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Box office Keane is worth the wages

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Jim Spence | 20:20 UK time, Sunday, 7 February 2010

Robbie Keane lifted Celtic from mundane to magnificent in the second half of their Scottish Cup tie at Dunfermline, proving that if you want quality, you have to pay for it.

Keane's appearance electrified East End Park and created a cacaphony among the Celtic support.

The Republic of Ireland striker's massive wages are part of top-flight football.

Robbie Keane celebrates his first goal for CelticHis intelligence and energy make him box office and he could transform Celtic's season once he settles into his rhythm. That'll do the Parkhead merchandising department no harm at all.

His penalty was perfect and his trademark celebration cartwheel a real touch of showmanship, which made you feel that Scottish football was part of something special again.

Players who can rise above the humdrum and energise a crowd as he did are worth their weight in gold.

In the past Henrik Larsson and Brian Laudrup set the game alight as did others of that ilk.

It's what football is all about, the chance to watch a real artiste in action, taking the game to a different level.

It's not just the Old Firm who have had the special talents; most Scottish clubs have had one at some time or other and they create a special buzz around the ground.

You'll all have had your own favourite at your own club.

Think Falkirk, think Russell Latapy; think Dundee, think Claudio Caniggia; or rolling back the years think Motherwell, think Davie Cooper; think Hibs, think George Best.

Some lasted longer than others but all had one thing in common, a magical ability that made you want to see them again and again and talk for hours into the night about them.

Keane will be in Scotland only for a short time. He may not be the very best you'll have seen but in the current climate he stands out like a polar bear in the Sahara.

Celtic fans should enjoy him while they can.


  • Comment number 1.

    A sad reflection on state of SPL and Scottish football in general when an over rated, 5th choice striker from a club in the Premier League "stands out like a polar bear in the Sahara."

    But thats just my opinion.

  • Comment number 2.

    Ought to be playing for Arsenal, they look like they could use a 5th choice striker from a club in the Premier league

    But thats just my opinion

  • Comment number 3.

    It's hard to disagree with Spitfire's observation. Scottish soccer might need an overhaul as it's near impossible marketing a league where only two teams, drawn from the same city, keep dominating soccer year after the next. While Primera Liga mirrors such a state of affairs, there is much more technical quality in Spain from even relatively small teams like Mallorca.

    This is a league that once produced the first British team to play in a European final, Rangers in 1961, and the first British winners of the European Cup, Celtic in 1967.

    In a remarkable seven year spell spanning 1978 to 1986, current MUFC coach Sir Alex Ferguson led the Reds of Aberdeen to three league championships, one Dryborough Cup, four Scottish Cups, the European Cup Winner's Cup, the European Super Cup and a League Cup! The same team would go on to supply players like Jim Leighton, Willie Miller, Alex McLeish and Gordon Strachan to the Scottish national team.

    Despite that, every league still needs box office draws like Keane and it can also herald the start of something special. The Scottish fans have been able to draw names like Cannigia, Gattuso, Brian Laudrup, Tor Andre Flo, Henrik Larsson and now Keane, which in itself might signal underlying potential. It can form a foundation to build on.

    Despite the Old Firm dominance (despite a total of 18 clubs having competed in the SPL since its inauguration in 1998–99, only two have won the title: Celtic with six and Rangers with five), per capita, more people in Scotland watch their domestic top level league than any other nation in Europe. The Scottish Premier League is currently ranked 15th in the UEFA rankings of European leagues, which are based on the performances of member clubs in European competitions.

    Another positive factor is SPL clubs allowed almost complete freedom to sign whatever number and category of players they wish. There is no team or individual salary cap, no squad size limit, no age restrictions (other than those applied by general employment law), no restrictions on the overall number of foreign players, and few restrictions on individual foreign players — all players with EU nationality, including those able to claim an EU passport through a parent or grandparent, are eligible to play, and top players from outside the EU are able to obtain UK work permits.

    Serious government investment can lead to reinvigoration of Scottish soccer, drawing more players like Keane to this part of the world. After all, US soccer too has made lots of strides, recently producing the Fulham contingent, Brad Friedel and Landon Donovan among others, despite being a relative upstart to the game.

  • Comment number 4.

    Whilst I agree that Keane is a big draw, will he score more goals than Scott MacDonald?

    Can you tell me how many goals Skippy has scored for Celtic in how many games? Consequently, how many does Keane have to score in the number of games he could possibly play in?

    Will people forget these figures in the media hype.

    I feel that the whole exercise will be an expensive failure, in that Celtic will not win the league - which is the only reason he is here. Or is it?

    Will Celtic get more merchandising out of it to make it a decent deal? Was the signing merely another exercise is media/fan satisfying. Remember the signing coup when Celtic extended Bobo Balde's contract and the media and fans went mental, rubbing Rangers faces in the Battle of the Transfer Window - not that it would have been difficult this time!

    Well, what happened to Bobo? He fell out of favour, fell out of ability, and fell into the money earning a fortune to doing naff all. Was that a good financial signing? Will Keane be the same? Remember he doesn't have a great injury free/fitness history.

    All this and more, will be discovered in the next thrilling episode of Who will win the SPL, who cares?

  • Comment number 5.

    All the talk has been about Celtic and Rangers should join the Premier Leauge. In all honesty, if that were to happen they would both struggle to finish above 10th. Its best for them to stay where they are and look good.

  • Comment number 6.

    ANOTHER old firm article.

    To quote "The Old Firm are interesting, but so was my breakfast this morning. There is a whole lot more on the Scottish football menu than the big two"


  • Comment number 7.

    Fantastic Eulogy for a bloke who has scored one in two and that was a peno.
    However I don't think it really fair to label Keane a 5th Choice striker. Someone in that position doesn't get a game, he is/was 3rd and has been clearly suffering a huge hangover from his Liverpool experience. Here's hoping his time with Celtic will rejuvenate them both.

  • Comment number 8.

    First off - Keane fell out of favour at White Hart Lane for his key role in Spurs undercover Christmas party in Dublin. Redknapp was furious over that and if I can recall correctly they lost to (Wolves?) that weekend. Redknapp had implicity instructed Keane (as club captain) that there would be no party of this nature but Keane went ahead with it. I wouldnt call him overrated or fifth choice - he has a good record in the premier league other than the graveyard for strikers hat is Anfield under Benitez (Bellamy, Crouch etc didnt flourish there either).

    This doesnt , however, disguise the class deficit in Scotland. Keane is vastly superior to Scott McDonald. The move is a good one for all concerned unless Celtic are paying a huge amount of his wages which leads me to the next point:

    Any insight on what the wage situation with Keane is? Ive heard rumours that Dermott Desmond himself is paying the bulk of the wages. I would have serious doubts that Celtic could, or would be willing to pay the full amount - especially when this season they are so far off the pace.

  • Comment number 9.

    Can anyone confirm that 'Celtic' are paying his full wage? Can't remember where I heard it, but that was a story when he was signed.

    Regarding the goals scenario - Skippy scored 51 goals in 88 appearances for Celtic. Keane will be able to play 18 league games in the rest of the season, 2 of which he has now played. He needs to score 11 goals in those games to beat Skippy. He now has 16 games to score 10 goals. If he does then the football gamble will have paid off. Whether that helps Celtic win the title, who knows. It's all subjective anyway.

    Just thought I would clarify my earlier post.

  • Comment number 10.

    9. At 4:43pm on 08 Feb 2010, Robin Johnston wrote:

    Yes but this fails to take into account of overall contribution aswell not to mention the respective teams they played in. Celtic are arguably a worse team now than a couple of seasons ago and also one that is being rebuilt. Theres perhaps no point over analysing the situation but in my view Robbie Keane was a good player in the Prem with a good goalscoring record. Im extremelly confident that Keane is the better of the two players - even should he fall short of the goals to game ratio outlined above. I wouldnt consider it much of a gamble to replace McDonald with Robbie Keane.

    I dont know what the story with the wages is but the article only touched on it - I would have hoped some sort of light would be shed on it seeing as it would be hard to imagine celtic agreeing to pay the full whack.

  • Comment number 11.

    Neil, No not another Old Firm article, a blog about Robbie Keane, a class act who happens to have signed for Celtic.
    Most people know where my loyalties lie and they're not with either half of the Old Firm.
    But it would be churlish and parochial not to recognise the arrival of a special talent in the SPL, whoever he plays for.
    You'll also no doubt have noted my general remarks about other fine talents who have graced the Scottish game "Think Falkirk, think Russell Latapy; think Dundee, think Claudio Caniggia; or rolling back the years think Motherwell, think Davie Cooper; think Hibs, think George Best."
    To quote: "The Old Firm are interesting, but so was my breakfast this morning. There is a whole lot more on the Scottish football menu than the big two."
    And much of what is on that menu I have written about, check for yourself. That doesn't mean that the Old Firm are off the menu. Like it or lump it they have an effect on the Scottish game, and you'd need your head buried in the sand not to recognise that.

  • Comment number 12.

    Well Jim

    Thanks for that insightful response on Robbie Keanes wage situation. Only 8 responses to your blog and you can only find time to respond to one which isnt even a question.

    The single line and rather unconnected "The Republic of Ireland striker's massive wages are part of top-flight football." doesnt really cover who is paying them - surely an important question when evaluating the loan move.

  • Comment number 13.

    JoeDavisRoach I don't know who is paying the wages and I'm not sure who is paying them is of any relevance. Celtic are not in any financial trouble and if Dermot Desmond wants to pay a chunk of the wages or all of them that is his business.
    I haven't heard any Celtic fans complaining about the situation, so why is it important and what is there to evaluate? Celtic have taken a business decision which they presumably thinks makes sense.
    Dermot Desmond will not be the first and certainly not the last investor at a football club to help fund a deal like this.

  • Comment number 14.

    13. At 9:19pm on 08 Feb 2010, Jim Spence - BBC Sport wrote:

    Thanks for the response Jim

    I think the wage situation is relevant as what Keane is reportadly is around two and half times Celtics highest paid player. If Celtic were paying the full amount (not to mention whatever they paid Spurs in order to secure the loan) this would represent a significant investment for a club that whilst not in any dire financial straits would be paying well above its means.

    I also think the wage issue is interesting insofar as evaluating the calibre of players the Old Firm can attract. Keane is a Celtic fan so obviously that will have played a part.

    Finally, if Celtic are indeed paying the full amount then this is a fairly expensive gamble to be taking given they were well off the pace in the League. I would rather see the money invested in a long term player in an area that needs strengthening such as defence (esp centre back - Thompson is atrocious) as opposed to just getting Keane in for 4 months. I suppose if Celtic somehow manage to overturn the 10 point deficit with Keanes help then the decision will have paid off but anything less and this is money wasted and given the state of Celtics squad I dont think they can afford to be wasting money.

    Naturally Celtic fans wont be complaining about such a high calibre signing (albeit loan) but if most could see what the actual financial cost to the club in real terms there may be food for thought. Personally Id be surprised if Celtic were footing the full bill.

    I just feel the above points are worth considering as whilst not many would argue that Keane is a top signing, it may be a very expensive one at a time when the squad may need long term strengthening as opposed short term measures.

  • Comment number 15.

    Actually, there are some pretty simple maths behind Celtic paying Keane's wages - Parkhead attendances are down to about 40,000 from a capacity of 60,000. If Keane gets 10,000 extra bums on seats every week (or even every fortnight) he'll pay for himself before the shirt sales and wages left from player sales come into it.

    Still, it's rather galling that Mowbray, who has looked about as useful as John Barnes, effectively gets more money to spend than Strachan.

  • Comment number 16.

    shoogledoogle - not saying your wrong, but I can't get the figures to add up. Care to show us you calculation?

  • Comment number 17.

    Will be interesting to see how he adapts to new environment after his bad spell at Liverpool. Kris Boyd and Kyle Lafferty I think are better strikers. John Fleck also is looking great for Rangers.

    We'll win the league again :)

  • Comment number 18.

    Kris Boyd and Kyle Lafferty I think are better strikers.



  • Comment number 19.

    sfmcftb - try adding this up.

    £65,000 per week equals 2,600 bums @ £25 a head, or a bum in this case. Every second game therefore needs 5,200 extra bums to break even. shoogleddgle point proven.

    Other than making sure that the stewards ask every punter coming through the turnstyles is there purely because of Keano AND they have not been for a few weeks/months, and then keep a note of the numbers at each gate.

    I'm sure they will be willing to do that to prove a point.

    Aye, right!

  • Comment number 20.

    Jim I kind of agree with you and don't agree with you on this one. He may well lift the spirits of Celtic fans but that will be about it. yes all clubs have had their greats, as a Dee I would go for the Duffy's of the world rather than CC but most have had them.

    The difference for myself now is that Scottish football should not be spending the kind of money Celtic are on RK. Surely we have to encourage young players to come through and give them a chance. If you gave me a choice I would much rather pay to watch a Goodwillie at Utd (spit) or a Griffiths at Dens than a Robbie keane. What does this say to young players also, they are the savour of the game here not an above average EPL player who can come, have a bit of fun then return to his day job. I have no doubt he will his 95% each week to celtic but in the longer term this type of signing does more harm than good me thinks.

  • Comment number 21.

    " Kris Boyd and Kyle Lafferty I think are better strikers"


    Boyd is a good SPL level goalscorer. Lafferty????????? I'm beginning to think the player at Rangers is an imposter - He's simply awful and as for his character.............

  • Comment number 22.

    Bruce, It doesn't have to be mutually exclusive. A club can produce and give oportunities to good young players if they're brave enough to do so, and also bring in a showman like Keane if they cann aford him. Presumably Celtic can afford him given that they have been well run financially.

    But I agree with your point, every fan loves the player who gives his all for the club and has an affinity for the fans. In saying that, Keane claims a boyhood affinity for Celtic, so who are we to doubt him, and if he can inspire up and coming young players that is a bonus.

  • Comment number 23.

    Interesting and accurate Jim. celtic will never have the cash to sign him. if he does well then spurs will get an extra 1 - 2million from someone in the summer for him. or if Crouch & defoe luck out then Harry will have him back faster than you can say Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs.

    if i were a rival SPL manager preparing my team for a game against a Celtic i would be tempted to pull some of the teams old boys to one side and say 'see that lad Keane over there? apparently he is worth 20 times what you are each week'. then let the games begin!

  • Comment number 24.

    Spurs beaten by Wolves, Harry says 'worst' of season. Think they're missing Robbie already?

  • Comment number 25.


    Everyone has their own opinion when it comes to individual players however, to call Thompson 'atrocious' is an opinion that can have no justification whatsoever. Apart from one lapse against Dunfermline he has acquitted himself well since being involved in the first team and is a very promising young defender who doesn't seem to be prone to the moments of madness McManus and Caldwell became famous for.

    As far as I see it, Celtic have made several 'long term' signings to strengthen the team and I dont see Keane's signing being a gamble at all. As others have pointed out, his reported wage will more than likely be offset against the increased revenue generated by his signing (tickets, merchandise). The signing has raised the profile of the club in dark times for the SPL and this can only be a positive thing!


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