In the know opposition boss dishes out heavy praise for maligned Celtic initiative

By John McGinley

March 12, 2022

There’s been a lot of cynicism about Celtic’s decision to pursue B team opportunities in the Scottish Lowland Football League.

Some of it has returned this week after reports that both Celtic and Rangers have applied to be featured in the league again next season after a one-year trial.

There’s a feeling from some pundits, commentators and fans outside of our bubble that it’s just a way for Celtic and Rangers to hoard young players rather than be used as any sort of meaningful development path.

Evidence this year would show that not to be the case with Ben Doak, Owen Moffat and Joey Dawson all getting game time with the Bhoys senior side this season after appearances for the B team.

In fact, it’s thought that Ange Postecoglou now sees the B side as a crucial part of the process for youngsters coming through at Lennoxtown.

There’s also been a bit of sneering about the benefits to the Lowland League itself. But one man who would know is East Kilbride manager Chris Aitken.

He’s been effusive with his praise of the initiative this weekend, going on the record to state he is very much of the belief it’s a good thing for his team and the league.

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Speaking to The Daily Record, he said: “I’ve always been one that was for it. I think they’ve come into the league and it has been great. When the games have come around the guys have had a wee bit of press, and when they’re going into the games there has been a wee bit of a crowd there and a wee bit of atmosphere. I’ve loved it. I would be all for it again, absolutely.

“When your guys, players and management are playing against Rangers and Celtic there’s a wee bit of an edge to it, when they see that strip on and that badge. When you walk out you see the crowd and what they bring. The Rangers and Celtic games at our bit, in our experience, behind the goal was always full. We hadn’t had anything like that since I’ve been there.

“As a player and a management that’s what you want. You want to go into these games trying to prove yourself against the so-called ‘best of the best’. I’ve always said I liked the idea. I think Rangers and Celtic teams being in a league like this should be happening, and maybe even in a league above. Every other country does it, so why not us?”

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

It seems that if it’s a good thing for the Lowland League and a good thing for Celtic, why would anyone really be against it?

It doesn’t impact promotion into the SPFL system and it seems to be going down a treat with those who work week-to-week in the league.

The whole thing allows more flexibility for young players between the youth and senior sides. Many B team talents train with the first team at Lennoxtown every day.

A loan can break that bond and make it more difficult to call players up at short notice because of injuries or another gap in the matchday squad.

I think it’s largely been a success and I would look forward to continuing with it all next season if the Lowland League vote it through again.

In other news, Ange Postecoglou shares what outsiders “don’t understand” about his football at Celtic.