Monday, January 14, 2013

Before you want us to go, remember where we came from.


The debate, seemingly endless, rages on about where Celtic will be playing football in years to come. I did the tour of Celtic Park on Saturday, my fourth time now I think, and the subject came up amongst the supporters there about where we should be playing. Everyone was talking EPL and saying things like "Brand exposure" "Bigger markets" and, of course, "Money".

Sadly, these are words and phrases you hear bandied about at will by supporters these days.

I say "Sadly" because when Robert Kelly said in 1963 that we were "More than a football club" I don't think he meant that we can also be a cash cow.

I'll state my position clearly now, I am a fan of Scottish football. I like going round Scotland watching Celtic. I like the banter with opposition fans and I like the opportunities that Scottish football provide us. Sadly, for the business types, they are all on the park opportunities.

You see, if that day ever comes, when we get invited to play in England, you can be damn sure we aren't being invited to take their trophies or their Champions League spots. We would be invited for our support. That wonderful support. The one that got invited to testimonials such as Bobby Moore, Ian Rush and Ryan Giggs.

I know Scottish football is bit down on itself just now but that is where, in my opinion, our future lies, and the sooner we realise this (I think Peter Lawwell has finally realised this) the better. We cannot compete with the resources of Barcelona and Man Utd, so we must create the environment at Celtic where we can produce the next Messi or Rooney.

I believe we are well on the road to doing that.

After all, that's how we conquered Europe the first time.

See, playing the likes of Bolton and Wigan away does nothing for me. I'd rmuch rather play Hearts and Aberdeen away. Similarly, my big game appetitie is fed by Barcelona and Juventus, I don't need Arsenal and Man Utd.

The key to the revival of Scottish football is for clubs to follow Celtic's lead in transfer policy and youth development and for every club to do all they can to bring fans back through the gates. It has happened in the past and can happen again.

Also, let us never forget, wonderfully illustrated by The Green Brigade aganst Barcelona, that this club is 125 years old and was formed to feed the poor, immigrant Irish of the east end of Glasgow. I don't want it to become another corporate entity where anything can be eroded from the traditions and history of the club if a new customer base doesn't fancy it.

When the club was formed for those wonderful reasons 125 years ago, it very quickly went on to be the biggest supported club in Britain.

Nobody gave a toss who we played back then.

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