Replicating Celtic’s successful transfer model will be no walk in the Park

John Park is not about to drastically change theRangers fortunes in the transfer market, no matter what their fans believe. Conall McGinty reports…

I have been watching the reaction over at Ibrox to the employment of former Celtic scout John Park as part of their recruitment team with a smile on my face at both their glee that somehow he’s going to be the new Messiah and unearth hidden gems from all over the world, and how these players will then go on and make the club a fortune in the future.

To start with I will touch on the first part and that’s the excitement amongst their fan base at snapping up the 64 year old who has been out of work since his one year contract with English Championship club Blackburn Rovers expired this summer. I was shocked to see the level of anticipation amongst the Bears at Park leading their recruitment drive for the foreseeable future. I have genuinely saw some of them call it the ‘signing of the summer’.

It’s very rare for the average fan to get overly excited at these kind of appointments. Celtic recently made a similar appointment in Mark Lawwell, who now holds the title as Head of First Team Scouting and Recruitment at the club.

Now this appointment actually did garner quite a strong reaction from Celtic fans. It wasn’t however anything to do with his suitability for the job, bringing someone in who had previously worked in that sector for the super powerful City Group probably should have been regarded as a bit of a coup, but it was his surname that attracted more attention from the Celtic fans.

Mark Lawwell is obviously the son of former Chief Executive Peter Lawwell, who many Celtic fans were glad to see the back off when he stood down last year. Regardless of the younger Lawwell’s suitability for the job, many worried that nepotism was once again raising it’s head at Celtic Park, something that has frustrated a lot of us in the past. Back to my point now, which is none of us were feeling giddy at the prospect of what Mark Lawwell could deliver for us in his new job.

Part of this may be that after a year in which our manager Ange Postecoglou had to work without a Head of Recruitment, none of us really noticed. In fact, under Ange’s all encompassing role we actually had probably our greatest year transfer wise in our history. Almost every player that Ange brought in has been successful, which is why Celtic fans know and trust his eye for a player. theRangers fans evidently don’t have the same trust in Giovanni Van Bronkhorst.

Now let’s get to the reason why theRangers and their fans are so cock-a-hoop regarding bringing in John Park. It’s simple really. They remember some of the players he brought to Celtic Park and more importantly, the money they were sold on for. They think Park is going to come to Ibrox and suddenly start unearthing future world beaters for pennies. They think they are on the verge of copying Celtic’s transfer strategy over the past fifteen years or so which will end their financial worries.

07.11.2012 Glasgow, Scotland. Victor Wanyama in action during the Champions League game between Celtic and Barcelona from Celtic Park.

They remember Victor Wanyama, brought in for under a million and sold on for £12.5m. They remember Virgil Van Dijk, bought for £2.5m and sold for £13m. They remember Gary Hooper, bought for £2m and sold on for £6m after scoring a bagful of goals. The thing is, that is all they remember. They are forgetting that during the time Park was at Celtic and receiving all the praise for these great pieces of business, there was also plenty of transfers where Celtic basically flushed millions down the drain.

21.04.2013 Glasgow, Scotland. Gary Hooper, Adam Matthews and Joe Ledley during the Scottish Premier League game between Celtic and Inverness Caledonian Thistle from Celtic Park.

Same year as Gary Hooper was signed we also signed Efrain Juarez for £2.5m. Same year we signed Wanyama we also signed Mohamed Bangura for £2m. The year we signed Van Dijk? £2.5m was wasted on Derk Boerrigter. The point I’m trying to make is that Park very well may have played his part in unearthing some gems during his time at Parkhead, but if he’s getting the praise for that then he should also receive scorn for being involved in parting with sizeable funds to bring in some absolutely hopeless footballers to our club.

Derk Boerrigter of Celtic picks up an injury on his debut during the Scottish Premier League game between Celtic and Ross County at Celtic Park Stadium on August 03, 2013 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

theRangers fans are choosing to forget those signings however, choosing to focus on the ones who were incredibly successful. This all stems from something that has been bugging them ever since they became a new entity back in 2012. How Celtic keep developing players and selling them on for huge profits, while they can’t do the same. They can’t understand how this ‘Celtic model’ works. They think just because we can do it then so should they. After all they are full believers in the ‘old firm’ and think we are two sides of the same coin.

So by bringing in Park they think that this will finally lead to them bringing in unheard of players and shipping them on at a huge profit a year or two later. They already have an unrealistic valuation for their players. The talk was that Joe Aribo was a £20m player. Looks like he’s on his way for £6m.

They have always quoted crazy figures for Morelos. £20m? £30m? Who knows but when the day comes that he leaves it will be for a huge amount. It won’t. Bassey is the new one. He had a decent half season last year and they are in with the £30m valuations right away. It’s mental stuff.

What they can’t see through their blue tinted glasses is this. The reason we get good money for our players is well, for a start, they are actually good. Celtic have utterly dominated Scottish football over the past few decades. Players come to Celtic Park and become winners. They improve with us and show week in week out that they are capable of going on to play in any league in the world. We also now have a history of selling players who go on and perform at the next level.

26.01.2014 Edinburgh, Scotland. Virgil van Dijk celebrates his goal for Celtic during the Scottish Premier League game between Hibernian and Celtic from Easter Road.

Clubs will look at who we have sold for big money and see how they progressed. Most of these players went on to improve further, showing potential buying clubs that our players are worth splashing the cash for. Look at Moussa Dembele. Check out Kieran Tierney. How is Van Dijk doing? Buying clubs trust us.

The only player theRangers have sold for decent money was Nathan Patterson to Everton. He couldn’t get on ahead of Celtic flop Jonjoe Kenny last season. That’s not a good look when buying clubs are pondering over buying your players.

Celtic’s French striker Moussa Dembele scores his team’s thrid goal during the UEFA Champions League Group C football match between Celtic and Manchester City at Celtic Park on September 28, 2016. (Photo OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)

Now John Park may well pull a rabbit or two out of the hat during his stint at Ibrox. People at Celtic seemed to rate him during his time at Parkhead. But if theRangers suddenly think because they have an ex-employee of ours that they can suddenly imitate our successful model that was crafted over decades of hard work they have are in for a shock.

Personally I’m looking forward to the first few signings under Park that don’t quite work out, being a former employee of Celtic will see them sharpen their knives with great haste. Around that time they may start to understand that doing business the Celtic way isn’t as easy as just bringing in someone previously on our books.

Conall McGinty

About Author

Hailing from Cushendall in the North of Ireland my formative years were spent watching Celtic during our barren spell through the 90's which meant I have appreciated our recent trophy-laden spell even more. Favourite matches home and away I've attended has to be beating Man Utd 1-0 at Celtic Park and being with my 2 brothers watching us beat Lazio 2-1 in Rome. Best away day experience? Has to be Munich with friends from Coatbridge...what a few days!

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