The “Celtic-City” Thing Was A Cringey Delusion. Now It’s A Cringey Dangerous Delusion.

Image for The “Celtic-City” Thing Was A Cringey Delusion. Now It’s A Cringey Dangerous Delusion.

For many people, the Champions League Final will be a contest between two sides with which they have no relationship or connection. It will be a match for the neutral. Yet, for many of us the idea of viewing it through that prism is crazy. I’m one of those people. I cannot, for the life of me, pretend to view this match as a neutral; in a very real sense, I think we have “skin in the game.”

For a lot of people inside the club that is doubly true.

They proudly boast of the “Celtic-City” connection as though this was a real thing and not simply the product of over-indulgent imaginations. Certainly, this is something a lot of folk at our club seem incredibly happy to promote, and having “gotten” our last manager from The City Group we may be about to do it again.

This ought be the point where this mad fantasy, this delusion which has, up until now merely been somewhat cringey, morphs into something truly dangerous. This is why I cannot, and will not, sit and watch tomorrow’s final as a neutral observer.

On the contrary; I will be watching it in a Tenerife Irish bar, wearing my Hoops, and cheering on Inter Milan. I think it’s important for European football that the bloated EPL does not get to boast of two triumphs in continental competition this season and whilst I hold out no hope that an Inter win is anything more than a temporary triumph and the putting off a day which seems to be grimly inevitable I think the longer it is delayed the better … especially as City might feel that this is their last chance fo a while with a raft of sanctions about to come down.

The “Celtic-City connection” is a bad dream which has lingered too long. The so-called benefits of it are debatable at best.

We no longer take their players on loan, and nor should we. The idea that we “got” our last manager from there is a pure fantasy; it suggests that we would not have been able to do so had we not known people in their structure, as though he would have been somehow out of reach otherwise. Likewise with the players; perhaps Ange knew Asia better than the club did, but that’s a failing of ours which has surely been corrected now … and none of those benefits were derived from our alleged “special relationship” with their club.

Likewise with this knowledge we’ve gleaned about scouting and analytics; did we not possess this knowledge before? Was there some barrier to us acquiring it which proximity to their club offers us? Once you conclude that the answer to that question is no, then what possible reason could people inside Celtic have for punting this absolute nonsense?

We are not a part of the City Group of clubs, and I don’t see how it would benefit us if we were. Their structure is blatantly, and quite deliberately, pushing the boundaries of UEFA joint ownership regulations and to pretend otherwise is frankly nonsensical. Every one of their clubs acts as an unofficial feeder for the big one in Manchester … and one day UEFA is going to properly investigate the movement of players between those clubs and they will unpick the lot of it.

Even if you were willing to ignore all that, there’s the status of the City Group itself. The whole organisation is nothing but a sports washing plaything for a ruthless and vicious petro-state and I am appalled that anyone at Celtic can think cosying up to them is a good idea, or reflects well on us in any way, shape or form. It’s unconscionable.

As a symbol of artificial status and the grotesque effects of big money in the sport their only rival is the bloated league they come from and which they’ve won five times out of the last six; if they are capable of serving any function it might be to reduce that league’s global image as it more and more starts to look like the kind of one horse race we’re always told should embarrass Scotland.

Finally, and let’s not beat about the bush here, they stand accused of a litany of offences and charges in relation to their finances … I cannot put it more simply than this; their sins are not that much different to those which utterly destroyed OldCo Rangers and if I was a supporter of another club in that league I would want them to suffer the maximum penalties for every single one of those offences whether that’s points deductions, relegations or title stripping.

This is not a club we have the slightest thing in common with. Sports-washing owners, corrupt practices, the bending of rules, financial sleight of hand … they remind me of another team, one that doesn’t play that far from Celtic Park.

And yet it’s this ludicrous link which is being used in partial explanation for why we might want to hire Maresca as our next boss. It’s as if this employment with that organisation has made him somehow more credible, although if we were considering hiring a mere coach with 14 games of management experience (and disastrous at that) from any other club there would have been a large scale social media melt-down from across Celtic cyberspace.

Yet I’ve seen sites trying to glitter this up because of “the things he must have learned” from working in and around the Great Guardiola. I have just one question in that regard; City owns a dozen clubs all over the world. If he’s that good why would they be so sanguine about letting him go? Wouldn’t they be putting him in situ at one of those other clubs where they could monitor his progress properly and work him steadily towards the top job itself?

They haven’t done that, and that should concern everyone who is promoting this mad idea. It’s as if saying he works at The City Group is supposed to act as a magical spell to blind us to the risks of going down this road, this lazy, unimaginative road which should, if it happens, be the final indictment of this board of directors who gambled last time, got away with it and where some evidently drew the wrong lessons entirely from that and are ready to go again.

The City Group. It’s as if you are supposed to say it in a low, respectful voice, the way daisy fresh law students speak of their profession as though it were some hallowed field of endeavour. But in fact, it’s one super-club and a number of smaller ones … and the super-club looks as if it might well be built on the kind of financial doping and illegitimacy which Ibrox could only dream of, and I hope that if they are guilty that they suffer the highest penalties available.

Either way, I’m cheering on Inter Milan tomorrow night, wearing my Hoops lest any “neutral” get the idea that I’m on the other side of the fence. I suspect others will do the same.

Share this article


  • S Thomas says:

    I will be supporting the great Manchester city.. why anyone would support a team from Italy, when Manchester is just down the road is beyond me. James do you always have to bring politics and other things in to football. Man City are a phenomenal side and they deserve to be European champions, I think you have a chip on your shoulder, you certainly do with Ange leaving. Give yourself a break man, Man city are a brilliant football side, and they deserve to be champions. I think you have a chip on your shoulder about England as well, get a grip and just enjoy the match like everybody else.

    • Johnny Green says:

      Spoken like a true hun….

      • S Thomas says:

        A True Hun ?

      • S Thomas says:

        Your nuts johnny.. I support every uk team in Europe apart from rangers and Chelsea. Does liking Man City make someone a hun. I’ve never heard that in my life.. I’m actually a Liverpool fan, but love the way City play football. I have never heard anybody getting called a hun for that, your some man you really are lol.

  • Chris McDougall says:

    I’m with you, James. Don’t much like Inter tbh, but it’s the lesser of 2 evils.

  • Cyril Donohoe says:

    Ye i have a feeling that Maresca will get the job ,if so hope he is a success but I doubt it ,it would be similar to the Neil Lennon appointment, plenty top notch proven coaches well within budget, pure madness if we do appoint this lad

  • John says:

    James, great article. Fully with you, but will be basking in what is left of the sun. Not interested in the game.

    Hope city get shafted by the FA. Titles striped and booted out the league.

    We should not be associated with them plus we laugh at the rookie over the city just to walk into the same debacle.

    The board need to give themselves a shake. Tgere is taking risks and there are taking risks. The man city coach is the latter.

  • Martin says:

    I’m for inter too. I’m always against teams from the epl doing well as the financial skewing they’re involved with harms football everywhere.

    You’ve yanked my chain with this article though and I’m going full Mickey Beale and this is going to be a very unpopular view.…Guardiola, a very sound manager. But, is he as good as people say? He’s never had a managerial position where he wasn’t at the dominant or one of the 2 dominant clubs in the league, with the ability to spend eye watering amounts of money. Also (though I doubt this is his fault) he’s managed 3 senior clubs and each one was engaged in financial doping to some degree at the time. I’ve nothing much against the guy, but he’s already had CL success with 2 clubs during times of financial irregularities, what does it say about the integrity of the game if we cheer him on to do it at a 3rd?

  • GG says:

    Totally agree with your article apart from getting Ange. We’d never have got him if it wasn’t for our CFG connections. Zero chance PL and DD would have a clue who he was.

  • Pan says:

    I totally concur with your thoughts on this.
    City are a blot on the football landscape.

  • Jackson says:

    Nail on head with your article…..why would we hire Maresca because he is part of city group…….it seems that its between him and Brendan with the bookies.
    If you asked 60k Celtic fans which one would they be happier with then its a no contest.

  • Stuart Burdett says:

    Hope City get pumped.

  • king murdy says:

    good article james…i had began to wonder if we had a connection with the city group..
    like you…i hope inter win also…i won’t even be watching…no matter who is playing an EPL team, in whatever competition, i always want the EPL team to lose…and i particularly dislike manchester city…apart from the bert trautman final….what else had this mob contributed to english/british football history until the questionable middle east money arrived ? and of course, just had to be another member of the lawwell family involved with them…who’d have guessed ? it was pure chance that celtic fc STUMBLED into the postocoglou appointment….we need to be very careful of the “city group” and also very careful of the continuing influence of a second lawwell at celtic park….
    mon the inter….HH
    ps….hope you enjoy your hols…really appreciate the blog.

  • Effarr says:

    I would always support any team bar one against an EPL side simply because they are there only because they have spent other people’s money to get there. If every team in the UK had to live according to their bare means, Celtic would be top. As an aside, I see Ange
    has turned on the charm about wonderful fans and a wonderful institution. The only words changed in his tattered script is Tottenham in place of the scored-out Celtic.

  • John S says:

    Couldn’t agree more. It’s an Agency acting in its own interests, punting possibilities. The Maresca thing has been hyped from early on, though I can’t see why.

  • Tony B says:

    The Lawwells are no different to the Kellys and Whites in my eyes.

    I just wish they would fuck off and feather their nests elsewhere.

  • Martin.H says:

    Up for Rodgers, but to me Knutsen would be best bet if we could get him, two guys with managerial experience. This guy from Man. City failed at his last attempt, we don’t need to be a project. We were lucky with Ange, drop this City pish.

    • Martin says:

      Agreed, Knutsen would be a great appointment. But I think if he has to choose between us and Ajax, he looks under the bonnet at our respective youth setups (seems a key part of how he works) and he gets himself some tulips and clogs, we have no chance there.

  • Eldraco says:

    City group ambition is to be THE dominant force in world football , if you don’t think PL and DD are not interested in the financial benefits of being part of that I have a bridge to sell you.

  • Stesano says:

    We need to hear the truth about who we are going for and if Brendan is in the frame , there is only one ! And its him! He is a winner get him back !!

  • Johnny Green says:

    I will be having a bet on City as I think they are a sure bet, so I will be shouting them on for that reason only.

  • Michael McCartney says:

    Like you James I have no time for the financial doping of the EPL, The only team I’ve ever supported is the Great Glasgow Celtic. All these eejits who support EPL teams I just do not understand, I have absolutely no interest in giving support to a league that sucks the life out of Scottish football with the help of the UK media.
    Tonight I couldn’t care less who wins and I agree with you, to appoint a manager just because he’s the great Pep’s assistant but has only a very limited unsuccessful stint in the Italian B division would in my opinion a big mistake.

Comments are closed.