Celtic’s pillage of Yorkshire’s young talent continued yesterday with the arrival of 20-year-old Dutch player Osaze Urhoghide from Sheffield Wednesday. Osaze is a central defender and arrives a few days after fellow Wednesday graduate, midfielder Liam Shaw.
Sheffield Wednesday are in turmoil. Their most recent published accounts, to June 2019, showed a trading loss of £17m on a turnover of £22.8m – horrendous, but an improvement on the previous year’s trading loss of £23.7m. They sold Hillsborough for £38m during season 2018-19, switched the accounts to a £19m profit, but they are now a club without a stadium-sized asset on the balance sheet.
Since then, a bad situation has gotten considerably worse. Despite being the biggest team in the Championship by some margin, the finished bottom of the table in May; at least one season of third tier football awaits.
In short, Osaze and Liam may read about Celtic’s supposed turmoil last season and kick into the Monty Python Four Yorkshiremen sketch:
“You were lucky. We lived for three months in a paper bag in a septic tank. We used to have to get up at six in the morning, clean the paper bag, eat a crust of stale bread, go to work down t’ mill, fourteen hours a day, week-in week-out, for sixpence a week, and when we got home Peter Lawwell would thrash us to sleep wi’ his belt.” I’m pretty sure that’s how I remember it.
Football is a zero sum game and where one giant club disintegrates, others see opportunity. Young players with talent and options will not stay.
Celtic were able to use the arbitrage permitted to them with not being bound by transfer rules between two FA member clubs. That money, perhaps in the region of £5m a piece for Shaw and Urhoghide, went on wage offers outbidding clubs from England. It’s a rerun of the Dembele deal from four years ago.
I have been saying for years the Championship is the most dysfunctional league in the world. It also causes Scottish Premiership clubs more trouble than any other. Where Wednesday have gone, others will follow. It is a morality tale in the making.