Weighing in at 81lbs, Celtic tome is a heavy read

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IF YOU buy this to fill a stocking then make sure it's very large, and reinforced.

A new book to be published to celebrate one of Scotland's leading football clubs next month weighs in at an astonishing 37kg (81lbs).

The Celtic Opus is the latest in a series of high-quality, limited edition collectors' books aimed at fans with deep pockets. It's not only the weight that is eye-watering – the price of the least expensive version is 1,700.

But the publisher, Kraken Opus, owned by a former Goldman Sachs investment banker Karl Fowler, is confident that all 1,250 copies of the club's history will sell. A similar version produced for Manchester United in 2006 has already sold thousands of copies.

Kraken Opus also insists that the 800-page book, despite the hefty price tag, is an investment. A Manchester United Opus signed by the Prime Minister of Dubai, HRH Sheikh Rashid bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, was recently sold at a charity auction for 758,000.

The Celtic Opus, which measures an impressive half a square metre, has taken over two years to produce and contains more than 200,000 words contributed by leading sports writers including Scotland on Sunday's Andrew Smith.

It documents the inside story of Celtic FC from its humble beginnings in 1887 to the modern-day successes of Gordon Strachan and Martin O'Neill. The glossy book, bound in leather and protected by a silk-covered case, pays special tributes to legendary Celtic figures such as the Maley brothers, Patsy Gallacher, Jock Stein, Jimmy Johnstone and all the famous Lisbon Lions.

It also includes exclusive interviews and features on club legends such as Henrik Larsson, Kenny Dalglish, Dixie Deans and Neil Lennon.

The Opus also has more than 1,000 archive photographs of the most iconic and memorable moments in Celtic's history. Special versions signed by Celtic greats will cost even more than the basic price.

Celtic manager Gordon Strachan said: "Celtic fans are among some of the most passionate and enthusiastic in the world and the Celtic Opus embodies this passion in a publication never seen before. The Celtic Opus is a real testament to the history and majesty of one of Europe's greatest clubs."

Fowler said: "Celtic is a club with great cultural significance and a passionate fan base and it was a fantastic honour to partner them and produce the Celtic Opus. It will not only appeal to Celtic fans but also sports and art collectors around the world. The limited print run also makes it an extremely good investment that will be enjoyed by today's and future generations."

Supporters said that despite the hefty price tag they expected it to sell well to wealthier fans.

Nick Dinning, general secretary of the Affiliation of Celtic Supporters' Clubs, said: "I don't think many of the ordinary supporters will be getting it for Christmas – I certainly won't – but there are some here who earn more than the footballers.

"If you can afford it then it's a fantastic book to have. It costs the same as the most expensive season ticket but personally I'd rather spend the money on watching the games."

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