Celtic are fast closing in on the tally of league titles attained by cross-Glasgow rivals Rangers. Once the ‘Bhoys’ have reached and breached that number, and overtaken Rangers in terms of head-to-head league wins, there will be little else for the men in hoops to aim for in the Scottish Premiership.
Caption: Religion in the city, and the divide between traditionally Catholic (Celtic) and Protestant (Rangers) fanbases, is a major bastion of the rivalry away from the pitch. Shown above, Celtic lost their most recent clash with Rangers 2-1, putting their all-time league record in the fixture at: 110 won, 87 drawn, 122 lost.
Time for a change?
Though the rivalry (known as the ‘Old Firm’ derby) is a jewel in the crown of Glasgow’s culture, there are some fans out there who believe that its competitive spirit has stagnated in light of Celtic’s dominance. Thus, a common topic for debate is whether or not Celtic should seriously consider entering the English football system.
With Welsh clubs Cardiff and Swansea each enjoying spells in the Premier League over the past decade, and Newport enjoying a run in the FA Cup last year, such a move would not be entirely without precedent. Beyond that, this hypothetical situation becomes fascinating and controversial in equal measure.
Even though Celtic have more experience in the UEFA Champions League than most of the English PL put together, competing with the usual football betting outright favorites in the Premier League would almost certainly be beyond Celtic. Indeed, Celtic’s last competitive victory over an English side notably came back in November 2006:
Personnel with a difference
Such is the disparity between the respective top-flight leagues of Scotland and England, the Scottish Premiership is now seen as something of a proving ground for the products of English youth academies. Certainly, since the appointment of Steven Gerrard as Rangers manager, a number of youths from Liverpool’s setup have flocked to learn their trade under the Anfield legend.
In addition to nurturing great talents like Odsonne Edouard, Celtic’s coaches have also done their bit to give the English PL talents of tomorrow a chance to grow and prove themselves at a senior level. Those who are willing to have a shot of Champions League action every year – in lieu of serious competition on the domestic scene – invariably end up staying.
As a man with connections to the Premier League through his playing days, current Celtic manager Neil Lennon would boost Celtic’s chances of English PL survival at the very least. He knows the rigors of England’s top flight, and has never failed to ingrain a win-at-all-costs mentality within his players.
Caption: Lennon famously won the Football League Cup with Leicester back in 1997.
‘Vox Populi’ has the final word
The commonly held belief amongst fans is that Celtic would end up around mid-table, with predictions generally ranging from relegation to a UEFA Europa League berth.
While Lennon is seen as more of an emotive motivator than a quiet tactician – in contrast to his Celtic predecessor Brendan Rodgers – he would at least have enough in his playbook to keep the Glasgow giants afloat in the English top flight.
One further issue for another day is where exactly Celtic would enter the English football pyramid. Some fans have said that Celtic entering the Premier League directly would prove too disruptive, though it is unlikely that Celtic would entertain the idea of slogging through the lower leagues just to get some serious domestic competition.
Ultimately, this is a conundrum to last for generations…