The radical long-term changes Celtic need to consider after derby defeat

By Euan Davidson

January 2, 2021

Well, then. The obvious temptation for us in the Celtic media community is to make a knee-jerk reaction to today, and call for all sorts of changes.

More disco lights, sign Messi, that kind of thing. Maybe call for an inquest into refereeing standards, a move that always goes down well amongst Scottish football fans.

God knows, the lure of calling conspiracy theories is good fun, and we understand why some other outlets do it.

Would that help anyone of a Celtic persuasion today though? We’ve looked at what can be done in the immediate aftermath of today’s loss. Neil Lennon, inevitably, is getting a lot of criticism as a result of what happened today.

Maybe, though, this is a moment for us a support. A crystallised second in time for Celtic fans to talk about what we really want from our Club in the future. Perhaps, it’s a time to paint a vision of the next era, and what that would involve.

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So then. Let’s give it a try.

Celtic defender Shane Duffy / (Photo by Rob Casey/SNS Group via Getty Images)

 

Recruitment cycles before European Qualifiers

There’s a quote erroneously attributed to Albert Einstein that, regardless of source, sums up Celtic’s transfer moves over recent years.

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.

As lovely and concise as that is, whoever said it may well have been talking about the Celtic board. Every year, the Club fails to make the right moves before the 500 rounds of qualifying for the Champion’s League.

A vital players leaves Celtic, we play someone who isn’t ready or we don’t have cover, we lose to Ferencvaros. Previously, it was AEK Athens (Sky Sports). Cluj, too (BBC).

Season after season, we don’t look ready to compete in Europe until it’s too late. That feeds into a cycle of not gaining valuable CL income, one of our players becoming disaffected, etc, etc.

In the long and short-term, that has to stop. I’m not football agent, nor a director of football, but surely there are ways to fix this? Is it as easy the Club simply doing their transfer business earlier?

Or is the case that Celtic have no long-term strategy and have to rely on last-minute trolley dashes for underwhelming players like Shane Duffy?

If the board are to make any progress in European competitions, the whole recruitment department and transfer model has to be investigated further. At the current rate, it’s a fool’s errand.

 

Celtic fans protest at Celtic Park / (Photo by Craig Williamson/SNS Group via Getty Images)

Celtic supporter involvement at board level

In the past, 67 Hail Hail has spoken to Jeanette Findlay of the Celtic Trust. In that insightful interview, it was clear that fan ownership of the Club was the end goal.

While we might not see that for quite some time, if ever, fan involvement at board level should be a prerogative for Celtic supporters going forward.

The advantages are clear, and a number of clubs have already gone for it, including Motherwell (Scottish Supporters Network). Given Celtic’s history as a working-class club with a loyal fan base, is it really so inconceivable?

It’s more expensive to buy a season ticket than it is a share at Celtic Football Club (London Stock Exchange). Asking fans to reach into their pockets again this season may be a bit far-fetched, but it’s not unreasonable to think that a co-ordinated share buying effort like the Celtic Trust could gain a large portion of control at the club.

In Germany, it’s the norm, with the 50+1 rule (Bundesliga). For all clubs in the top two tiers of German football, the fans have the majority of voting rights, meaning that they can implement change in their own way. The German spectator is closer to the club than the fan in the UK.

The standing section, tifos, charity drives; most of the good stuff at Celtic Park over the last decade has been through the initiative of the supporters. With more control, who knows what the club could achieve in the long term?

 

Celtic youngster Cameron Harper / (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group via Getty Images)

More investment into the academy, and guaranteed chances for graduates

The fact is, Brexit is going to make running a football club in the UK much harder than it used to be. It’ll cost more to travel to European matches, it’ll make signing players from countries like Belgium and Holland much harder, and it’ll mean the big clubs will look to snatch Celtic’s youth talent.

The days of signing unheralded youngsters from Europe and turning them into superstars is probably over. So, then; the club’s focus has got to be about investment in the youth academy.

We’ve seen the likes of Josh Adam move to Manchester City and Liam Morrison to Bayern München. Instead of giving young players chances, senior players on big contracts have taken precedence, regardless of performance.

For the club who produced the Lisbon Lions, is that right? Let alone sustainable?

There’s little more Celtic fans love than watching the career ascent of a home-grown academy talent. Karamoko Dembélé has been a hotly-tipped prospect for ages now, but he’s barely had a game. Ditto Cameron Harper, Kerr McInroy, Scott Robertson, Luca Connell and a number of others.

In reality, Celtic need to adapt to the changing socio-political environment and put their faith in the players from the academy. It doesn’t have to be wholesale change all at once, but if the Club could actually let youngsters get first-team minutes in league games on a consistent basis, wouldn’t that be a good start?


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