’t know how you could feel the same way about something that was run on the basis of easy money and someone else’s cheque book.

Celtic has grown to become this. We’ve struggled and fought and that fight isn’t over. It’s an evolution, a process, and even without the enormity of the EPL TV pool we are a true giant of world football, able to stand, reputationaly, with the best their league has. I was watching WrestleMania 33, from Florida, last night – guilty as charged, okay? – and there, right at the front, at the centre of the ring, was a guy in a Celtic shirt.

I looked but saw no Manchester City or United tops.

Again, it doesn’t prove anything, but any Celtic fan who ever went to the North American Convention or to one of the European ones knows what our reach is. You can find a Celtic club in just about any city in the world, and I know this is difficult for the EPL media to accept. It remains a fact nonetheless.

Our club, playing in this relative football backwater, sells upwards of 40,000 season tickets, which is an incredible accomplishment and only one indicator of our size. But we’re also exceptionally well run, with a balance sheet that really would be the envy of every club down there if only they understood that having fortunes and spending it as fast as they earn it isn’t the way to run things.

Give us access to the money those other teams have and our growth would be such that we would, very quickly, establish ourselves as a top four team, just as Brendan has said. The resistance to this idea makes no sense whatsoever, and I can only think it’s a product of EPL arrogance.

With our club’s history, its foundation story, its global fan-base and the atmosphere generated at the ground – which has impressed the best players on the planet – there’s no question that we are already a huge club, even without all that glitz and glamour. Money will not turn Hull City or Stoke or West Brom into what we are; give us the same exposure and cash as those sides and they simply wouldn’t be at the races.

Some of those clubs wanted Brendan for a manager.

They never stood a chance after we entered the race.

What a lot of these media folk don’t like to admit is that we’re a huge draw, and that fact proves that the whole football world doesn’t revolve around their league. Celtic remains a part of the bigger picture, and a very substantial, and significant, part of it in spite of their best efforts to talk us down.

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