What If? England | Managers | Sponsor | CL Groups

There have been many defining moments in Celtic’s history, and many hypothetical scenarios we’re left wondering about. In this feature, we ask our panel of writers for their take on a few of these. I’m Stephen Russell (@SJRussell23) and on the team this week we have Eoin Coyne (@toomanybigwords), Matt Evans (@SkylandsCSC), Ronan Kearney (@Kearney1085) and Alex Papadopoulos (@AlexPapa67).

What if Celtic PLC purchased Bury’s English FA registration with a view towards moving down south after the ten?

COYNE: Ok, so let’s assume that Bury would still have their League 1 status. So that’s the old English third division then. So naturally the support are less than thrilled with abandoning the idea of 11 in a row for regular clashes with Scunthorpe and Walsall and the odd Betfred Cup glamour tie against the Stoke City U-23s. There are full on riots at Celtic Park. Lawell has to be spirited away to safety. A coup ensues. This is now a club of the people. Brexit England blocks Celtic taking the Bury registration on the basis that there is Corbyn voters in their support and they might come down to England and do a big terrorism at the Queen. Celtic stay in Scotland, appoint the fenian wigman as new chairman as we romp to 55.

EVANS: With the highest peaks conquered in both Scotland and Europe, and the recent string of trebles, one might be forgiven to think that Celtic might fancy taking on a Football Manager-esque challenge as the calendar flips to the year 2022. Glasgow Celtic Football Club, of course, would continue to exist (but as a newco) in Glasgow, and the academy team would run riot in Scotland’s lower leagues, gaining promotion back to the Premiership within five seasons. Meanwhile, Celtic FC, the one you have all loved since 1888, moves into Gigg Lane. Fergus McCann is there on Day 1, bunnet firmly affixed to melon, to oversee plans for stadium expansion, and the prospect of Celtic in the Premier League spurs massive investment from Dermot Desmond and his rich buddies.

KEARNEY: Celtic would enter into League 2 and be playing Premier League football within 4 years. Consecutive promotions from League 2 and League 1 would happen and barring disaster, Celtic should have enough quality to get out of the Championship within one, and maximum two seasons. From them on, it is about establishing yourself as a top ten Premier League club – somewhat similar to what Wolves are doing right now. The extra revenue streams coming from foreign investment, TV rights, player fees would see us challenging for honours within ten years.

PAPADOPOULOS: For the future of the club, this would ultimately be a good move. Despite a start in the third tier of English football due to Bury’s 2ndplace finish in League 2 last season, I believe Celtic would eventually work their way into the EPL and challenge fir Europe in a few seasons. The money that can be earnt in the Premier League renders comparison with the Scottish league redundant, 6thplaced wolves made 50 times what Celtic earned for winning the SPFL, so based on this it could only be beneficial for a club the size of Celtic.

What if Celtic could sign any manager in the world for 2 years after which they must leave? Who do you choose and why?

COYNE: It can only be Bielsa for me. The perfect guy to come in and blitz the club and its methods and tactical systems for two exhausting years by which time everyone will be burned out and in need of a break. His Bilbao side remain one of the most exciting teams I think I’ve ever seen. You knew they’d ultimately win nothing but boy did they ever shine bright before the inevitable end of season exhausted collapse. As a genuine maverick and innovator the romantic in me also thinks he would love it here.

EVANS: Considering the rat was a hire beyond my wildest dreams, and he essentially fucked off after two years, I’m not going to be too fussed about my dream selection doing the same. Celtic require a professional, modern manager with an understanding of psychology and the latest statistical analysis, but also with a drive and a will to win and demand consistent improvement. It’s a great job for a manager who feels he has proven everything he needs but wants somewhere where he can have relative freedom to stamp his style on the club. Step forward, Pep Guardiola.

KEARNEY: Pedro Caixinha. Imagine Pedro taking over next season and winning the ten. You love to see it.

PAPADOPOULOS: The most important part for me in the choice of this manager would be structural change in the club. Leeds United brought in Victor Orta to serve as DoF alongside Marcelo Bielsa as manager, and a similar system to his could work well for Celtic. Bielsa is a world-renowned coach who is famous for his attack-minded football and the philosophy he instills at a club – yes we have heard this one before with Brendan Ratchers. However if there is something that requires a big change at Celtic it is the system of recruitment, and the structure and style of football that would arrive with Bielsa could set up the club for years to come. 

What if you were offered the Celtic Foundation as a shirt sponsor over any gambling or alcohol alternatives but at the cost of signing any players for 12 months?

COYNE: Did Peter Lawell write this one? Ok fine, you can have ethics at this club but if we have ethics we can’t have players? Rabble rabble rabble. But I’ll take it. Some things should be beyond the grab of filthy lucre and it would certainly be nice to think that the famous hoops would be one of those things. Not to mention the fact that gambling in particular seems to have an increasing presence around football with worrying results. Also, if we didn’t sign any players it will hasten Lawell being chased out of the club which I am wholeheartedly in favour of. 

EVANS: Oh, a What If where I get to bang on about shirt sponsors! Celtic’s reliance on sponsorships from companies selling vices is a real sore spot for me, and having to see a bookie on the front of the shirt and a cider manufactory on the back hurts my old-school football soul. This move would be dangerous – if this had been in place for this summer window and the upcoming January one, Celtic would be looking at an enforced back three of Ajer-Bitton-Simunovic – but ultimately as a supporter I’d be a lot prouder of my club for making the choice to advertise the Celtic Foundation, which helps so many, over Dafabet, which only help themselves.

KEARNEY: I would take this option. I mean, we don’t sign players anyway so what difference does it make? Clubs do have a social responsibility now to their fans and especially clubs in socially disadvantaged areas should be doing more. It is not right that the club would advocate supporting food banks but then also take the money from gambling and alcohol companies to put it on display across our jersey. Celtic have been known for being more than just a football club and whilst we may live up to that some of the time, there is a long way to go and this would be a great start.

PAPADOPOULOS: Yes, absolutely take it, the duopoly that gambling and alcohol companies have over much of the advertising in football is shameful. On top of that, the hoops look a lot better with the Celtic Foundation logo on them. If Celtic could be on of the first to make this change that would be monumental – especially given the issues brought to light by players on the pitch. Besides, not like we will buy any players in the next 12 months anyways. 

What if you were offered guaranteed Champions League groups every season but must start the league on -12 points?

COYNE: 12 is too much. Can we meet in the middle at 6? Also, about the Champions League; we’ve been in it recently. Physically anyway but how long has it been since we were anything like a competitive force at that level? When was the last time we gave one of the giants a bloody nose? It feels like forever. More recently we are there but we just make up the numbers. Turn up, take the hammering, take the check, go home. It’s a grand life for a jobbing late 30s heavyweight who never quite made it to the top but for Celtic one would hope for a little more ambition. I also have no doubt we’d just accumulate that money and spend fuck all of it anyway. So, what would be the point?

EVANS: Talk to me about this after the ten. That’s the paramount medium-term goal for Celtic, and it’s close enough that the club should be able to get it over the line without relying on the massive Champions League windfall (selling players can more than make up for that). Twelve points would be a difficult gap to overcome, and although it’s
certainly possible, I wouldn’t want to gamble that for the prospect of four blowouts in the group stages and a pile of euros.

KEARNEY: Fuck. Ok, I would take that. I mean, Champions League football every season means we have more coin than anyone else in the league so if we are raking it in, then we should have enough about us to overturn a 12 point deficit. Actually, delete this question quickly before someone at the SFA sees it and tries to implement it #GoingFor55.

PAPADOPOULOS: After 10, absolutely. Before 10, would not be happy with that. I can’t see us winning the next two leagues by 12 or more points despite the advantage brought by Tuesday and Saturday football. Over 5 years I think we would see improvement in the first team squad and maybe enjoy transfer windows more, but that would probably be at the cost of a league title or 2. 

If you have any situations that you’d like to put to our future panels, let us know in the comments below or alternatively on Twitter @90MinuteCynic or @SJRussell23. Thanks for reading.

Despite growing up, and now studying, in England, Celtic have always been a huge part of my life. I first watched the team with my dad; I fell in love and then there was no turning back. Torn between a statistically enhanced footballing style and a good, old-fashioned get-it-in-the-mixer-and-score style.

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