Today I spoke to someone I know at Celtic, someone with a good claim to being a true insider, and they told me something fascinating, in light of some of what I posted earlier in the week about Ryan Christie’s departure from the club.
I wrote an article on transfer deadline day pointing out that there was really no argument that could be maintained about Christie having left Parkhead for “footballing reasons” and I suggested that he might have been very badly advised.
My friend at Celtic as good as confirmed that, but they went even further; I was told that the mood inside Celtic in relation to Christie’s decision was one of shock. I’m told that on the night of the AZ game that most people within Celtic believed that Christie was about to sign a new deal with the club. A deal which would have made him a top earner.
I’m told that Celtic had made keeping the player an absolute priority, and that Ange was fully signed off on using a chunk of the budget to secure him at Parkhead for the next couple of years. I’m told that Christie was on the brink of signing that deal.
So what went wrong? According to my friend, what happened was that Bournemouth offered him a considerable signing on fee and that it was this “money in the hand” offer which swung the deal. I’m told that wages were not part of the issue; indeed, Celtic’s offer came close to, if not matched, what the Championship club had put on the table.
But it was that guarantee of a big sum up front which apparently swung the deal.
Celtic really did believe that they had gotten this done, and that Christie would be at the club for a good while longer. Ange feels let down. McKay feels let down, and especially by the timing, with things going to the wire on the very last day.
When Celtic realised that the gig was up, it became about realising a fee for him and all involved at Parkhead should get great credit for the way they were able to do that.
The one thing Ryan Christie did in our favour was that he refused to sign a pre-contract deal with the English side, which meant we were in a position to ask for money.
We shouldn’t hold any grudges over this. Ryan gave Celtic good service, right up to the end, and his stance made sure that we got a transfer fee. There’s no bitterness or anger here, but disappointment more than anything else and I get the impression the club isn’t pissed at Ryan as much as it is angry with his “representation”.
Everyone here is on a new page. Celtic has moved forward and Ryan Christie has moved on. But I wonder if it’s a move he’ll come to regret in spite of his laugh-out-loud assertion that he has always had a place in his heart for the English sea-side club.
Regardless, from what I’m led to believe Celtic’s hierarchy are very frustrated that it ended how it did. Their efforts to keep Ryan at Parkhead were real, rubber stamped by a manager who rated him highly and would have wanted him to stay.