Wanted – An 18 Month Plan
Celtic FC is currently experiencing one of our periods of flux and uncertainty with poor form on the pitch,a dysfunctional squad and management team,and a board which will shortly undergo a major personnel change at the top. Whether this sees a change in direction of the modus operandi of the club remains to be seen; what we can say for sure is that more of the same is not a form of medication which the support are likely to stomach.
Calls to boycott club products and season tickets have already been made by such as the AICSC and various bloggers,and to if not by the CST and CSA. The fans cannot believe what we have witnessed this season on the pitch,much less that it has been tolerated by the board of the club. Clearly the current model is broken,and with the imminent changes in personnel in the squad,the dugout and the boardroom,the situation calls for a total rethink on strategy.
The question is,of course,whether such a rethink is considered to be appropriate or necessary by those in the position to implement it. Yesterday gave us the thoughts of CELTSFORCHANGE2021 who firmly believe that a boycott will persuade the board to implement such a change,and while I support their aims I think there is another reason why such a change has to be made to what so many of us think is a broken model. It is not good enough for the board to say that the current strategy has worked in the past and that only a few tweaks are required to get it to work again-to stand still in football is to go backwards as the rest of the world moves on. We have already seen that at the domestic level as a team with all sorts of “unusual” advantages has overtaken us and frankly laughed themselves silly at our pathetic efforts to match them. And surely the board must know that this must never happen again?
Well,what if being also-rans domestically was the least of our worries,what if that was also the case on the European stage? Now,I agree with the obvious-that we already are also-rans in Europe-but that is only if you judge it by the standards of this season. Last season,we topped our group with games to spare,and this season we were a Pot One team for the Europa League. Of course we would have preferred to be in Champions League group stages more often-and I firmly believe that we should treat that as a realistic aim every season and not simply a pipe dream. But very soon such a pipe dream will move to the status of necessity-or a slow death by a thousand cuts. For in season 2024/25,the CL is moving to a new format,a more lucrative one for those taking part,and one which signals a seachange between the haves and have nots in the game. If you thought the current set up was bad enough,you ain’t seen nothing yet!
The group stages of the new format are not yet formalised but have been narrowed down to two choices. The first is for six groups of six teams,each team playing ten games. Top two in each group plus the best four “losers” progress to the Last 16. The other is a rather ludicrous idea of all 32 teams in one league,with each team playing a random five others at home and another random five away-top sixteen to the Last 16. Either way,each team will play ten group matches instead of the current six and the domestic leagues will bear the brunt of the lost game time to accommodate that. A league season will be a maximum of 34 matches or preferably 30 as CL matches will have weekend schedules in the new set up.
Whether you agree with the new plans or not is immaterial,they are gonna happen in some form at the expense of the domestic game. And here’s where that fact becomes of crucial concern to Celtic-and may in fact have a large part to play in how the powerbrokers at Celtic view the prospect of a bhoycott by the fans. (see my comment on yesterday’s article at 101pm) Celtic CANNOT be left behind on this,because to miss the boat means to be stranded. And even worse would be for us to miss the boat while watching Rangers sail off into the sunset,happily ensconced in their First Class cabin.
Recently,qualification for CL group stages has been worth around £30-40m to the club,along with the associated benefit of making us a more attractive prospect for new signings. From 2024,that is likely to rise to £80m+ for a club at our level in the game,doubling or trebling our income from it. But more worrying is the possibility of Rangers getting to that pot of gold instead of us,and it is why this is not the time for downsizing by the club regardless of the effects of the pandemic on our financials for this year.
To qualify for this bonanza,and more importantly to prevent the huns from getting anywhere near it,we firstly need to win the SPL the season prior to it. That season begins in around thirty months. We have seen how far we have fallen in 24 months,and we can’t risk using all of those thirty to rectify that. We have to get the planning right with immediate effect,we have to start the planning for it now,and we have to make sure that we are ready to go-in the boardroom,in the dugout,on the pitch-in eighteen months at most.
If we don’t,we won’t just have missed the boat. We will have been sunk.
Above article by BMCUWP