State of the Club Report: year end 2015


2015 saw Celtic win our fourth consecutive league title, a feat achieved only twice before in our history: 1908 and 1969. The 1908 win came during Willie Maley’s team’s imperious 10 titles in 13 seasons. The 1969 win, by one of our greatest teams, preceded our second run to the 1970 European Cup final, where we lost to Feyenoord in Milan.

It was only on reflection that we realised 1970 was a turning point for Celtic. Jock Stein’s teams eliminated the champions of Italy, Portugal and England that season, a far more testing journey than the team of 1966-67 endured. Until that point, only Celtic and Real Madrid outside those three countries had won the European Cup, but Martin O’Neill would be manager the next time Celtic eliminated a team from what we now know as Europe’s major five leagues.

We knew nothing of that in 1970. Indeed, Celtic won a further four consecutive league titles, but others were laying better foundations. Our model was copied, improved upon, and eventually rendered irrelevant. Celtic travelled to Milan for that European Cup final in 1970 with the whole of Europe expecting to them win. We were the top team in Europe, clearly heading in the right direction. Or so it was thought.

The reality was that we were facing the wrong direction, we just didn’t know it.

There are parallels between 1970 and now. Four in a row is appreciated by those of us who craved a quarter of this achievement in the 1990s, but our domestic dominance is such, that we all look to Europe for that extra fix. Now, it’s not a European Cup final defeat we’re lamenting, we’ve been exposed by lesser-resourced teams as we bombed in the Europa League.

Apart from the fourth title, and five-in-a-row looking a comfortable certainty, the other portents have us heading south. Two seasons of Champions League football have been followed by two of Europa League, with performances dropping each consecutive season. What we don’t know is whether what’s happening on the surface is indicative of the foundations we’ve been laying for 18 months.

Herein lies the issue: the fruits of Ronny Deila’s labours are not evident, not on the surface, anyway. There are some positive portents: he’s improved Nir Bitton, blooded Kieran Tierney and given Leigh Griffiths the stage his talent needed, but this season spaces in our defence have been as wide as the Clyde, and just as worryingly, the transfer success hit rate has been abysmally poor.

Fixing the former problem should be achievable, Ronny has taken teams to the Milan, Amsterdam and Istanbul and defended professionally (if not successfully), but fixing the ineffective transfer strategy will be more difficult. It’s not clear why we’re misfiring, or whether we can amend our ways. Throwing more money at the problem may improve things, but the problem is not fundamentally finance, Malmo and Maribor both operate on a fraction of our expenditure.

There are mitigating circumstances for our recruitment woes. Unlike Malmo and Maribor who take time to develop teams, we’ve been buying first team players for years, and the market has moved away from us at a remarkable rate over the last five years.

A decade ago only a few teams in England could outbid us, and they didn’t compete directly for talent with us anyway. We’ve now living in an era when Stoke City sign top internationals from Bayern Munich, and England is not the only league which is drifting away.

Mitigating circumstances are all fine and well, but that’s the challenge for Celtic. Work smarter, find the untapped scouts, be better than those with more money than they know what to do with.

2016 will bring another title and possibly one or two cups, but as 1 January approaches I’m hopeful the lessons learned in the transfer market since 2014 are put into practice.

Have a fantastic New Year.

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  1. 67 European Cup Winners on

    Paul67 – thank you and a happy New Year to you and yours



    I must confess your latest posts (last 5 or 6) have disillusioned me a little – I sensed you were part of the clubs PR department – consequently I dropped your normal 10 out of 10 rating down to 9.5


    However your last post of 2015 has rectified your position to its normal 10 out of 10 – a great summary of a “delicate” year




  2. AIDEN BHOY on 31ST DECEMBER 2015 7:55 PM









    Then shouldn’t the board be on top of that ?



    Again, I am open to correction..



    As far as I am aware. like others in a similar position, PL is employed on the basis of providing plc with results broadly in line with other similar sized companies.



    As long as he is doing this, Board might find itself on a sticky wicket trying to alter terms of his employment. Other option might be to simply bag him. This in turn could lead to PL getting a grip of a smart employment lawyer.


    Only my opinion.



    – See more at:

  3. If we get one player from the academy through the ranks and into the first team every couple of year the cost of it will be well worth it, if we get several through the academy and move on for a little profit it will generally cover cost, oh and the youths use the same centre as first team so the running cost remain significant and the academy is further financed from the Celtic pools and halftime raffle at Celtic park, keep the system but use it better, hh

  4. Calling a halt until next year.


    Never thought that I would finish year even remotely defending both PL and Board.


    TD will have a heart attack if he reads this.




    Don’t agree with a lot that happens at the club , but in general I think the guy’s done a decent job.

  6. Rowley Birkin QC on

    Some man that magic hat manager of sevco – just held the door open in chequers cocktail house in the weztend for mrs b. Happy nee year bhoys

  7. Stephbhoy



    We must have made a fair few bob from the players we have sold through the academy ?

  8. Quonno,



    I looked at an analysis of Lawwells compensation at the club since becoming CEO. He has deferred bonuses and takes them when timing suits. He has never waived bonuses to my knowledge.



    Lawwell has been interfering in the Managers area of responsibility since he told Bobo to find a club. Bobos ‘agent’ had to break the news to WGS.



    Out of the 18 players who have joined Celtic in the last 2 years how many were PL/JP signings versus Ronny. Was Carlton Cole a Ronny signing…had RD ever heard off him. From what I hear Carlton Cole is a Lawwell panic signing. It means Lawwell knows he has been rumbled.



    Lawwell is praying for Sevcos return. It will stop the rot…as a Moravick67 goals flick declares. Then we are back in the horror movie of sectarian bile and hatred. That will be Lawwells legacy along with his tacit support of the 5 way agreement. Can you imagine Lawwell surviving under a straight shooter like Fergus. Fergus would have squeezed him into a cannon and launched him toward hampden as an advance warning. It would have been the perfect first foot of 2016.

  9. ....PFayr supports WeeOscar on

    Keep the academy …but play the youth …stop buying crap and other teams pseudo stars

  10. ....PFayr supports WeeOscar on




    If Lawwell were a board puppet ..Keane would have been the manager …

  11. PF AYR



    Will our support be patient enough to bring these boys through. We’re a tough crowd to play in front of.

  12. ....PFayr supports WeeOscar on

    Aidan Bhoy



    They couldn’t any worse than Cifcti , GMS etc…at least they might be cfc fans

  13. What is the Stars on

    Would Keane have been worse than Ronny.


    I didn’t want Roy as manager at the time by the way. .

  14. PFAyr,



    I agree that PL ensured that Dermots fellow Corkman Keane did not get the job. Listening to Keane it appears the “interview” by PL spooked Keane in terms of budget, authority etc



    I would imagine Keane would have sounded out Martin O’Neill and maybe Dermot himself over what to do. It has probably made sense he has matured in the Irish Team management role and it is not a coincidence that Martin O’Neil was lauding Keanes Impact after Ireland’s qualification.



    It follows on that I also agree that Ronny is a Lawwell appointment. It did not surprise me at the recent AGM Lawwell handcuffed himself to Ronny. After blocking Keane he needs to ensure his puppet succeeds. I wouldn’t be surprised if Lawwell is chasing more projects in January or a slimline Carlton Cole. Let’s see if Dermot sanctions player no 19 in the ongoing recruitment circus. When you look at the revolving door of ins/outs at Celtic …there are several good websites with the details….there is no real stability or trend evident. It’s make it up as you go along. As mentioned in Paul67 leader recruitment has gone awry….and it will not get better anytime soon. That ship has sailed under PL/JP.

  15. 16 roads - Celtic über alles... on

    Big Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink – there was another Celtic player those hun miscreants loved to hate.



    Also booked by the mib vultures nearly every game that he scored a goal.



    God bless JVOH!







  16. glendalystonsils on

    The trouble with that revolving door is that the ‘ins’ that are coming in are not going ‘oot’ as fast as they should be, once we realise that they should never have come ‘in’ in the first place.

  17. West End of East End on

    What is the Stars on 31st December 2015 8:31 pm



    Would Keane have been worse than Ronny.


    I didn’t want Roy as manager at the time by the way. .




    WITS – You should have said instead of keeping it to yourself….:-)

  18. ....PFayr supports WeeOscar on




    I notice you didn’t offer the George Square streak this year :-))



    The invite remains re the races

  19. Aiden Bhoy on 31st December 2015 8:44 pm






    So who holds the balance of power at Celtic ? Lawwell or Desmond ?




    It depends on what suits their argument today, contradiction isn’t a problem they just go with the flow. DD PL Ronny and Park, take a ticket.



    David Bowie – Life On Mars?


  20. Aidenbhoy, no doubt the academy has earned celtic money and will continue to do so, even small player development fees add up Irvine etc.., and them you add boys like watt who come for what 50k and are punted for 1.2 million, without academy we cant bring in him, cant give him game time and thus lose out, feruz also made us tidy profit



    in last three years we have seen Tierney, mcgregor, henderson and to a lesser degree, fisher, oconnoll and findlay all progress through the academy.



    with 18 year old aiden nesbett tipped to be the next academy player to make the breakthrough.



    the soccer school is interesting as there is no doubt it is a big draw for parents and kids who aspire success in football.



    we have operated the soccer school programme for about, what 6 years, so 10 or so kids start in first year of high school aged 11/12, add 6 years and those kids are still only 17/18 years old, the fruit of that venture takes time and certainly longer than 6 years.



    the programmes in its infancy and people talk about pulling it, please!!! i would presume that as a new venture it would take the best part of 2 to 3 years to really develop it into a robust system.



    i imagine it will take another 4 years before we can judge the soccer schools effectiveness in producing first team players



    all the signs point towards the academy delivering young player. the longer it is operational the more players go through the system the more likely it is that we will see the outlay returned in first team player and/ or development fee/ sell on fees




  21. i'vehadtochangemyname on




    from much earlier (I’m losing laptop time to minecraft) – I see your point , in fact it might explain what looks like a drop in quality. I’d love to see all our purchases versus an epl’s and compare both to first team appearances. In other words – do we have buy more or less than others to get a goo first 11 out ?



    Best wishes for the new year cqn !

  22. Stephbhoy



    Totally agree from MON years till now there are a lot of players came through the academy . Not all of them have been a success at Celtic but made decent careers for themselves elsewhere .

  23. Hunderbirds are Gone on

    Thanks to Paul and everyone who contributes time and effort to maintaining and operating the blog. As I head in to my first New Year on here, I can truly say I have enjoyed it. Mineshafters and Happy Clappers alike, thank you for your views, I have enjoyed the spats, the insights, the humour and the prose.



    Happy New Year to Celts everywhere and at midnight tonight I will be thankful, and raise a glass to my family, my friends, my Club and to our success in 2016



    ⚽️ Hail Hail everybody :-)

  24. Truth_Beauty_and_Freedom on



    …with the whole of Europe/Scotland expecting to them win… and…


    5-in-a-row a comfortable certainty…





    First post of the Festive Season, so can I take this opportunity to wish you and your family Paul67, and everyone and their families who frequent this Blessed site a belated Merry Christmas and an Amazing 2016! ☺



    Having said that, I can’t help but feel Paul that you have just written the Team Talks for Hearts and Aberdeen for the remainder of the Season! If I were the Hearts or Aberdeen Manager I would be using your words to remind my team that upsets against the odds are always possible, and that against this particularly vulnerable Celtic team, Victory is certainly not so far-fetched. As for 5-in-a-row being a ‘comfortable certainty’,

  25. blantyretim is praying for the Knox family on

    Sitting here with mini trying to get me drunk so that I take her to TITP next year to see the Stone Roses



    I’ll be 16 dad says she..

  26. Well, I wish Paul67 and everyone a very happy New year.



    If I have one wish it is that CQN return in 2016 to what it was. Oh, and that those posters too many to name who are sorely missed return to entertain and enlighten us rather than the constant ad hominem attacks which have passed for contributions far too often in 2015.



    Good night and God bless you all.

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