I assume that I am not alone in wondering how Celtic could have declined from the peak reached in 1967 to the dramatic exits from the CL handed to us by the likes of AEK and Cluj. The specifics of what went wrong are being debated now and that will continue into the future(or, perhaps, only until the next 5-0 victory!).
The fact that we have consistently underperformed in Europe suggests that there is a deeper problem than the ineptitude of a manager, or the failure to recruit players in time, for example. These are just symptoms of a some greater malaise. After all, underperformance in Europe is not just a Celtic issue. Other Scottish clubs suffer from the same problem, as does the national side. I am old enough to remember Dundee’s drive to the semis of the European Cup; Valencia, perennial Fairs Cup winners, getting slaughtered 6-2 by a stuffy Dunfermline, and Dundee United beating quality teams in Europe. Now we see Killie being knocked out of Europe by a part time team from Wales, Connah’s Quay.
Few would argue that the economics of the game have changed dramatically over the decades spanned by my examples above. In soccer, as in other theatres of Life, we see the rich getting richer, and the poor getting exploited. Yet, do we really understand the the “how” and “why” of this change? More importantly, can we do anything about it?
I once attended a boring management seminar but learned one thing of importance. That was, in order to solve a problem, you must first define it.
Let’s take a sideways shift for a minute and talk about big words…two big words in particular…Monopoly and Oligopoly. These are important because they define how we spend our money. A Monopoly means that a particular market or industry is dominated by a single firm. Oligopoly is an extension of that in that the market/ industry is dominated by a small number of firms.
Think about how many companies control markets like Telecom; your credit cards; your airline flights etc. Oligopolies are everywhere.
Now return to the SPL, how many clubs dominate that league. Currently, two, possibly three, but I suspect that Kilmarnock and Aberdeen are declining forces and that it is really just Sevco and ourselves for the current league battle.
Now some of the features of a market controlled by a monopoly/oligopoly are:
1,,, There is no need to innovate to make money
2,,,No need to increase wages .
3,,,No need to improve individual performance.
4,,Is any of this beginning to look familiar?
Celtic have held a monopoly of the Scottish game for the last few years. Would you say you have seen much in the way of innovation during that time? Disco Lights, perhaps? Buying a 9 million pound striker, maybe. Hiring NL?
Wages have increased, mainly through the arrival of BR and his team, and his desire to keep key players. Now that BR has gone there seems to be the realization that in the Scottish market there is no need to gamble on player or management costs if our focus is purely on the domestic game, i.e. downsizing by another name.
On the other side of the city, the opposite is working. They are throwing money at the recruitment side through their manager and their high priced loans/free transfers. Will they succeed? In SPL terms, it does not matter. All that will happen is they will replace Celtic at the top but the disease of oligopoly will continue.
The effect of the domination of Sevco and Celtic is to stifle the development of other clubs who must rebuild year after year, because their best players leave for happier economic situations. Long term, they cannot improve and challenge the Big Two. Survival is their goal.
So how can things change? If I had the answer to that I’d be knocking on the door of the SFA to offer my services. If there is a solution, it will be drastic. It will involve Celtic and Sevco losing the league and winning fewer trophies. At the moment for Sevco this is no hardship!
The introduction of a draft system for recruiting young players coming through the youth divisions of football would be another change that could be fruitful. Similarly, a redistribution of players from the top two clubs to those in the lower positions in the league would be a tested device used in other sports. Both of these suggestions involve fundamental change and are unlikely to happen, unfortunately.
Some catastrophic event could force change. We had a chance of that in 2012 but that has now gone. Say, five of the current Premier League clubs going into administration is another example of how change might be forced.
However, I see no evidence of either the ability nor the desire within Celtic to innovate to take the club to the next level without some external stimulus. Now I am getting depressed so I shall end. Anyway, how many of us want to see Celtic lose the league for the betterment of Scottish football!
The above article was penned by Rebus67.
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