The news, at the end of last week, that Celtic had resubmitted its plans for our hotel and museum complex tell us all a couple of things that are fairly important to know.
The first is that our club has come through the last few months far better than some would have guessed.
This is in no small part due to the fans. Season ticket sales have been excellent.
Merchandising has been boosted by the new kit deal. The supporters have supported. They’ve put their hands in their pockets in ever greater numbers, even though many of them might not see the inside of a stadium for a long time. They know what this season means.
The second thing is that Celtic is moving forward.
Celtic is not being derailed by the global health crisis.
We are advancing, in everything we do. This is a particularly important project to us.
It is important because it has us looking to the future. It is an investment. And it is potentially lucrative.
A hotel won’t make us a Manchester City style fortune, but it is a decent option for us to explore.
It will lift our income permanently.
It will give fans who live outside of Glasgow new options.
It will help boost tourism around the area of the stadium.
Tourists who want to stay within the arc of Celtic Park are more likely to spend money in the shops, visit the restaurants and look around the museum which is being built alongside the hotel.
This is good stuff, and it will have an impact on the football club too.
This, in short, is the sort of project David Murray dreamed of putting in place at Ibrox but never could. Like with everything else, part of Murray’s scheme involved spending other people’s money instead of his own. We will be mostly funding this ourselves.
This is not some flight of fancy, or public relations stunt. It is a serious endeavour, costed and well thought out.
And that’s what’s important here. Celtic is building something big. Projects like this must scare the Hell out of Sevco fans, as they once worried us when it seemed that Murray might be serious and have the wherewithal to pull some of this stuff off.
I spoke to people on the council at the time he was putting his own hotel idea out there.
As usual, he was blustering.
His project was fantastical; it came with a floating pitch, a retractable roof and a casino. I mean, talk about over-reach.
Yet you never stopped thinking “maybe …” because this guy was good at getting other people to part with cash, and he blustered so much that you didn’t see how he could fail and not look like a fool.
That was giving our media more credit than it deserved though.
Murray didn’t really have the ability to do any of it.
The media reported blatant fiction because they, like the Ibrox supporters, wanted to believe it.
Celtic does not bluster or bullshit. Our goals are more attainable because they are grounded and realistic. None of that should detract from how ambitious they are, nor of the likely consequences should we manage to pull this stuff off.
Our goal is nothing less than total dominance here in Scotland, setting us up for a future when European leagues are the norm. We want to have everything in place to be taken seriously at that level. That our total command of the landscape here would reduce Sevco to an utter irrelevance on that grander stage hardly needs pointing out.
We want to leave them behind. We are going to.
This is another step – a decisive step – towards making our advantage permanent.
Sevco cannot cope as it is. Our ten thousand extra seats are worth millions more in income every year from season ticket sales, and we have the opportunity to increase our capacity further if circumstances change and give us the level of opposition which would justify it.
As Sevco continues to shrink into a smaller and smaller base of support, as they continue to limit their audience in the wider world, Celtic continues to grow. This is the real difference between the clubs; we are open and inclusive and they are not.
This is why the gap exists. Celtic wants to widen it.
Sevco has no idea how to claw back from where things stand right now.
They have no chance of doing it if these kind of ideas come off.
We are miles ahead of that club on and off the pitch.
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