PFA's latest scheme good news for Celtic - but not so great for Scotland

By Ruari Macneil

January 23, 2018

The PFA are reportedly set to put for a statutory 4-week-long break for footballers in Scotland in the summer – and are set to go head to head with the SFA who will surely oppose this.

Scotland are due to play two international friendlies across the Atlantic against Peru and Mexico at the end of the season, and such a break would deny any Scotland players playing in the SPFL the chance to join up with their country.

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This is particularly relevant to Celtic due to the fact that the club faces serious issues every summer bringing players back from international duty with enough time to train properly ahead of the Champions League qualifying games.

Since Celtic have had to start their European campaign in the 2nd round of qualifying, the summer break for players has been cut ridiculously short. Not only is there the issue of lack of recovery and rest time for the players, the teams which Celtic tend to be up against in these early Champions League qualifying rounds tend are usually from Scandinavia and other countries, who are mid-way through their own seasons.

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Celtic tend to be heads and shoulders above these teams in terms of quality, however, due to the summer break, often lack the match fitness and playing form which their opponents possess. Simply look at Brendan Rodgers’ first game as Celtic boss for an example – away at Lincoln Red Imps, a semi-professional side from Gibraltar that play in a 2,200 capacity stadium. Celtic lost 1-0.

A few months later, with Celtic right into the swing of things in terms of their season, the same team manages to perform well enough to earn two draws against Pep Guardiola’s billionaire Manchester City side home and away.

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The PFA’s decision to push through a statutory month long break would be unbelievably beneficial to the Celtic players, who would get a proper chance to recharge their batteries ahead of the crucial qualifiers and lengthy season ahead. With the SFA, however, having scheduled two friendlies to take place at the end of the season, this could be severely detrimental to the national side.

Celtic have 7 players currently in the Scotland set up, most of whom are starters, and not a single one would be available to play for Scotland in the transatlantic fixtures.

Celtic and Scotland captain Scott Brown has had his say on things, as reported by the Daily Record.

“The PFA are trying to help us out with a four-week holiday. It would be phenomenal, especially for the Celtic lads in Scotland,” Brown said.

“We’ve not had that in a long time because of the early starts in Champions League qualifiers and the quicker we can get that the better’.

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Brown highlighted the fact that despite the big wages and celebrity status, footballers are human at the end of the day – and that sport is their profession just like anybody else with a job.

“People look at footballers differently but it’s important to remember it’s also a job and people need to have a break and holidays at times. It’s something that needs to be addressed and we are in dialogue with the SPFL and SFA”, Brown said

It is good news that the PFA is looking to protect it’s players with proper recovery periods throughout the year. Some compromise position, however, must be found between both associations – as the last thing the country needs is unwanted conflict between the national team and the domestic league.

List page image © Tom Brogan