The assembly of Celtic-2015-16 continued apace yesterday with the arrival of Saidy Janko (19) from on a four year contract. Saidy spent the second half of last season on loan to Bolton Wanderers, under Neil Lennon, in one of the game’s most bizarre transfers.
Manchester United were happy to allow Janko to go to Bolton in the winder transfer window but his absence would have left their U21 team short. They needed a defender so Bolton offered Andy Kellett. Kellett had only been in the field a total of 85 minutes in his Bolton career and had been farmed out to Portsmouth earlier in the season. So it came as a surprise when Neil Lennon called to say “Pack your stuff, you’re going on loan to Manchester United”.
Saidy arrived in Manchester from Zurich as a 17-year-old right back but now plays all right-side positions. There are things I like about this transfer: he’s been watched by the manager and scouts and was high on the wanted list. The success rate of players who have been well-scouted is vastly better than players who arrive after glowing references from respected names in the game, but where the Lennoxtown guys have only seen rare glimpses of the target.
It’s heartening to read glowing references from those who have watched him in England but references don’t mean he’ll make it at Celtic.
The use of New St Mirren Park by Celtic for a friendly game was not in itself controversial. Before being liquidated, Rangers used the same venue for youth games, and Celtic have often used Excelsior Stadium Airdrie for the same purpose.
But when photos emerged early yesterday of Celtic livery above the club shop, temporarily stocked with Celtic merchandise, it stirred something within St Mirren fans. They don’t mind their stadium being used by another club in return for cash, but for some, sensitivities need to be observed.
I can’t say I was remotely bothered by Commonwealth Games livery at Celtic Park last year, nor would I have raised an eyebrow to the Celtic Superstore being handed over for the sale of Commonwealth memorabilia, very few of us were. However, I have some sympathy for St Mirren fans. We were in a position of strength when we agreed to the Commonwealth deal, St Mirren have just been relegated and most fans expect their stay in the Championship to be more than a single season.
Yesterday’s livery was an indication of St Mirren’s place in the world, not so much a Celtic competitor, more a facilitator, who survived for years on a dividend from Celtic fans’ TV subscriptions.
Paisley is big enough to support a vibrant community club, but it’s too close to Glasgow to build an independently resourced competitor, they are not an Aberdeen, Dundee United, Dundee (maybe still), Hibs or Hearts. We have a handful of economically viable tier one football clubs and should nurture them accordingly, while aligning community clubs to focus on what should be their strengths.
Imagine, for a second, TV money concentrated on six clubs, not 42. These clubs would harvest the talent from a community feeder system and have the opportunity to build a sustainable businesses.