Last week, the Ibrox club made it known that John Park is now working for them. I wrote a piece on that where I pointed out that our fans would not be losing sleep over it.
Today Keevins has written about it in his column; he seems to think it’s a masterstroke.
But once again, this betrays a fundamental misunderstanding as to how our transfer systems have worked.
Park last worked for Celtic six years ago.
Our recent transfer successes do not suggest that his absence has had any sort of detrimental effect on our ability to unearth quality players.
Everyone who talks about Park talks only about his success stories. But there’s an analogy which I want to share with you which sums up what it is that Celtic did under Park, and which will help you understand why Ibrox doing the same thing is not feasible.
There is an exceptional show on Discovery called Gold Rush.
In season one it follows the story of a family from Oregon, the Hoffman’s, as they uproot and with their friends in tow head to Alaska to mine for gold.
Over the course of the dozen or so seasons – and counting – we follow not only their exploits but those of other gold miners; the teenage kid Parker Schnabel, who learned the business from his legendry grandfather John; the “Viking” Tony Beats, one of the most respected men in the Klondike; expert miner Freddy Dodge and others.
And as we get to know them we get to know the business too. And gold mining is a lucrative trade when it’s being done right, but it has more than a little potential for disaster as some of the teams find out when their grandiose plans come to nothing.
Because gold mining at their level is expensive, and very hit and miss. It involves moving earth in enormous quantities – thousands of yards – just to net a few ounces of the good stuff. Enormous wash plants separate gold concentrate from acres of dirt.
Huge machinery, trucks, excavators, loaders and diggers, run through gallons of fuel every day … whether the operation is “on the gold” or not.
Success brings huge rewards – 3000 ounce seasons, worth millions of dollars – can be achieved. Equally, the teams can (and some do) lose everything.
And that’s what our transfer policy under John Park was like. Our club spent a lot of money chasing that handful of gold plated signings, and we had built a vast scouting network to find players in the first place. It was expensive to run, and a lot of people inside and outside the club questioned the wisdom of it more than once.
The machine we built caught gold. There is no doubt about that. But we spent fortunes to do it, and although our successes have been notable, when you look at them in comparison to the number of players we’ve signed they’ve also been rare.
As with gold mining, you have to sift through a lot of dirt to find the value. For every eight or so players you might find one with a potential high re-sale value. In the meantime, you are stuck with the other seven on your books … and we play in Scotland, where clubs don’t make enough money to be able to afford that for very long.
Ibrox cannot afford an operation like that. They bring Park in and he can give them the blueprint, but I’ve watched enough Gold Rush to understand the blueprint of a mining operation too. Unfortunately, I don’t have the nearly £1 million in start-up cash, or the contacts, to get one up and running, far less to fund it every day until it starts paying off.
And that’s the situation over there too. They can bring in whoever they like, but unless they surround this guy with the right equipment and give him the right funding all they are doing is sifting through dirt. Which is not dissimilar to what they’ve been doing for the last couple of years.
They simply do not get that what Celtic has done is not the result of voodoo or magic or the Unseen Fenian Hand … it involves building an infrastructure, spending big money and being willing, and able, to move tons of earth just to uncover every ounce of gold.
They don’t have the cash to even start a job like that, far less to sustain it until they hit the jackpot, and their fans don’t have that kind of patience either. Two of their signings so far are 28 years old and will have no re-sale value whatsoever.
That’s a jam today transfer policy if ever I’ve seen one.
The season just past was outstanding … but how well do you know it? Take the quiz, go up against your mates, and see who gets the highest score on Celtic’s 2021-22 campaign.