Date: 8th March 2019 at 7:58am
Written by:

BT Sport pundit Chris Sutton wants Celtic to follow in the footsteps of Ajax after their extraordinary UEFA Champions League result this week.

The Dutch side shocked Europe with a 4-1 victory away to Real Madrid in the last 16 of the competition, securing progress into the quarter-finals.

Reportedly operating on a budget less than Celtic, with a lower turnover too, it shows that there is scope for mid-tier European sides to find success against the elite clubs on the continent.

Sutton feels it’s a sign that the Hoops should be getting more bang for their buck, urging the club to put in place a structure that will allow them to make serious progress in European competition.

Writing in his weekly Daily Record column, the former Celtic striker explained:

They [Ajax] have been wise with their money and will get a return on their investments, with the likes of Frenkie de Jong heading to Barcelona for £75m at the end of the campaign.

But this is the model Celtic should be aspiring to replicate in Scotland. There is no excuses for spending £59m on wages and not getting value for money and it goes back to the structure throughout the club.

It’s youth development, scouting and coaching. The scouting part has gone array in recent seasons and I doubt many Celtic fans will be shedding any tears when they read about Lee Congerton being tipped to follow Rodgers to Leicester City, or Anderlecht or wherever else.

He must have a good agent but for Celtic it will be good riddance.

They simply need to get the recruitment side of things back on track. There’s been a lot of talk about changing the structure behind the scenes, and I’ve seen chat about a possible director of football role.

I’m not against that model but it has to be done in the right way.

It might be overly simplistic to expect Celtic to be doing a similar job to Ajax in Europe simply because our budgets are in a similar range, but it does at least highlight there is a ceiling not yet reached for the Hoops.

Many have become far too used to us being on the receiving end of heavy defeats to big, cash-rich teams in Europe, but the Eredivisie outfit are at least showing you don’t simply need to accept your fate when it comes to European competition.

With clubs like RB Salzburg also reaching the latter rounds of the UEFA Europa League and thumping Celtic in the group stages this season, there is significant progress to be made and Sutton is right to call for the club to show ambition and be more effective spending the resources we do have.