The start of the season has been decidedly underwhelming for Glasgow Celtic, as they sit ten points off Scottish Premier League leaders Rangers after just ten games, and lurch in and out of the Europa League like a drunken street brawler, taking demoralising blows against almost all opponents.
It seems, like in the Europa League, where Celtic were reinstated after Swiss Club FC Sion were found guilty of fielding ineligible players, they might be gifted some unbelievable luck in the SPL too should Glasgow Rangers’ case over a 49 Million pound tax bill go against them.
That would almost certainly force Rangers into administration, a result that would see them suffer a point’s deduction.
While Rangers ‘bullish new owner Craig Whyte continues to insist that he is confident of winning both legal cases currently facing the club, you would be forgiven for thinking the Revenue do not undertake such cases lightly.
But the ‘misunderstandings’ faced by Sion and Rangers have merely created a smokescreen for the downward spiral occurring in the East End of Glasgow.
Despite a very promising end to last season, lifting the Scottish Cup and pushing Rangers all the way in the title race, they now find themselves adrift in the unfamiliar position of third place, four points behind the mighty Motherwell, albeit with two games in hand.
Previous Celtic teams would never find themselves three goals down against Kilmarnock in the first place, so the team cannot justify celebrating an unlikely comeback in any fashion.
It seems to me that this season the dire European campaign is a distraction the Hoops could do without, with Rangers free to concentrate fully on their domestic campaign. It has not gone un-noticed that each of Celtic’ three defeats this season have come after European games, a trend that was curbed on Sunday when they beat Aberdeen 2-1.
At the heart of the current crisis, is, as usual, a chronic lack of foresight and investment by the current board. With Rangers having been in financial limbo for the last few seasons, Celtic matched their cross city rivals self destruction by expensively courting the man no one else wanted, Tony Mowbray and then, letting him rip the heart out of team before quickly and ignominiously departing.
As a result, Lennon was admittedly left with a great deal to do upon his arrival but the initial impetus his passionate approach brought has died down and reality has set in.
The current squad is simply not good enough to compete on a domestic level, with the dead wood cleared out by Lennon replaced inadequately by bargain basement deals from the Championship.
The days of rubbing shoulders and competing with the likes of Barcelona and Milan in Parkhead in the Champions League seem like a very distant era.
We’ve all heard endlessly of the lack of TV money in the Scottish game, but if Celtic wants to ever return to the lucrative stages of European competition, investment is a must.
Not surprisingly, revenue was down last year for Celtic, partly due to the briefness of their European involvement, and Celtic surely cannot rely on the enormous loyalty of their fans forever.
It is a remarkable testament to that loyalty that the Hoops can rake in so much from season ticket sales year after year.
But that will surely change should Celtic fail to even compete domestically this year. With their hands firmly in their pockets, the financial “prudence” of the board may finally kill the golden goose that is the twenty million or so from season ticket sales.
Let’s hope they heed the warnings before it’s too late and bring in some real talent, talent that will inevitably cost money but will ultimately bring success.