Celtic F.C.

For other uses, see Celtic#Sports.

Full name The Celtic Football Club
Nickname(s) The Bhoys, The Hoops, The Celts
Founded 6 November 1887 (1887-11-06)
Ground Celtic Park
Ground Capacity 60,411
Chairman Ian Bankier
Manager Brendan Rodgers
League Scottish Premiership
2015–16 Scottish Premiership, 1st (champions)
Website Club home page

The Celtic Football Club (/ˈsɛltɪk/) is a professional football club based in Glasgow, Scotland, which plays in the Scottish Premiership. The club was founded in 1887[nb 1] with the purpose of alleviating poverty in the immigrant Irish population in the East End of Glasgow. They played their first match in May 1888, a friendly match against Rangers which Celtic won 5–2. Celtic established itself within Scottish football, winning six successive league titles during the first decade of the 20th century. The club enjoyed their greatest successes during the 1960s and 70s under Jock Stein when they won nine consecutive league titles and the European Cup.

Celtic have won the Scottish League Championship on 47 occasions, most recently in the 2015–16 season, the Scottish Cup 36 times and the Scottish League Cup 16 times. The club's greatest season was 1966–67, when Celtic became the first British team to win the European Cup, also winning the Scottish League Championship, the Scottish Cup, the Scottish League Cup, and the Glasgow Cup. Celtic also reached the 1970 European Cup Final, and the 2003 UEFA Cup Final.

Celtic have a long-standing fierce rivalry with Rangers, and the clubs have become known as the Old Firm. The two clubs have dominated Scottish football, winning 101 league titles between them since the inception of the Scottish League in 1890.

The club's fanbase was estimated in 2003 as being around nine million worldwide, and there are in excess of 160 Celtic supporters clubs in over 20 countries. An estimated 80,000 fans travelled to Seville for the 2003 UEFA Cup Final.


Brother Walfrid, founder of Celtic FC

Celtic Football Club was formally constituted at a meeting in St. Mary's church hall in East Rose Street (now Forbes Street), Calton, Glasgow, by Irish Marist Brother Walfrid[1] on 6 November 1887, with the purpose of alleviating poverty in the East End of Glasgow by raising money for the charity Walfrid had instituted, the Poor Children's Dinner Table.[2] Walfrid's move to establish the club as a means of fund-raising was largely inspired by the example of Hibernian, which was formed out of the immigrant Irish population a few years earlier in Edinburgh.[3] Walfrid's own suggestion of the name Celtic (pronounced Seltik) was intended to reflect the club's Irish and Scottish roots and was adopted at the same meeting.[4][5] The club has the official nickname, The Bhoys. However, according to the Celtic press office, the newly established club was known to many as "the bold boys". A postcard from the early 20th century that pictured the team and read "The Bould Bhoys" is the first known example of the unique spelling. The extra h imitates the spelling system of Gaelic, wherein the letter b is often accompanied by the letter h.[6]

A team photo from the early days of the club, before the adoption of the now-famous hooped jerseys.

On 28 May 1888, Celtic played their first official match against Rangers and won 5–2 in what was described as a "friendly encounter".[7] Neil McCallum scored Celtic's first ever goal.[8] Celtic's first kit consisted of a white shirt with a green collar, black shorts, and emerald green socks.[9] The original club crest was a simple green cross on a red oval background.[9] In 1889 Celtic reached the final of the Scottish Cup, this was their first season in the competition, but lost 2–1 in the final.[10] Celtic again reached the final of the Scottish Cup in 1892, but this time were victorious after defeating Queen's Park 5–1 in the final, the club's first major honour.[11] Several months later the club moved to its new ground, Celtic Park, and in the following season won the Scottish League Championship for the first ever time.[7] In 1895, Celtic set the League record for the highest home score when they beat Dundee 11–0.[12]

In 1897, the club became a Private limited company[13] and Willie Maley was appointed as the first 'secretary-manager'.[14] Between 1905 and 1910, Celtic won the Scottish League Championship six times in a row.[7][15] In both 1907 and 1908 Celtic also won the Scottish Cup, this was the first time a Scottish club had ever won the Double.[7][16] During World War I, Celtic won the league four times in a row, including 62 matches unbeaten between November 1915 and April 1917.[7][17] The mid-1920s saw the emergence of Jimmy McGrory as one of the most prolific goalscorers in British football history. Over a sixteen-year playing career, he scored 550 goals in 547 games (including 16 goals for Clydebank during a season on loan in 1923–24), a British goal-scoring record to this day.[18][19] In January 1940, Willie Maley's retirement was announced. He was 71 years old and had served the club in varying roles for nearly 52 years, initially as a player and then as secretary-manager.[20][21] Jimmy McStay became manager of the club in February 1940.[22] He spent over five years in this role, although due to the Second World War no official competitive league football took place during this time. The Scottish Football League and Scottish Cup were suspended and in their place regional league competitions were set up.[23] Celtic did not do particularly well during the war years, but did win the Victory in Europe Cup held in May 1945 as a one-off football tournament to celebrate Victory in Europe Day.[24]

Ex-player and captain Jimmy McGrory took over as manager in 1945.[25] Under McGrory, Celtic defeated Arsenal, Manchester United and Hibernian to win the Coronation Cup, a one-off tournament held in May 1953 to commemorate the coronation of Elizabeth II.[26] He also led them to a League and Cup double in 1954.[27] On 19 October 1957, Celtic defeated Rangers a record 7–1 in the final of the Scottish League Cup at Hampden Park in Glasgow, retaining the trophy they had won for only the first time the previous year. The scoreline remains a record win in a British domestic cup final.[28][29] The years that followed, however, saw Celtic struggle and the club won no more trophies under McGrory.[30]

Jock Stein in an Amsterdam hotel, ahead of a European Cup tie against Ajax (1971)

Former Celtic captain Jock Stein succeeded McGrory in 1965.[31] Stein guided Celtic to nine straight Scottish League wins from 1966 to 1974, equalling the then world record,[32] and a feat which was not matched again in Scotland until 1997 by Rangers. He won the Scottish Cup with Celtic in his first few months at the club,[33] and then led them to the League title the following season.[34]

1967 was Celtic's annus mirabilis. The club won every competition they entered: the Scottish League, the Scottish Cup, the Scottish League Cup, the Glasgow Cup, and the European Cup.[35][36] Under the leadership of Stein, the club defeated Inter Milan 2–1 at the Estádio Nacional in Lisbon, on 25 May 1967. Celtic thus became the first British team,[37][38] and the first from outside Spain, Portugal and Italy to win the competition. They remain the only Scottish team to have reached the final. The players that day subsequently became known as the "Lisbon Lions". The following season Celtic lost to Racing Club of Argentina in the Intercontinental Cup.[39]

Celtic reached the European Cup Final again in 1970, but were beaten 2–1 by Feyenoord at the San Siro in Milan.[40] The club continued to dominate Scottish football in the early 1970s, and their Scottish Championship win in 1974 was their ninth consecutive league title, equalling the joint world record held at the time by MTK Budapest and CSKA Sofia.[41] Celtic enjoyed further domestic success in the 1980s, and in their Centenary season of 1987–88 won a Scottish League Championship and Scottish Cup double.[42]

The club endured a slump in the early 1990s, culminating in the Bank of Scotland informing Celtic on 3 March 1994 that it was calling in the receivers as a result of the club exceeding a £5 million overdraft.[43] However, expatriate businessman Fergus McCann wrested control of the club, and ousted the family dynasties which had controlled Celtic since its foundation. According to media reports, McCann took over the club minutes before it was to be declared bankrupt.[44] McCann reconstituted the club business as a public limited company – Celtic PLC – and oversaw the redevelopment of Celtic Park into a 60,832 all-seater stadium. In 1998, under Dutchman Wim Jansen Celtic won the title again and prevented Rangers from beating Celtic's 9-in-a-row record.[45]

Martin O'Neill, a former European Cup winner with Nottingham Forest, took charge of the club in June 2000.[46] Under his leadership, Celtic won three SPL championships out of five[47] and in his first season in charge, the club also won the domestic treble,[48] making O'Neill only the second Celtic manager to do so after Jock Stein.[49] In 2003, around 80,000 Celtic fans travelled to watch the club compete in the UEFA Cup Final in Seville.[50][51] Celtic lost 3–2 to FC Porto after extra time, despite two goals from Henrik Larsson during normal time.[52] The conduct of the thousands of travelling Celtic supporters received widespread praise from the people of Seville and the fans were awarded Fair Play Awards from both FIFA and UEFA "for their extraordinarily loyal and sporting behaviour".[53][54]

Gordon Strachan was announced as O'Neill's replacement in June 2005 and after winning the SPL title in his first year in charge,[55] he became only the third Celtic manager to win three titles in a row. He also guided Celtic to their first UEFA Champions League knockout stage in 2006–07[56] and repeated the feat in 2007–08[57] before departing the club in May 2009, after failing to win the SPL title.[58] Tony Mowbray took charge of the club in June 2009,[59] and he was succeeded a year later by Neil Lennon.[60] In November 2010, Celtic set a Scottish Premier League record for the biggest win in SPL history defeating Aberdeen 9–0 at Celtic Park.[61]

Celtic celebrated their 125th anniversary in November 2012, the same week as their UEFA Champions League match against Barcelona.[62] Celtic won 2–1 on the night to complete a memorable week,[63] and eventually qualified from the group stages for the last 16 round.[64] Celtic finished the season with League and Scottish Cup double.[65] Celtic clinched their third consecutive league title in March 2014,[66] with goalkeeper Fraser Forster setting a new record during the campaign of 1256 minutes without conceding a goal in a league match.[67] At the end of the season, manager Neil Lennon announced his departure from the club after four years in the role.[68]

Norwegian Ronny Deila was appointed manager of Celtic on 6 June 2014.[69][70] He went on to lead Celtic to two consecutive league titles and a League Cup, but the team's performances in European competition were poor. After being knocked out of the Scottish Cup by Rangers in April 2016, Deila announced he would leave the club at the end of the season.[71][72] On 20 May 2016, Brendan Rodgers was announced as Deila's successor as manager of Celtic.[72][73] His first season saw the team go on a long unbeaten run in domestic competitions, during which time the club won their 100th major trophy, defeating Aberdeen 3–0 in the League Cup Final on 27 November 2016.[74]

Crest and colours

For most of Celtic's history their home strip has featured green and white horizontal hoops, but their original strip consisted of a white top with black shorts and black and green hooped socks. The top also featured the Marist Brothers' badge on the right hand side, consisting of a green Celtic cross inside a red circle.[9][75] In 1889, the club changed to a green and white vertically striped top and for the next fourteen years this remained unchanged although the colour of the shorts alternated between white and black several times over this period. The top did not feature a crest.[9][76]

History of Celtic football strips
1965 onwards

In 1903, Celtic adopted their now famous green and white hooped tops. The new design was worn for the first time on 15 August 1903 in a match against Partick Thistle.[9] Black socks continued to be worn until the early 1930s, at which point the team switched to green socks. Plain white socks came into use in the mid 1960s, and white has been the predominant colour worn since then.[9] The club began using a badge in the 1930s, featuring a four leaf clover logo surrounded by the club's formal title, "The Celtic Football and Athletic Coy. Ltd".[77] However, it wasn't until 1977 that Celtic finally adopted the club crest on their shirts. The outer segment was reversed out, with white lettering on a green background on the team shirts. The text around the clover logo on the shirts was also shortened from the official club crest to "The Celtic Football Club".[77] For their centenary year in 1988, a commemorative crest was worn, featuring the Celtic cross that appeared on their first shirts. The 1977 version was reinstated for season 1989–90.[9]

The club crest adopted on the team's football shirts in 1977, based on a badge originating from the 1930s.
The special crest that was adopted in seasons 1987–88 & 1988–89 to celebrate the club's centenary.

From 1945 onwards numbered shirts slowly came into use throughout Scotland, before becoming compulsory in 1960. By this time Celtic were the last club in Britain to adopt the use of numbers on the team strip to identify players. The traditionalist and idealistic Celtic chairman, Robert Kelly, baulked at the prospect of the famous green and white hoops being disfigured, and as such Celtic wore their numbers on the players shorts.[9] This unusual tradition survived until 1994, although numbered shirts were worn in European competition from 1975 onwards.[9] Celtic's tradition of wearing numbers on their shorts rather than on the back of their shirts was brought to an end when the Scottish Football League instructed Celtic to wear numbers on their shirts from the start of the 1994–95 season. Celtic responded by adding numbers to the top of their sleeves, however within a few weeks the football authorities ordered the club to attach them to the back of their shirts, where they appeared on a large white patch, breaking up the green and white hoops.[9]

In 1984 Celtic took up shirt sponsorship for the first time, with Fife-based double glazing firm CR Smith having their logo emblazoned on the front of the team jersey.[78][79] In season 1991–92, Celtic switched to Glasgow-based car sales company Peoples as sponsors.[80] The club failed to secure a shirt sponsor for season 1992–93, and for the first time since the early 1980s Celtic took to the field in 'unblemished' hoops.[81][82] Perversely, despite the loss of marketing revenue, sales of the new unsponsored replica top increased dramatically.[82] Celtic regained shirt sponsorship for season 1993–94, with CR Smith returning as shirt sponsors in a four-year deal.[78][83]

In 2005 the club severed their connection with Umbro, suppliers of their kits since the 1960s and entered into a contract with Nike. To mark the 40th anniversary of their European Cup win, a special crest was introduced for the 2007–08 season. The star that represents this triumph was retained when the usual crest was reinstated the following season.[9] In 2012, a retro style kit was designed by Nike that included narrower hoops to mark the club's 125th anniversary. A special crest was introduced with a Celtic knot design embroidered round the traditional badge. A third-choice strip based on the first ever strip from 1888 was also adopted for the season.[9]

In March 2015, Celtic agreed a new kit deal with Boston-based sportswear manufacturer New Balance to replace Nike from the start of the 2015–16 season. It is believed to be the biggest kit contract in the club's history, outdoing the decade-long deal with Nike who paid Celtic £5 million a year to make their shirts.[84][85]


Main article: Celtic Park
Statue of Jock Stein outside Celtic Park

Celtic's stadium is Celtic Park, which is in the Parkhead area of Glasgow. Celtic Park, an all-seater stadium with a capacity of 60,411,[86] is the largest football stadium in Scotland and the seventh-largest stadium in the United Kingdom, after Murrayfield, Old Trafford, Twickenham, Wembley, the London 2012 Olympic Stadium and the Millennium Stadium. It is commonly known as Parkhead[87] or Paradise.[88][89]

Celtic opened the original Celtic Park in the Parkhead area in 1888.[90] The club moved to a different site in 1892, however, when the rental charge was greatly increased.[91] The new site was developed into an oval shaped stadium, with vast terracing sections.[92] The record attendance of 83,500 was set by an Old Firm derby on 1 January 1938.[91] The terraces were covered and floodlights were installed between 1957 and 1971.[91] The Taylor Report mandated that all major clubs should have an all-seated stadium by August 1994.[93] Celtic was in a bad financial position in the early 1990s and no major work was carried out until Fergus McCann took control of the club in March 1994. He carried out a plan to demolish the old terraces and develop a new stadium in a phased rebuild, which was completed in August 1998. During this development, Celtic spent the 1994–95 season playing at the national stadium Hampden Park, costing the club £500,000 in rent.[94] The total cost of the new stadium on its completion was £40 million.[95]

Celtic Park has often been used as a venue for Scotland internationals and Cup Finals, particularly when Hampden Park has been unavailable.[96] Before the First World War, Celtic Park hosted various other sporting events, including composite rules shinty-hurling,[97] track and field and the 1897 Track Cycling World Championships.[91] Open-air masses,[91] and First World War recruitment drives have also been held there.[98] Celtic Park has occasionally been used for concerts, including performances by The Who and U2.[99]

A panoramic view of Celtic Park


In 2003 Celtic were estimated to have a fan base of nine million people, including one million in the USA and Canada.[100] There are over 160 Celtic Supporters Clubs in over 20 countries around the world.[101]

In 2003, an estimated 80,000 Celtic supporters, many without match tickets, travelled to Seville in Spain for the UEFA Cup Final,[53][54][102] The club's fans subsequently received awards from UEFA and FIFA for their behaviour at the match.[50][51][53][54]

In the 2010–11 season, Celtic had the highest average home attendance of any Scottish club.[103] They also had the 12th highest average league attendance out of all the football clubs in Europe.[104]

In October 2013, French football magazine So Foot published a list of whom they considered the 'best' football supporters in the world. Celtic fans were placed third, the only British supporters on the list, with the magazine highlighting their rendition of You'll Never Walk Alone before the start of European ties at Celtic Park.[105]

The Old Firm and sectarianism

Celtic's traditional rivals are Rangers; collectively, the two clubs are known as the Old Firm.[106] The two have dominated Scottish football's history;[106] between them, they have won the Scottish league championship 101 times since its inception in 1890 – all other clubs combined have won 19 championships.[107] The two clubs are also by far the most supported in Scotland, with Celtic having the sixth highest home attendance in the UK during season 2014–15.[108][109] Celtic have a historic association with the people of Ireland and Scots of Irish descent, who are both mainly Roman Catholic.[110] Traditionally fans of rivals Rangers came from Scottish or Northern Irish Protestant backgrounds and support British Unionism.[110]

The clubs have attracted the support of opposing factions in the Troubles in Northern Ireland. Some supporters use songs, chants and banners at matches to abuse or show support for the Protestant or Catholic faiths and proclaim support for Northern Irish paramilitary groups such as the IRA and UVF.[111]

There have been 401 Old Firm matches (League, Scottish Cup and Scottish League Cup) played as of April 2016.[112] The games have been described as having an "atmosphere of hatred, religious tension and intimidation which continues to lead to violence in communities across Scotland."[111] The rivalry has fuelled many assaults and even deaths on Old Firm Derby days. Admissions to hospital emergency rooms have been reported to increase ninefold over normal levels[113] and in the period from 1996 to 2003, eight deaths in Glasgow were directly linked to Old Firm matches, and hundreds of assaults.[113][114]

Both sets of fans fought an on-pitch battle in the aftermath of Celtic's victory in the 1980 Scottish Cup final at Hampden Park.[115] There was serious fan disorder during an Old Firm match played in May 1999 at Celtic Park; missiles were thrown by Celtic fans, including one which struck referee Hugh Dallas, who needed medical treatment, and a small number of fans invaded the pitch.[116]

Celtic have taken measures to reduce sectarianism. In 1996, the club launched its Bhoys Against Bigotry campaign, later followed by Youth Against Bigotry to "educate the young on having ... respect for all aspects of the community – all races, all colours, all creeds".[117]

In March 2008, UEFA investigated Celtic fans for alleged sectarian singing at a match against Barcelona.[118] The case was dropped before the end of the month due to a lack of evidence.[119]

Irish republicanism

Some groups of Celtic fans express their support for Irish republicanism and the Irish Republican Army by singing or chanting about them at matches.[120][121] IRA chanting has been described as being offensive, but opinion is divided on whether they are sectarian.[122][123][124][125][126] UEFA head of communications William Gaillard, when talking about the matter in 2006, said that IRA chanting was a nationalist issue and was similar to fans of other clubs, such as Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao, who support nationalist movements in their own countries. He also stated that only in Balkan countries, where some fans show support for organisations that had engaged in ethnic cleansing, was the situation different because these organisations were by their nature discriminatory. He said that this did not apply to the IRA.[127]

In 2008 and 2010, there were protests by groups of fans over the team wearing the poppy symbol for Remembrance Day.[128][129] Celtic expressed disapproval of these protests, saying they were damaging to the image of the club and its fans, and pledged to ban those involved.[120][129][130]

In November 2011 UEFA launched an investigation into Celtic about alleged "illicit chanting" involving pro-IRA songs during their Europa League tie against Rennes on 3 November 2011.[131] The hearing took place on 9 December 2011,[132] and the club was fined £12,700 for the offence.[133] Also in November 2011, the Scottish Premier League announced an investigation into Celtic over "pro-IRA" chanting by fans during a match against Hibernian the previous month.[134] The investigation concluded on 5 December 2011, with the SPL stating that "It is not disputed that a small number of Celtic fans engaged in singing and chanting in support of the IRA". However, Celtic were deemed to have taken all "reasonably practicable steps" to try and prevent the behaviour so no action was taken against them. The SPL also stated that repeated condemnation of the chants by manager Neil Lennon as well as chief executive Peter Lawwell had been taken into consideration.[135]

Celtic media

The Celtic View, the oldest football club magazine in the world

In 1965, Celtic began publishing The Celtic View, the oldest club magazine in football.[136] It was the brainchild of future Chairman Jack McGinn who at the time was working in the circulation department of Beaverbrook Newspapers.[137] McGinn himself edited the paper for the first few years, with circulation initially reaching around 26,000 copies.[138] Today it is a 72-page glossy magazine with over 6,000 weekly readers, and the top selling club magazine in the United Kingdom.

In 2004, Celtic launched their own digital TV channel called Celtic TV, which was available in the UK through Setanta Sports on satellite and cable platforms. Due to the collapse of Setanta in the UK in June 2009, Celtic TV stopped broadcasting, although the club hoped to find a new broadcast partner.[139]

Since 2002, Celtic's Internet TV channel Channel67 (previously known as Celtic Replay) broadcast Celtic's own content worldwide and offered live match coverage to subscribers outside the UK. It also provided three online channels.

In 2011, Celtic TV was relaunched as an online service and replaced Channel 67.[140][141]

Influence on other clubs

Due to Celtic's large following, several clubs outside Scotland have decided to emulate or have been inspired by Celtic. As the club has a large following, especially in Northern Ireland, several clubs have been founded by local Celtic fans.

One such club was Belfast Celtic, formed in 1891 simply as Celtic. Upon incorporation as a limited company in 1901, however, the club adopted the name "Belfast Celtic", the title "Celtic Football Club Ltd" already being registered by the Glasgow club.[142] Their home from the same year was Celtic Park on Donegall Road in west Belfast, known to the fans as Paradise.[143] It was one of the most successful teams in Ireland until it withdrew from the Irish League in 1949.

Donegal Celtic, currently playing in the NIFL Championship 1, was established in 1970, with the Celtic part being taken on due to the massive local following for Scotland's Celtic and formerly Belfast Celtic. They play at Donegal Celtic Park.

A club by the name of Lurgan Celtic was originally formed in 1903, with the obvious slant of aiming towards the Roman Catholic community of the town, adopting the name and colours of the Glaswegian Celtic.[144] The County Armagh club currently plays in NIFL Championship 1.

South African club Bloemfontein Celtic F.C., one of the most popular club in the country with a large fan base in the Free State, is also named after Celtic F.C. Founded in 1969 as Mangaung United, in 1984, the then owner Molemela took over the club and changed the name to Bloemfontein Celtic. Based in Bloemfontein, they play in the Premier Soccer League.[145]

Other clubs to have been named after and adopted Celtic's kit are: the now defunct Scottish club Blantyre Celtic F.C.; Irish club Listowel Celtic F.C.; and English lower-league clubs Cleator Moor Celtic F.C., which was founded in 1908–09 by Irish immigrants employed in the local iron ore mines, Celtic Nation F.C. and West Allotment Celtic F.C.. Tuam Celtic A.F.C. and Castlebar Celtic F.C., both play at grounds called Celtic Park; in Tuam, and in its Castlebar counterpart, both in the Republic of Ireland.

Celtic and charity

Celtic was initially founded to raise money for the poor in the East End of Glasgow and the club still retain strong charitable traditions today.[146]

On 9 August 2011 Celtic held a testimonial match in honour of former player John Kennedy. Due to the humanitarian crisis in East Africa, the entire proceeds were donated to Oxfam. An estimated £300,000 was raised.[147]

In 1995 the Celtic Charity Fund was formed with the aim of "revitalising Celtic's charitable traditions" and by September 2013 had raised over £5 million.[148][149] The Charity Fund has since then merged with the Celtic Foundation, forming the Celtic FC Foundation, and continues to raise money for local, national and international causes.[150][151]

Celtic hold an annual charity fashion show at Celtic Park. In 2011 the main beneficiaries were Breast Cancer Care Scotland.[149]

Yorkhill Hospital is another charity with whom Celtic are affiliated and in December 2011 the club donated £3000 to it. Chief Executive Peter Lawwell said that; "Celtic has always been much more than a football club and it is important that, at all times we play an important role in the wider community. The club is delighted to have enjoyed such a long and positive connection with Yorkhill Hospital."[152]

Ownership and finances

Private company

Celtic were formed in 1887, and in 1897 the club became a Private Limited Company with a nominal share capital of 5000 shares at £1 each.[7][153] The following year a further share issue of 5000 £1 shares was created to raise more capital for the club. The largest number of shares held at this time were by businessmen from the East End of Glasgow, notably James Grant, an Irish publican and engineer, James Kelly, one of the club's original players now turned publican, and John Glass, a builder and major driving force in the early years of the club.[153] His shares, upon his death in 1906, then passed on to Thomas White.[154] The Grant, Kelly and White shareholdings created the family "dynasties" that would dominate ownership of the club throughout the 20th century.[155][156]

James Kelly was one of Celtic's early directors and also for a brief time, Chairman. His son Robert Kelly spent many years as Chairman, and further descendants Kevin Kelly and Michael Kelly went on to have prominent, if controversial, roles on the Celtic board.

The late 1940s saw Robert Kelly, son of James Kelly, become chairman of the club after having been a director on the board since 1931. Desmond White also joined the board around this time, upon the death of his father Thomas White.[157] By the 1950s, a significant number of shares in the club had passed to Neil and Felicia Grant, who lived in Toomebridge, County Antrim. These shares accounted for over one-sixth of the club's total issue.[158] Club chairman Robert Kelly's own family share-holding was of a similar size, and he used his close personal relationship with the Toomebridge Grants to ensure his power base at Celtic was unchallengeable.[158] When Neil Grant died in the early 1960s, his shareholding passed to his sister Felicia, leaving her as the largest share-holder in Celtic.[158][159] This gave rise to the myth amongst Celtic supporters of the "old lady in Ireland" who supposedly had the ultimate say in the running of the club.[158]

Celtic's board of directors had a reputation of being very niggardly and authoritarian, as well as not showing loyalty to their players or managers. In particular they were known for continually selling their top players and not paying their staff enough, they also lacked ambition and many managers had run-ins with them due to this.[160] Jimmy McGrory's tenure as manager is largely considered a period of underachievement, but with Chairman Robert Kelly's domineering influence in the running of the club, many questioned how much say McGrory ever had in team selection.[161][162] Jock Stein's time as manager ended on a sour note when he was offered a place on the Celtic board, but in a role involving the revival of ticket sales. Stein felt that this was demeaning, stating he was "a football man, not a ticket salesman". He declined this offer and decided to stay in football management, joining Leeds United.[163][164][165] Billy McNeill won a trophy in each of his five seasons as manager, but was still paid less than the managers of Rangers, Aberdeen and Dundee United. He left the club in June 1983 after his request for a contract and pay rise was publicly rebuffed by the board. McNeill moved on to manage Manchester City, stating that to remain at Celtic would have been humiliating.[164] McNeill's successor, Davie Hay, had his difficulties with the Celtic board too. When trying to sign players in 1987 to strengthen his squad to cope with high spending Rangers, the board refused to pay for them; Chairman Jack McGinn was publicly quoted as saying that if Hay wanted these players, "he will have to pay for them himself".[166]

By the end of the 1980s the Celtic board consisted of Chairman Jack McGinn and directors Kevin Kelly, Chris White, Tom Grant and Jimmy Farrell. Neither McGinn nor Farrell were members of the traditional family dynasties at Celtic: Farrell was a partner in the Shaughnessy law firm that had long standing connections with Celtic, and was invited to become a director at the club in 1964; McGinn was responsible for the setting up of the club newspaper The Celtic View in the 1960s and later became the club's commercial manager. He was given a seat on the board and became Chairman in 1986.[167] In May 1990 former Lord Provost of Glasgow, Michael Kelly, and property developer Brian Dempsey were invited to join the Celtic board.[168][169] Dempsey did not last long however, a dispute about a proposed relocation from Parkhead to Robroyston resulted in him being voted off the board five months later.[170]

McCann takeover and transition to plc

Throughout the 1960s and 70s Celtic had been one of the strongest clubs in Europe. However, the directors failed to accompany the wave of economic development facing football in the 1980s, although the club continued to remain successful on the field, albeit limited to the domestic scene in Scotland.[171] In 1989, the club's annual budget was £6.4 million, about a third as much as Barcelona, with a debt of around 40% and on-field success deteriorating.[172] In the early 1990s the situation began to worsen as playing success declined dramatically and the club slipped further into debt.[171]

In 1993 fans began organising pressure groups to protest against the board, one of the most prominent being "Celts for Change". They strongly supported a takeover bid fronted by Canadian-based businessman Fergus McCann and former director Brian Dempsey. Football writer Jim Traynor likened McCann's attempt to buy the club from the board as being like "good against evil".[173] Despite the club management's obvious failure to move with the times, declining attendances and increasing unrest amongst supporters, the Kelly, White and Grant family groupings continued to jealously guard their control of Celtic.[171]

On 4 March 1994, McCann bought Celtic for £9 million, finally wresting control from the family dynasties that had run the club for almost 100 years.[174][175] When he bought the club it was reported to be within 24 hours of entering receivership due to exceeding a £5 million overdraft with the Bank of Scotland.[155][176] He turned Celtic into a public limited company through a share issue which raised over £14 million, the most successful share issue in British football history.[155][177] He also oversaw the building of a new stadium, the 60,000 seater Celtic Park, which cost £40 million and at the time was Britain's largest capacity football club stadium.[95][155][178] This allowed Celtic to progress as a club because over £20 million was being raised each year from season ticket sales.[155]

McCann had maintained from the outset that he would only be at Celtic for five years and in September 1999 he officially announced that his 50.3% stake in Celtic was for sale. McCann had always wanted the ownership of Celtic to be spread as widely as possible and gave first preference to existing shareholders and season-ticket holders. This was to stop a new consortium taking over the club.[179] 14.4 million shares were sold by McCann at a value of 280 pence each. McCann made £40 million out of this, meaning he left Celtic with a £31 million profit. During his tenure, turnover at Celtic rose by 385% to £33.8m and operating profits rose from £282,000 to £6.7m.[95] McCann was often criticised during his time at Celtic and many people disagreed with him over building a stadium which they thought Celtic couldn't fill, not investing enough in the squad and being overly focused on finance. However, McCann was responsible for the financial recovery of the club and for providing a very good platform for it to build on. After he left Celtic, the club were able to invest in players and achieved much success such as winning The Treble in 2000–01 and reaching the 2003 UEFA Cup Final.[95][155]

After McCann's exit, Irish billionaire Dermot Desmond was left as the majority shareholder. He purchased 2.8 million of McCann's shares to increase his stake in the club from 13% to 20%.[180]

In 2005, Celtic issued a share offer designed to raise £15 million for the club, 50 million new shares were made available priced at 30p each. It was also revealed that majority sharholder Desmond would buy around £10 million worth of the shares. £10 million of the money raised was for building a new state-of-the-art training facility and youth academy, expanding the club's global scouting network and investing in coaching and player development programmes. The rest of the money was to be used to reduce debt. Building a youth academy was important for Celtic to surpass both Hearts and Rangers who had superior youth facilities at the time.[181] The share issue was a success and Celtic had more applicants than shares available,[182] Celtic's new Lennoxtown training centre was opened in October 2007.[183]

Celtic have been ranked in the Deloitte Football Money League six times. This lists the top 20 football clubs in the world according to revenue. They were ranked between 2002 (2000–01 season), 2006 (2004–05 season) and 2008 (2006–07 season).[184][185]

Celtic's financial results for 2011 showed that the club's debt had been reduced from £5.5 million to £500,000 and that a pre-tax profit of £100,000 had been achieved, compared with a loss of over £2 million the previous year. Turnover also decreased by 15% from £63 million to £52 million.[186]

In May 2012, Celtic were rated 37th in Brand Finance's annual valuation of the world's biggest football clubs. Celtic's brand was valued at $64 million (£40.7 million), $15 million more than the previous year. It was the first time a Scottish club had been ranked in the top 50. Matt Hannagan, Sports Brand Valuation Analyst at Brand Finance, said that Celtic were constrained by the amount of money they got from the SPL and that if they were in the Premiership then, due to their large fan base, they could be in the top 10 clubs in the world.[187][188] Later that month David Low, the financial consultant who advised Fergus McCann on his takeover of Celtic in 1994, said that Celtic's 'enterprise value' (how much it would cost to buy the club) was £52 million.[189]


First-team squad

As of 1 September 2016[190]

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
1 Scotland GK Craig Gordon
2 Ivory Coast DF Kolo Touré
3 Honduras DF Emilio Izaguirre
4 Nigeria DF Efe Ambrose
5 Croatia DF Jozo Šimunović
6 Israel MF Nir Bitton
7 Turkey FW Nadir Çiftçi
8 Scotland MF Scott Brown (captain)
9 Scotland FW Leigh Griffiths
10 France FW Moussa Dembélé
11 England MF Scott Sinclair
12 Costa Rica DF Cristian Gamboa
14 Scotland MF Stuart Armstrong
15 Scotland MF Kris Commons
16 Scotland MF Gary Mackay-Steven
No. Position Player
17 Scotland MF Ryan Christie
18 Australia MF Tom Rogic
20 Belgium DF Dedryck Boyata
23 Sweden DF Mikael Lustig (vice-captain)
24 Netherlands GK Dorus de Vries
26 Belgium GK Logan Bailly
27 England MF Patrick Roberts (on loan from Manchester City)
28 Denmark DF Erik Sviatchenko
34 Republic of Ireland DF Eoghan O'Connell
35 Norway MF Kristoffer Ajer
38 Italy GK Leonardo Fasan
42 Scotland MF Callum McGregor
49 Scotland MF James Forrest
53 Scotland MF Liam Henderson
63 Scotland DF Kieran Tierney

Out on loan

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
19 Scotland MF Scott Allan (on loan to Rotherham United)
22 Switzerland DF Saidy Janko (on loan to Barnsley)
29 Northern Ireland FW Michael Duffy (on loan to Dundee)
33 Scotland FW Paul McMullan (on loan to Dunfermline Athletic)
47 Republic of Ireland DF Fiacre Kelleher (on loan to Peterhead)
No. Position Player
52 Scotland MF Joe Thomson (on loan to Dumbarton)
54 Scotland MF Jamie Lindsay (on loan to Greenock Morton)
55 Scotland MF Aidan Nesbitt (on loan to Greenock Morton)
Republic of Ireland GK Colin McCabe (on loan to Stenhousemuir)

Development and Youth squads

For Celtic's development and youth squads, see Celtic Development and Youth squads.

Former players

For further information, see List of Celtic F.C. players for players with over 100 appearances, List of Celtic F.C. international footballers and Category:Celtic FC players for a general list of ex-players.

Club captains

For further information, see Celtic club captains

List of Celtic F.C. captains[191]
Name Period
Scotland James Kelly 1888–1897
Scotland Dan Doyle 1897–1899
Scotland Sandy McMahon 1899–1903
Scotland Willie Orr 1903–1906
Scotland Jimmy Hay 1906–1911
Scotland Jim Young 1911–1917
Scotland Alec McNair 1917–1920
Scotland Willie Cringan 1920–1923
Scotland Charlie Shaw 1923–1925
Scotland Willie McStay 1925–1929
Scotland Jimmy McStay 1929–1934
Scotland Bobby Hogg 1934–1935
Scotland Willie Lyon 1935–1939
Scotland John McPhail 1948–1953
Republic of Ireland Sean Fallon 1952–1953
Name Period
Scotland Jock Stein 1953–1955
Scotland Bobby Evans 1955–1957
Northern Ireland Bertie Peacock 1957–1961
Scotland Duncan MacKay 1961–1963
Scotland Billy McNeill 1963–1975
Scotland Kenny Dalglish 1975–1977
Scotland Danny McGrain 1977–1987
Scotland Roy Aitken 1987–1990
Scotland Paul McStay 1990–1997
Scotland Tom Boyd 1997–2002
Scotland Paul Lambert 2002–2004
Scotland Jackie McNamara 2004–2005
Northern Ireland Neil Lennon 2005–2007
Scotland Stephen McManus 2007–2010
Scotland Scott Brown 2010–present

Greatest ever team

Greatest ever Celtic team

The following team was voted the greatest ever Celtic team by supporters in 2002:[192]

Club officials

Board of directors

Position[193][194] Name
Chairman Ian Bankier
Chief Executive Peter Lawwell
Financial director Chris McKay
Senior independent director Tom Allison
Independent non-executive director Dermot Desmond
Independent non-executive director Ian Livingston
Independent non-executive director Eric J. Riley
Independent non-executive director Brian Wilson
Company secretary Michael Nicholson


Position Name
Manager Brendan Rodgers
Assistant Manager Chris Davies
First Team Coach John Kennedy
Head of Performance Glen Driscoll
Performance Consultant Jim McGuinness
Goalkeeping Coach Stevie Woods
Head of Youth and Academy Chris McCart
Under 20 Coach Tommy McIntyre
Head of Sports Science Jack Naylor
Football Development Manager Vacant

Managerial history

Name Period
Scotland Willie Maley 1897–1940
Scotland Jimmy McStay 1940–1945
Scotland Jimmy McGrory 1945–1965
Scotland Jock Stein 1965–1978
Scotland Billy McNeill 1978–1983
Scotland David Hay 1983–1987
Republic of Ireland Liam Brady 1991–1993
Scotland Lou Macari 1993–1994
Scotland Tommy Burns 1994–1997
Name Period
Netherlands Wim Jansen 1997–1998
Slovakia Jozef Vengloš 1998–1999
England John Barnes 1999–2000
Northern Ireland Martin O'Neill 2000–2005
Scotland Gordon Strachan 2005–2009
England Tony Mowbray 2009–2010
Northern Ireland Neil Lennon 2010–2014
Norway Ronny Deila 2014–2016
Northern Ireland Brendan Rodgers 2016–

Halls of Fame

Scotland Football Hall of Fame

As of 21 September 2015, 22 Celtic players and managers have entered the Scottish Football Hall of Fame:[196]

Scotland Roll of Honour

The Scotland national football team roll of honour recognises players who have gained 50 or more international caps for Scotland. Inductees to have played for Celtic are:[202]

Numbers in brackets indicate the number of caps the above players won whilst at Celtic.[203]

Scottish Sports Hall of Fame

In the Scottish Sports Hall of Fame, five Celtic players have been selected, they are:


For a full list of honours including minor, reserve and youth competitions, see list of Celtic F.C. records and statistics § Honours.

Domestic honours

Trophy case at Celtic Park


1892–93, 1893–94, 1895–96, 1897–98, 1904–05, 1905–06, 1906–07, 1907–08, 1908–09, 1909–10, 1913–14, 1914–15, 1915–16, 1916–17, 1918–19, 1921–22, 1925–26, 1935–36, 1937–38, 1953–54, 1965–66, 1966–67, 1967–68, 1968–69, 1969–70, 1970–71, 1971–72, 1972–73, 1973–74, 1976–77, 1978–79, 1980–81, 1981–82, 1985–86, 1987–88, 1997–98, 2000–01, 2001–02, 2003–04, 2005–06, 2006–07, 2007–08, 2011–12, 2012–13, 2013–14, 2014–15, 2015–16
1891–92, 1898–99, 1899–1900, 1903–04, 1906–07, 1907–08, 1910–11, 1911–12, 1913–14, 1922–23, 1924–25, 1926–27, 1930–31, 1932–33, 1936–37, 1950–51, 1953–54, 1964–65, 1966–67, 1968–69, 1970–71, 1971–72, 1973–74, 1974–75, 1976–77, 1979–80, 1984–85, 1987–88, 1988–89, 1994–95, 2000–01, 2003–04, 2004–05, 2006–07, 2010–11, 2012–13
1956–57, 1957–58, 1965–66, 1966–67, 1967–68, 1968–69, 1969–70, 1974–75, 1982–83, 1997–98, 1999–2000, 2000–01, 2005–06, 2008–09, 2014–15, 2016–17

Continental honours

Other awards


1 Awarded to the fans of Celtic.

Doubles and trebles

1966–67, 1968–69, 2000–01
1906–07, 1907–08, 1913–14, 1953–54, 1970–71, 1971–72, 1973–74, 1976–77, 1987–88, 2003–04, 2006–07, 2012–13
1965-66, 1967–68, 1969–70, 1997–98, 2005–06, 2014–15


Club records

Individual records


As of August 2016, Celtic are sponsored by:[247]


  1. Although the club was "formally constituted" in 1887, no matches were played until 1888. The latter date is listed by the club as their foundation date; for example, on the club badge.
  2. Newspaper reports at the time indicate that the officially returned attendance was given as 83,500, with an estimated further 10,000 supporters locked out of the ground for safety reasons. However, the ground's capacity was gauged at the time as being around 88,000 and several subsequent sources (including the club's official website) have since revised the attendance up to 92,000.


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