Beram battles the Glory at NIB.
The mooted expansion by Celtic into the NASL, the 2nd tier of football in the United states is an interesting one but one that looks below a club of Celtics stature. Why should we play in a lower league where there is no direct avenue for promotion? The club could be pigeon holed for generations below. Furthermore we cant play in the Irish heartland of Boston or NY. Boston Celtics basketball team has an agreement prohibiting us from starting a franchise there and NY has a glut of teams making it a risky venture.
An option exists in Australia to expand but this would need rapid movement. Simply, the games stakeholders in Australia’s A League are contemplating restructuring, with the Wellington Phoenix experiment to be terminated and a new franchise to be brought in elsewhere. There is of course Melbourne City FC, the rebranded version of Melbourne Heart FC who were bought out by the City Football Group.
Now Oldco Rangers bought a franchise known as Northern Spirit FC in the rich end of Sydney back in the early 2000s which went bankrupt much as their parent club did and like their parent club their fans established a Newco: Spirit FC that now plies its way in the lower divisions. So there are risks. Which brings us to the point, where would such an investment play its football?
Sydney and Melbourne both have 2 teams in the A league and the stakeholders Down Under seem hell bent on establishing derbies in the other capitals before taking on regional expansion. This brings 2 possible options for a Celtic team, Perth and Brisbane. Brisbane has a team that’s going to the wall owned by a club of Dutch origins; Hollandia and even though it has won the A League title more than any other team it has less than 5000 members.
The smarter option would be Perth. The Glory have a similar amount of members but have never really emulated the success of their NSL years. Club factionalism is rife and the supporters are discontent to say the least. Perth is itself a very rich city on the back of the state of Western Australia’s vast mining wealth and this wealth has attracted many people from Britain and Ireland who have settled in the City which is the shortest flight back to the UK or Ireland.
Celtic fans from Perth welcome the Bhoys out to play the Glory.
Celtic have played Perth Glory before and drew more than 10,000 to the game. The largest CSC in Australia is Perth CSC which have their own team Perth Celtic. In other sports when Australia have played both International rules, a hybrid between GAA and AFL they have played in Perth in front of 38,262 fans, predominantly Irish. These same games do not sell out in the AFL heartland of Melbourne. In The Rugby Union the same is true when in 2006 where in a non Rugby state, 38,200 came to watch the Wallabies beat the Irish emphasising the vibrant Irish sporting community of the City.
A Celtic team could be put into the TOP tier of Australia’s competition. It would be guaranteed local derbies, non sectarian at that. It would have an immediate and hard core following, would be highly marketable in a city with access to the mega wealth of the mining companies whilst sitting on the shores of Asia. NIB stadium was recently upgraded meaning Celtic would have a boutique stadium already to move into. Should it win the A League it would qualify for the Asian Champions League which is the premier sporting competition of a continent of 3 Billion people. If Celtic wants to expand, this is where the money will be in the coming century, not in the United States.
When you think that Celtic cant move to Boston due to Boston Celtics having a licensing agreement there and that the NYC area already has a glut of teams, The NASL plan to expand to the United States seems flawed. Should Celtic look to the A League, then Perth seems the logical destination. Its established fan base, boutique stadium, sponsorship opportunities and market share in a rich city are all major positives.
The A league is looking to invigorate its brand ahead of next years TV rights deal and due to this is casting off the Phoenix looking for a more marketable option. No club can compare with Celtic on this level. Celtic is a global institution looking to expand to cash in, here both the Hoops and the A League can benefit. The A League has already allowed 1 foreign partnership which is working well with Melbourne City going from strugglers to contenders within 2 years. The old NSL already allowed one half of the “Old Firm” to invest.
Maybe now, it is Celtics turn.
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