On Sunday, Celtic claimed their seventh title in a row by thrashing bitter rivals and one time biggest competition for the Scottish Premier League title, Rangers 5-0 at Celtic Park. The score might look like a comprehensive victory, but the truth is that the scoreline of 5-0 flattered the Gers and the result could have been so much more comprehensive.
Despite this, Rangers are still one of the stronger sides in the SPL along with Aberdeen and Hibernian and were still comfortable beaten by Celtic. It has been clear for a long time that Brendan Rodgers’ side are far and away the strongest side in Scotland, so more often than not the question is brought up as to how they would get on playing in the current English Premier League if they were to do as Cardiff, Swansea, Newport and Wrexham have and start playing across the border.
Often, the suggestion that Celtic could do well in England is sneered at. Pundits and supporters believe that they’ve been playing too long in a ‘pub league’ and the transition to playing in a league with the likes of Man City, Man United and Liverpool would be too big a jump and their players are nowhere near good enough to compete. There have even been suggestions from some fans that they’d struggle to compete with Sunderland and Burton Albion at the bottom of the Championship.
Obviously this view is incredibly black and white and doesn’t take into account many factors that would come into place were Celtic playing in the Premier League, but imagining they did swap straight across with the playing squad they’ve got now, I still don’t believe they’d do as badly as many people believe.
One reason for this is their experience in Europe. Whilst, admittedly, Celtic haven’t done a lot in Europe in recent years, last season they faced the current Premier League champions, Manchester City, and held them to two draws, including a 3-3 draw in which Rodgers’ pressing tactics disrupted Pep Guardiola’s style of play resulting in a very exciting game. This was achieved not only due to Rodgers’ excellent tactical set up, but also because Celtic Park creates a fantastic atmosphere and it brings a great togetherness and spirit to the whole club from the fans up. This spirit and togetherness is often shown to be missing in clubs that get relegated or underachieve in the Premier League and I believe it would be harder to lose this from Celtic than many other clubs.
Furthermore, there is the fact that Celtic would definitely strengthen their playing squad were they to play in England. Such is the Premier League’s international popularity that more money has been pumped into this league, therefore allowing the likes of Stoke City to sign Xherdan Shaqiri. Well this money coming in on top of the money Celtic can already generate due to their being one of the best supported clubs in Europe would easily allow them to buy players to compete in England. In addition to this, players would see Celtic as a much more attractive side to play for, as many players say they’ve dreamed of playing in the Premier League and there is a great deal of respect for Celtic and Celtic fans worldwide.
So overall, despite many people laughing at the idea of Celtic competing in the Premier League due to the perceived weakness of their current league and the ease at which they win it, I believe that Celtic could very quickly adapt to the Premier League. Of course, this is all hypothetical at the moment, but it would be very interesting to see Celtic play in the Premier League, as I believe they could prove a lot of doubters wrong and continue to be the prestigious club they are already.