Celtic’s performance against Astana in the first leg of their Champions League Playoff Round was a bit special, wasn’t it? Any win without conceding would have been welcome (although 1-0 would have been particularly good news for underwear retailers ahead of the second leg). But to win 5-0 was the stuff of dreams, and the players and manager deserve every plaudit heading their way at present.
Cliché and fact remind us that it is only half-time in the tie and Celtic could yet be dumped out of the competition in Kazakhstan next week, so we mustn’t get ahead of ourselves. However, it seems highly likely that the Scottish Champions are going to be in the draw for the Group Stage of the 2017-18 Champions League. Which – on balance – is rather nice.
Another cliché which tends to do the rounds at times like this is that “Celtic’s likely progress is good for Scottish football” in terms of the profile and prestige of having a participant, in terms of the opportunity for home-grown players to play on the big stage, and in terms of giving a boost to the national coefficient. Most people seem to agree with these points (even if they don’t much care for Celtic). However, as you might expect – and it is a free country – some have remained resolutely unimpressed. They have lamented the prospect of Celtic’s Champions League revenue making them more dominant domestically, thereby reducing competition still further, and generally making the game less interesting and attractive.
The Clumpany must admit that it laughs in the face of anyone who bemoans a lack of competition but who
- remained silent during Rangers’ (IL) ‘9-in-a-row’ years;and /or
- subscribes to the disastrous fantasy that years of industrial scale cheating by one club is best ignored ‘for the good of the game’.
Nevertheless, I can see why some might be troubled by the prospect of Celtic’s dominance increasing. What’s more, I don’t mind them saying so as long as they don’t try to blame the club in some way for building sustainably over 20 years and for taking a successful punt on a very good manager. There is no fluke or underhand method underpinning Celtic’s position. It is the product of a lot of hard work which continues each and every day. [NB Celtic don’t have the monopoly on working hard to build up their operation – see also Hearts, Aberdeen and Hibs etc].
And then of course there is the windfall that would go to Premiership sides if Celtic make the Group Stages of the Champions League. I have seen it mentioned numerous times today so I thought I would investigate, and I must admit that it is THIS element of Celtic’s success which clearly gives folk grounds to get upset.
“Why should they get upset?” you ask. “It’s basically a bonus to clubs for doing nothing!”.
I must admit that that is what I thought. But having done some digging, I have discovered a little-known clause in the latest UEFA rules and regulations which specifically relates to the implications of Celtic qualifying for the Champions League, and which I now quote in full:
Season 2017-18: Special Provisions for Celtic FC (Scotland).
To mark 50 years of Celtic winning the Champion Clubs’ Cup, and at the request of the club itself, special slurrydality payments will be shared by eligible members of the top tier of the domestic competition in Scotland. £365,000 will be issued to Celtic FC in the form of agricultural slurry for distribution before the end of the season.
The Clumpany has spoken to Celtic insiders who confirm that the club would be absolutely delighted to share its success with its domestic peers in such a unique way. Peter Lawwell has apparently gained a pilot’s licence and intends to personally drop the slurrydarity payments on Premiership grounds during matches. Preferably as near to the press boxes as possible.
One source – who asked not to be named as he stood on his heated driveway – said “I don’t know why people begrudge Celtic our success. It’s not as if we literally come and dump a load of shit on their doorstep.
So there you have it. Celtic’s Champions League success is clearly bad for Scottish football.