For two seasons, Celtic have been bereft of Europe’s most prestigious tournament. The UEFA Champions League is by far the most lucrative offering available to Scotland’s top club.
When the head was finally severed from the Ibrox club in 2012, Celtic flew the flag in Europe for Scottish clubs. It has been a lonely journey but one which continues to be solo.
Finance is the setback for clubs such as Aberdeen or Hearts. Celtic may have trimmed their own margins in recent times but they should still have been comepeting in Europe’s premier club competition rather than operating in the Europa League.
Wherever you place your blame, Ronny Deila, the Celtic board, the scouting network, the transfer policy, we haven’t reinvested since the peak of 2012-2013. Well, not until now.
The demise of Celtic’s old rivals wasn’t just the comeuppance that they deserved for financial fraud and mismanagement. This was a signal that the immediate face of Scottish football was going to change.
Scotland has not seen top flight winner other than Glasgow’s oldest rivals for 30 years. With one of those rivals now a defunct club, how long will it be before Celtic’s reign will be broken?
With no other Scottish club able to finance a team the strength of Celtic’s (without spending money that wasn’t their own) Celtic put the brakes on.With little pressure from other teams on the domestic front, investment was reduced and certain gambles were taken.
A modern day, up and coming Norwegian manager was appointed. It was a left field approach which I backed fully but given the lack of domestic pressure, was less of a risk.
Although Celtic’s 4th and 5th title in row was achieved, it was Europe that became a declining feature of each season. Two failed attempts at the Champions League led to dropping into the Europa League twice.
The team wasn’t performing as well as they could and tactically the head coach appeared naive. I fought his corner but we saw last season that things needed to be shaken up.
As I said at the beginning, Europe is lucrative for Celtic. In fact it is essential for the club’s finances.
Dismal displays on the continent did little to woo season ticket holders and any other sales that generate revenue for Celtic. Now the club have brought in someone who can take us back to the Champions League.
Tomorrow night Celtic must hold their nerve in Israel. They have a three goal lead but that doesnt mean I’m okay with the two goals Hapoel Be’er Sheva scored at Celtic Park.
They can score again but so can Celtic. Brendan Rodgers and his players must get across the line tomorrow night.
So far I’ve been impressed with the incremental improvements. New players making an impact and established players rediscovering old form.
The UEFA Champions League is there for tomorrow night’s winners. Let’s get back to where we belong.
A dream ticket awaits those who show willing.