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Should Celtic follow Barcelona to bridge the development gap

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Lewis Toshney Celtic newsLast week, I submitted an article and finished by posing the question, ‘How long can Celtic’s profile survive being in the SPL?’ In a 180 degree turnaround, this week, I’m asking ‘Should we be looking to enter a B team in the SFL?’

It is quite a swing but in the aftermath of Barcelona’s Champions League destruction of Manchester United the merits of a B team seem obvious. Valdes, Puyol, Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta, Messi, and Pedro all played for the youth teams then Barcelona B in either the Spanish 2nd or 3rd division before moving into the first team.

Guardiola, Pepe Reina, Ivan de la Pena, Luis Garcia, Jordi Cruyff, Giovani dos Santos, Thiago Motta, Bojan Krkic, and Jeffren Suarez, a player we are continually linked with, have also played for Barcelona B.

Without this set up, how many of these Champions League winners would have left Barcelona much earlier in their careers and failed to realise their potential? Of course, there is the argument that class will always prove itself but the point is, a B team allows for the extra time that is needed with some players.

Now I’m not suggesting that having a B team will turn us into champions of Europe and lead to a conveyor belt of world beaters at Lennoxtown. However, the loss of the reserve league has made it extremely difficult for young players at Celtic to breakthrough into the first team and has us scrambling all over the world looking for players.

This B team would be the bridge between the under 19’s and the first team and allow the development of players outside the cut-throat, must-win environment of Celtic Park.

Currently bridging that gap is extremely difficult. Aiden McGeady and James Forrest are the most obvious exceptions but take a look at Matty Hughes. He captained our under 19s to a double in May but now finds himself at Fleetwood Town in the Conference.

No doubt Fleetwood Town are just as big, if not bigger, than some SPL clubs but surely a B team would give the likes of Hughes a greater chance to succeed at Celtic and also give Celtic a greater chance of recouping some of the money, time and effort afforded these players.

These days we rely on the loan system but how many players have come back from a loan spell and flourished at Celtic Park? Does anyone really hold out much hope for Darren O’Dea, Paul McGowan, Morten Rasmussen, Ben Hutchison, Josh Thompson, Graham Carey, Richie Towell and the like.

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9 comments
  • celtforlife says:

    An excellent idea that should be given a lot of thought by those in charge of our game.

    Can I make a suggestion however and I know this is a Celtic site but… to gain backing I feel we would have to argue for the inclusion of other clubs ‘B’ teams.

    Rankers being the obvious team; I know they can hardly field a 1st team at the moment such is the money (or lack of it) down Edmiston Way; other teams may not be able to field a full team either but could a ‘Northern Lights’ (Aberdeen, Caley, Utd) or ‘Eastern Promise’ (Hibs and Hearts).

    I’m sure they’d be delighted at that.

    Not only would that proposal include ALL teams (they can say no to their inclusion but ok others) but it shows appreciation for Scottish football as a whole; this can only be good for the National Team also and stand a better chance for us of achieving our aim.

    Thoughts?

    • chiefinkorea says:

      It should be available for all teams but without a major shake up, it will probably only be a possibilty if a team goes belly up and, as you say, Celtic should be in the strongest position. I just hope Celtic will be proactive rather than wait and be caught napping.

  • Joe McHugh says:

    The most recent SPL Blueprint provided for 6 colt teams.

    However they wanted to bring the SFL into the SPL and since they can’t even get agreement amongst themselves on basic matters there is no prospect of the SFL throwing in their lot with them.

    Alone or with others Celtic should make an offer to join the SFL. Playing all matches away from home would give other clubs a minor financial boost with the only downside being the quality of the pitches however they are unlikely to be much worse than some SPL sandpits.

  • JackFury says:

    A feeder team in somewhere like Ireland would only be only option I can see working- while I think we should have a B team, I cannot see Scotland tolerating another Celtic team, sadly

  • Joe says:

    Can we enter a team into the English Conference and see if it can work its way up? That way, if it got high enough, we send the A team over to move up to the Premier League without missing out on a few years of SPL trophies and European football.

    Then, we just transfer our B team players into the SPL, compete on two fronts. Just a thought…

  • James says:

    We need a true football pyramid in Scotland. In other countries, anyone can found a team, join the bottom of the league system and work their way to the top deviation. This is the case in England and so even if the EFA didn’t let a celtic “B team” into the conference, celtic could register a team in the ‘Northern League’ (a Z team) and work our way up.

    Love this idea but I strongly disagree with the the statement that English conference teams are as big as SPL teams, despite the bad coverage and scathing comments of our league.

    • chiefinkorea says:

      @James, You could be onto something there.

      I wasn’t looking to imply all Conference teams are bigger and Fleetwood Town is a poor example, even though they made it to the play-offs this season. However the pyramid system you spoke of means fairly big clubs do go down.

      The difference in population may drive it but it’s not unreasonable to suggest that full-time teams in the Conference such as Luton, Darlington, Lincoln, Grimsby, York have better stadiums and infratructure than say ICT, Hamilton, St. Mirren even.

      It’s all about opinion and debate though. Cheers.

  • chiefinkorea says:

    Cheers for the feedback so far.

    Interestingly, it seems we all think the best opportunity to pursue this probably lies outside of Scotland.

  • MrMelvi says:

    The SPl & SFL are far too short sighted to let something like this happen. Your right, plenty of benefits to be had if both Rangers and Celtic had a B team in terms of developing competitive talent but sadly it just seems way too ‘radical’ a change for Scotland. God knows why. Your aberdeens and St Mirren’s would winge on about it being unfair and the SPL would listen to them.

    Good idea but just cant see it happening here.

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