State of the Club, December 2022


My friends in Celtic, 2022 was not the transformational year 2021 was, but the heavy lifting on that front had already been done.  We saw the return of the league title, the League Cup and Champions League group stage football.  Of the main annual objectives, only the Scottish Cup escaped.

The summer’s transfer business was limited to securing loan signings who were already at the club and enhancing the squad.  None of the newly recruited players in the last window have made it to regular starter status.  Sead Haksabanovic (23) looks very much at home in a Celtic strip, while Alexandro Bernabei (21) will continue to improve.

Michael Nicholson continues his habit of signing players early in the transfer window, or in the case of Alasdair Johnston, Yuki Kobayashi and Tomoki Iwata, before the window opens on 1 January.  It is a great help to get them in early but know it will not always be possible.

We have gorged on the Japanese market.  The player count now stands at six, with a Greek-Australian manager recruited from Yokohama.  The return on investment from Japan has been significantly higher than what would be possible in the UK, or perhaps anywhere in Europe.  The Law of Diminishing Returns has to kick in eventually.  Can Ange’s sixth signing from Japan be as effective as his first?  When will a flood of others see what we are doing in Japan and close the value gap?

Football is never stable.  What works today will not work the same in future, we need to continue to learn about new value markets.  For now, we need to exploit the commercial opportunities available from having so many Japanese players on the books.  Get to Japan in the summer, Celtic.

Some years ago you and I discussed how little Big Club experience our backroom team had.  For most, Celtic was by some way their biggest club.  This meant our learning was from less-resourced places.  That changed when Brendan Rodgers arrived in 2016.  It was as though the lights were switched on.  Training and preparations were upgraded.  I heard the returning Neil Lennon was so impressed he pretty-much kept the same tune playing.

While Brendan did great things here, he never got recruitment right.  At significant expense, he appointed a head of recruitment who had bombed elsewhere and did no better at Celtic.  Brendan made players better, but his signings success or fail metric was unflattering.  As when at Liverpool, he played the fans and media to his own benefit at Celtic.  As at Liverpool, he was soon found out by both here too.

Our head of recruitment, Mark Lawwell, came from a similar role at City Group, where he worked with Ange at their Japanese stable club, Yokohama.  City Group are the best-resourced football operation on the planet.  Their knowledge led to Ange being appointed at Celtic and the subsequent flow of players from Japan.  We recruited a whole lot of corporate learning when Mark (formally) joined this year, his influence has already been transformational.

2022 did not see significant funds come in from player sales, a revenue stream that has kept the ship sailing in previous years.  This has to change going forward.  If we are to make genuine steps to improve, we have to recruit well and sell at a large profit.  Anything else is like playing Abide with Me on the deck.  Should one or two leave in January, it will be interesting to see what they go for.  This will tell you as much about our forward prospects as the league table at that time.

You can never master everything in sport.  Newco’s run to the Europa League Final (even typing this, I still cannot believe it) demonstrated what can be achieved by a club with smaller resources that we have.  Reading the reviews of their recruitment head, you would think he has failed, which is not true.  His recruits delivered a European final and some left for huge money.  Still, while we have to be respectful of what this opponent can do (including on Monday), I don’t think we should be spooked by them.

They lost tens of millions for years to keep a team together, while some players got old, some lost form and others ran down their contracts.  That model was low on short-term risk, delivering two domestic trophies and several good European runs, but left them with a squad with reduced resale value and under Uefa financial monitoring.

We will never win everything but getting the strategic direction of the club right – as I believe we have – will ensure we win more than most, perhaps more than everyone else put together.  There remains a lot of work to do to win the league and earn the lucrative Champions League qualification prize.  This cannot be taken for granted, not for a couple of days anyway, at least.  A few bad decisions, or poor form, and all could be lost, impinging on our structural dominance.

Celtic are focused on being in the right place when the Champions League restructures in 18 months.  Being there will be crucial on our prospects for the next decade.  The next step on that journey is on Monday.  Enjoy it.

Take care and have a great 2023.

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  1. SCULLYBHOY on 31ST DECEMBER 2022 7:44 PM


    EL is an unrepentant Brit






    I’m in favour of a united Ireland.




    But I’m not an Anti-Semite.



    And I’m not a proto Fascist.



    And, as you no doubt know, Sean South was both of those things.



    So I hope we never see a united Ireland of the kind Sean South wanted.

  2. Evening all.



    Wishing everyone a healthy and prosperous New Year.



    I’ll be tucked up in ‘ma cot when the bells ring in the New Year, much prefer Christmas.



    Looking forward to meeting up with my pals on Friday at The Ship Bank, if you can make it, get along, I guarantee you will enjoy it.



    C’mon Celtic, do that mob on Monday, 0-3, the good guys.



    Hail Hail.




  3. Tom McLaughlin


    Twice I have logged on today ,and both times I have seen your disrespectful calling of our Holy Father ,both by age and title .


    Please refrain,I am just home from Mass ,I wish you and your family all the best for 2023 HH.

  4. Tom McLaughlin on 31st December 2022 6:55 pm



    AN DUN









    Pele was indeed a former player.


















    Monday at Ibrox is a FOOTBALL match, not a religious pilgrimage.









    I you’re going to call for a minute’s silence for Benedict, at least be honest about your reasons instead of hiding behind pseodo decency.




    Who did Princess Di, the Queen mother, Prince Phillip and Queen Elizabeth play for, Tom ?

  5. All the best to all posters and lurkers when it comes. May 2023 bring you all your needs.


    Goodnight and thank you for being here. HH



    I’m curious, what team did The Queen play for ? We rightly paid her respect




    AN DUN


    Who did Princess Di, the Queen mother, Prince Phillip and Queen Elizabeth play for, Tom ?





    Chapeaux, gentlemen.

  7. What is the Starz on



    Sean South may well have held some pretty disturbing views but he was part of a group who included Sean Garland (later a leader of the “left wing” official Ira, which morphed into The Workers Party) who would have advocated for a cross working class unity .It also included Daithi O’Connell who was I think later Chief of Staff of the Provisional IRA.


    They were a diverse group ,many still teenagers,Who believed passionately in what they were trying to achieve. They may well have been misguided in their thinking and indeed the way the “border campaign ” of 56-62 fizzled out would seem to prove this.


    However had they succeeded I doubt very much that Sean South’s proto fascist views would have come to the fore.


    By the way Packie Tierney died a couple of weeks ago in his 80s in a nursing home in Bray.Originally from Fermanagh I think he might have been the last surviving member of the “lorry load of volunteers “.


    I may be wrong though

  8. To all the Bhoys and Girls on this blog a Happy New Year,thanks for all your comments,cheeky ones to,and remember it’s just our opinions ,🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿☘️☘️🥳🥳

  9. Something is obviously wrong with my iPhone. I think I’ll check out here.



    Happy New Year to all Celtic fans and CQNers wherever you may be in the World. I hope that 2023 is a blessed year for you and your families.



    Hail! Hail!

  10. Sean South was a devout Catholic who lived in pre second Vatican Council days. His views were main stream Church teaching.



    It was a different time to today where we have pro abortionists like Joe Biden described as devout.

  11. What is the Starz on

    An Dun


    I think Sean South’s views were more than “main stream” Church teaching.


    The Catholic Church teaching of the time was bad enough and we are still recovering from the Conservative stranglehold they once held over Irish society.Thankfully now gone.But South belonged to the lunatic fringe



    Re books:You are most welcome.🇮🇪👍🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿


    ●Happy new year to all at CQN● to those who post and lurk●

  13. I’m sat downstairs on me own with vino, jemmie and cqn – couldn’t resist putting Blazin Saddles on – I’m in heaven.

  14. WTF is that on the bbc a national embarrassment thats what it is, who the hell thinks this is funny!!!!!


    jesus wept.

  15. I don’t know when Match of the Day started using their signature tune, I think they might have stolen it from BBC World Cup coverage in 1970


    But I know I’ve been listening to it for lots and lots of years, and, I still think it’s the best football tv program theme tune ever. It evokes so so many memories, and not just football memories. Memories from my childhood, youth and more. Brilliant.


    Time for Jools Hootenany

  16. Bhoyjoebelfast on 31st December 2022 11:21 pm









    Re books:You are most welcome.🇮🇪👍🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿






    ●Happy new year to all at CQN● to those who post and lurk●





    Just finished a lovely meal courtesy of my eldest daughter. I only returned to posting because of you and I felt guilty after your incredible generosity – I am still working my way through those fabulous books – please feel free to take them back as family heirlooms. You are a very genuine guy as is Antearmann. I wish you good health in 2023.

  17. I stopped reading when i got to



    “Chris Whitty is not the Government. If there was any confirmed link between the vax and increased heart issues- he would be publishing it and governments could not stop it. ”



    Make sure you feed the unicorns in the shed when you get home.



    Trust you are well.Books are for your enjoyment and I do believe they have found a good home.May I wish you and all you hold close to you a HAPPY NEW YEAR.All being well,we shall meet up again on the Falls for a tea or coffee in the not too distant future.

  19. A very Happy New Year to Paul and family and to all Cqners May this year bring us all peace and happiness. Above all, all the trophies that can be won. A great Celtic year to all.

  20. My friends in Celtic,



    From the bottom of my heart, I wish you all a happy New Year.


    God bless.

  21. ScullyBhoy: keep posting here. You are a very positive contributor to this site and I always enjoy your posts, even if I don’t respond to them.