‘Celtic sold on Rodgers’ Euro Vision,’ Daily Mail headline, 14 June 2023

The Bhoys Celtic banner at Pittodrie in Celtic’s first match after the January transfer window closed  summed it up perfectly. Adam Idah and Nicolas Kuhn had been signed but Celtic’s efforts elsewhere in that window ended in failure and frustration.

The Celtic support was not entirely convinced that enough had been done by the Celtic Board to ensure that the title would be won this season and with it the huge Champions League riches would be coming to Celtic Park and not heading over to Ibrox.

‘CELTIC BOARD – ON YOUR HEADS BE IT,’  the Bhoys Celtic banner read and thereafter we’ve all watched the drama unfold and having ceded the advantage in the title race, Brendan Rodgers appears to be in the driving seat with four games remaining, three of which are at Celtic Park and his side are three points clear with a  goal difference advantage on top.

But it’s far from over and the stakes could not be higher financially speaking. The money on offer for the winners of the Scottish Premiership this season will shape the landscape in our game for years to come depending on which side of Glasgow divide picks up the cash.

Celtic have over £70m in the bank. The expected sale of Matt O’Riley this summer will take that within touching distance of having £100m cash reserves. Add the Champions League money and there will be around £140m slushing around earning interest in the Celtic PLC coffers.  And that’s not including season ticket money.

If Celtic are to improve on recent showings in the Champions League and ensure European football after Christmas – which was one of Brendan Rodgers’ key targets for this season – then money, serious money has to be spent improving this Celtic squad. That means tried and test quality additions not more project signings. Surely everyone at Celtic understands this, and it is abundantly clear that Brendan Rodgers does.

Have a look at this newspaper heading from 14 June last year, just as Brendan was on the brink of returning to the club…

‘CELTIC SOLD ON RODGERS’ EURO VISION’  was the Daily Mail headline. “Parkhead board have agreed to back Brendan’s Champions League dream”…Really?

John Hartson held his annual golf day yesterday and as usual took the opportunity to have his say on his old club. Big Bad John is optimistic that this headline will be accurate a year down the line in that, long overdue, a Celtic manager will be properly backed to make an impact on the Champions League in its new format.

Peter Lawwell, Brendan Rodgers and Michael Nicholson (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

“It’s important the Celtic board backs Brendan this summer and I think they will,” John Hartson said yesterday down at Turnberry. “They all saw the disappointing Champions League campaign. And I think they’ll now listen to the fact he was talking about bringing in real quality in January.

“I’m not saying they go and spend £10m on a player because that’s not really Celtic’s way. They did it with Odsonne Edouard a few years ago and previously in years gone by big money on the likes of myself, Chris Sutton, Neil Lennon and Alan Thompson. But I just think clubs these days are holding onto their purse strings much more.

Celtic Chairman Peter Lawwell and Chief Executive Michael Nicholson in the directors box. Celtic v Kilmarnock, Cinch Scottish Premiership, 17 February 2024. Photo Stuart Wallace Shutterstock

“But I still expect the board to back Brendan. I think they have to. They need to help him get to the second phase of the Champions League because in recent years it’s been awful, it really, really has.

“There is money there now and I really do think Brendan will get the backing he wants because that’s all you hear him say. In almost every interview since the January window he’s talked about bringing in quality. I don’t think what happened previously can happen again. There were a lot of people very disgruntled last time with what happened.

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Cameron Carter-Vickers  with manager Brendan Rodgers as Celtic win a penalty shoot out during the Aberdeen v Celtic – Scottish Cup Semi Final at Hampden Park on April 20, 2024. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

“This time around, if they can get into the Champions League, I think they have to back him. Because Celtic cannot have another season in the Champions League like the last few. They need to be stronger and you need quality players to do that. You need big players and big characters to add to what they’ve got, the likes of Cameron Carter-Vickers and Matt O’Riley.

“Listen, there are always teams that want to come and nick your players. And sometimes, when it’s a big bid like £20m for Kieran Tierney or £25m for Jota it’s an extreme offer. Celtic have no option then, they can’t turn those types of offers away. But Brendan needs to add and I think he will get the money this time.”

Brendan will also be looking at reshaping his squad in terms of exits as well as quality arrivals and we could see numerous members of this current squad being moved on this summer as a fairly substantial rebuild takes place.

John Hartson was speaking at his annual golf day at Turnberry for his foundation. The Hartson Foundation has raised awareness and made several donations to cancer charities all around Scotland for more than a decade.

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About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor David Faulds has edited numerous Celtic books over the past decade or so including several from Lisbon Lions, Willie Wallace, Tommy Gemmell and Jim Craig. Earliest Celtic memories include a win over East Fife at Celtic Park and the 4-1 League Cup loss to Partick Thistle as a 6 year old. Best game? Easy 4-2, 1979 when Ten Men Won the League. Email editor@thecelticstar.co.uk

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