Nobody can deny the passion of Celtic supporters. Various broadcasters continuously wet themselves at the thought of going to Glasgow for a European night because of the atmosphere.
But the point remains – is that really their level?
After the Lisbon Lions won the European Cup in 1967, Celtic cemented their place in the history of European football.
Just as well, because in the last 10 years, they’ve relied on a Tony Watt goal against Barcelona and an impressive sing-song to be able to hype up Champions League nights.
— Mícheál Nagle (@Micheal_Nagle) May 25, 2017
Unfortunately for the club, the standard of football they’re exposed to on weekly basis brings them down a level, even if none of the players themselves will admit it.
Brendan Rodgers’ boys drew 1-1 with St. Johnstone back in August.
Tommy Wright’s since come out and said he found a League of Ireland player’s wage demands to be too excessive.
This is what the Bhoys are up against every week.
The fact the loyalty of the supporters carries them to a different level in terms of being able to afford a calibre of player that’s above the required level to win trophies in Scotland is both a commendation and a condemnation.
The cult of personality surrounding the club as a counterpoint to Rangers has aided them. Hordes of Irish people flock to Glasgow every weekend to fund a club while not taking any notice of their own domestic football. Whether it’s inadvertent marketing or not is irrelevant – it’s grown the club massively.
Celtic and Rangers is one of the best derbies in world football, and that status has further elevated both clubs from a tourism perspective. They’re both brands and rely on the existence of the other to truly maintain the level of interest that exists in them today.
We’re not even four years removed from Brendan Rodgers almost winning a Premier League trophy with Liverpool.
He’s in Glasgow, where 80% of his games in a season don’t really challenge him.
However, he’s all but guaranteed six big games a year where additional revenue flows into Parkhead – further separating them from the pack. It’s a no-win situation, and the fact Celtic supporters haven’t gotten sick of their domestic situation yet is somewhat baffling.
There are constant suggestions that Celtic should join the Premier League. That would be embarrassing for the SFA. However, they would, at least in theory – be competitive.
They could raise ticket prices and already have a better marketing strategy than half the clubs in England’s top tier. Yet their duality with Rangers means they both would probably have to end up jumping ship.
This would kill Scottish football, but would benefit the clubs individually going forward. At present, you’ll never see the best of Celtic on a European stage. Whatever purse strings they can stretch now, they’d do well to ever get into the Champions League in England.
Perhaps they’re content with being the big fish in the small pond while the bank balance continues to increase.
Perhaps their dependence on Rangers as an opponent to keep their SPL success relevant undermines their future.
Perhaps their international appeal doesn’t quite match up with the domestic regulations football has set for them.