The Celtic Under-18s squad are being placed on furlough, according to the Daily Mail (14/01/21, page 92)

Reliable Mail journalist Stephen McGowan has reported that youth coach Darren O’Dea told his players over Zoom.

This means the Celtic Under-18s will not train or play for at least three weeks.

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The Scottish Government has tightened Covid-19 restrictions in recent weeks, due to an increase in transmissions over the last two months. According to the BBC, “1,949 people have tested positive for Covid-19 in the past 24 hours, representing 10.2% of the total number of people tested.”

Scotland has seen over 5000 Covid deaths since the original outbreak. Scottish football’s lower tiers stopping completely for three weeks, as cases have risen (Evening Standard). Youth football will, too, take a significant hit.

However, it’s arguably another bad PR move from Celtic here. Having just issued an “apology” for flouting the Covid rules, the club are taking advantage of a government scheme to pay wages.

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Is anyone doubtful for a second that Celtic couldn’t afford to just pay their youth players?

Celtic Under-18s are being furloughed

Celtic’s Lennoxtown training centre / (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

Celtic lurch towards another PR crisis

The Celtic board are just opening themselves up to further criticism, here.

It was bad enough when Desmond and co. refused to furlough non-playing staff (Glasgow Times). Yesterday’s sob story about the club being affected more than most rang hollow. Today, another own goal, with the modest salaries of Celtic’s youth players being covered by taxpayers.

If you ask me, there’s little doubt that the Celtic’s Under-18s monthly wages come to far less than what Dubai cost. While I’m not privy to what the Academy players earn, it seems incredibly unlikely to collectively amount to more than £200,000.

Under the furlough scheme, the Government pays 80% of an employee’s wages, while the employer tops up 20%. This means that Celtic have cut costs in an incredibly insignificant way.

This will just annoy fans even more. Alienated by the penny pinching but also outraged by the club’s extravagance in other areas, it’s frankly bizarre being a Celtic fan just now.

The club’s latest moves are getting harder to defend. We’re doubtful this story ends here.

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