Last year it was the Ange Homecoming Tour to Sydney. In the summer, we are off to Ange’s more recent home, Japan, as well as Korea. Stuck in a small league with a TV deal that is predicated on the value of a handful of games, we need to look for new markets.
I know there has been some scepticism at the club that there will be sustainable commercial value in Japan. As we know well, players can go as quick as they came, which makes it precarious to plan Asian tours on having a local interest to sell. Still, we have a responsibility to try.
Kyogo, Daizen Maeda, Reo Hatate, Tomoki Iwata all featured in Sunday’s Scottish Cup semi-final. Yuki Kobayashi was on the bench and is set to play in our remaining six fixtures this season, including the Cup Final. While Celtic still hold the registration of Yosuke Ideguchi, he is on loan in his homeland and is unlikely to return to Glasgow. That’s five players from Japan with successful narratives about Celtic to Japanese consumers, players and agents. Japan’s representation in next season’s Champions League will overwhelmingly come through Celtic.
Demographics are important. There are 125m people in Japan, 23 times more than Scotland, and on average, they have far more disposable income. Madrid, Munich and the EPL will always get most eyeballs there, but we are now in the conversation. A great deal of work has also been put into the commercial side, before we even reached this stage. We have travelled to Japan and business contacts have come to Celtic Park.
Penetration of the South Korea market is in gestation, by comparison. Hyeongyu Oh is only just in the door and there are no hard suggestions we will sign more of his compatriots. Still, it is another large (population 51m) and wealthy market.
The great migration of Scots to North America began to wind down 40 years ago, it is unlikely that market will contribute as much to the club going forward as it has since the onset of internet access and multi-channel TV. If there is nothing to be achieved in foreign markets, fair enough, but as I said, we have to try.
Road to Seville
It’s just three days until the cyclists leave from Celtic Park bound for Seville. Today we hear from Brian O’Shea, who started cycling just three years ago and now faces an unimaginable task – all to aid the work of the Celtic FC Foundation. You can hear Brian’s story below, and just as importantly, you can support the work of the Foundation, your Foundation, here.
Many thanks for all the support towards the cyclists. Keep in touch with their journey on Twitter: @Road2Seville23