Davie Hay: Premier League pulling power may not lead to ideal match for Celtic stars

WHY does England have such a pull on successful managers like Neil Lennon and rising stars like Fraser Forster and Virgil van Dijk?

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Virgil van Dijk and Fraser Forster are two of Celtic's hottest talents
Virgil van Dijk and Fraser Forster are two of Celtic's hottest talents

If anyone was still in any doubt, 62 million extra reasons were supplied this week.

Every one was a pound, and went into the coffers of Cardiff - who finished bottom on the Premier League this season.

That's more money than Manchester United earned for winning the title 12 months ago.

This season's winners, Manchester City, scooped over £96m, while runners-up, Liverpool, got a million above that incredible figure because they were on TV more often.

England always was the land of milk and honey. Now it appears to be overflowing with the stuff, thanks to the new TV contract which has kicked in.

The result is that everyone - players and managers - are attracted there because the big money attracts the best, and the best make the Premier League the best.

The downside is that more than half the bosses who have been employed in the Premier League this season have been sacked, and a huge number operating in the competitive Championship, trying to make the step up to the top division, have also lost their jobs.

The gulf between England and Scotland is getting wider, and it will make trying to attract new players to Celtic even more difficult because it will be harder than ever to compete with what clubs down south can offer in terms of transfer fees and wages.

Neil is a real student of the game, who networks well, and will have been aware of how things were moving for quite some time.

Celtic have done all they can to maximise income streams. But the rewards for being successful in the SPFL are limited - the league doesn't even have a sponsor - and the income which can be generated from qualifying for the Champions League is becoming an increasingly-important percentage of Celtic's potential turnover.

That puts huge pressure on everyone at the club to first, win the league and grab the one qualifying place, and secondly, get through the two qualifying rounds and the play-off.

Sure, once you are in the group stage, it is a fantastic experience for the manager and players.

But the strain put on them to get there - as was seen when they had to come back from 2-0 down against Karagandy - is immense.

It's all got to be considered when you ask, why would Neil even think about moving from Parkhead to a club who don't compete for Champions League places in England?

Now, I'm not saying he is going to make that leap, even though the speculation is growing once again that, after four seasons in charge of Celtic, he is ready to try something different.

I actually believe he will be here for at least another year because I think he has unfinished business.

He will not be content with how last season's European campaign went, and will want to do better.

Neil will also want to join the exclusive club of Celtic managers who have won a treble.

To have any chance of achieving this, he will have to hold on to the likes of Fraser and Virgil, and add a bit more quality to a few other positions.

Fraser's achievement in winning a place in England's World Cup squad will put him right in the spotlight.

But, it should be a win-win situation for Celtic because his value will rise, and he will also realise he can achieve his ambitions while wearing the Hoops. Virgil will be disappointed he did not make it into the Dutch squad, but is now reported to be interesting Dynamo Moscow.

He is still only 22, and, after just one season at Celtic, there is no need to try and cash in on him.

Like the manager, a decision will only have to be made if a concrete offer comes in.

Until then, it's as you were.


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