Here’s how it works. Celtic tell agents the profile of players they are looking for, who subsequently send their client’s CVs and DVDs back. If one fits the profile (for example: a central defender, with pace, wage budget £X, transfer budget £Y), then he is retained for consideration.
Some retained for consideration make it onto ‘the list’. Celtic actively pursue these players, usually more than one per requirement, as they know how deals can fall through. If players start to drop off the list, either because they have not performed to standard when scouted, or Celtic’s approach is declined, names are added to the list from those retained for consideration.
That ‘retained for consideration’ folder generates more advertising revenue than anything else in football. Lots of people are incentivised to link a name to Celtic (or many other clubs). The agent can legitimately tell a journalist he’s spoken to Celtic about a player, the journalist can then trail the transfer saga for weeks, its rise, climax and last minute hitch, will generate millions of hits. This is called Click Bait, you are the target.
Consider the near certainty of the reporting that Jelle Vossen was about to sign for Celtic. The Genk striker matches Celtic’s criteria in several areas: he’s a striker, they will be able to afford his wages and transfer fee, they have received information on him. Hundreds of articles have been written on this basis alone, generating thousands of pounds of advertising revenue.
The problem is, Jelle Vossen isn’t on ‘the list’. His CV is stuck in a folder somewhere at Lennoxtown, not currently under consideration. Celtic are not actively pursuing his services.
Danny Wilson? Never made it onto the list. His agent got a courteous response “months ago” when first asked if there was interest. Danny’s CV is in the same folder Jelle’s is in. When I spoke to a senior source at the club yesterday, the player is so far off radar, the source couldn’t even remember Wilson’s name when I asked about Celtic being rejected in favour of a newco.
The PR behind the message sent out with Wilson’s signing was inspired. Some of the reporting was shameful. The days of being able to twist a story against Celtic without consequence are gone. The BBC recanted one story (at the insistence of reporter Alasdair Lamont). Sky Sports News gave Neil McCann a stage for utter guff on Wilson rejecting Celtic, while much of the print and online media quickly moved on, not caring one way or the other.
The episode reminded me of the almost universal line the media took the day Neil Lennon resigned – unhappy at Celtic’s transfer budget, apparently. This message was never attributed but it was reported so widely, you could trace the manipulation. We even had the Usual Brigade of ex-Celts ready to express their disappointment at the club’s financial decisions. Economic illiterates, to a man. The story was nonsense and almost certainly came from the same source as Wilson’s rejection.
There are strikers on Celtic’s list, but if the agent’s talking to the media, chances are, he’s not talking to Celtic anymore.
Here’s a Bob Dylan singing Like a Rolling Stone, especially for Neil McCann. How does it feel………?