Brendan Rodgers insists Celtic possess something even the apparently limitless resources of Paris Saint-Germain cannot buy as they attempt to become the dominant force in European football.
The Celtic manager believes his club’s history is simply priceless in an era in which rich owners, such as the Qatar Sports Investment group who bought PSG five years ago, are “making a mockery” of Uefa’s Financial Fair Play rules.
The French champions, who crushed Celtic 5-0 in Glasgow back in September, are under investigation by European football’s governing body for potential breaches in those regulations in a season in which they have assembled a £400 million front three of Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani.
As Celtic prepare for tonight’s daunting return fixture in Group B of the Champions League at the Parc des Princes, Rodgers agrees that it will take time before world football will embrace PSG who were formed in 1970.
“PSG are trying to create a history here and that takes a number of years,” said Rodgers. “The warmth that goes out to clubs like Barcelona, for example, could go back to Johan Cruyff and the era where he was there. Rinus Michels before that, they were creating something. That is history, so it is time, like Manchester City in the English Premier League. You can’t buy history, it is about winning trophies, winning titles. Here, if you think about PSG, you look and I think everyone will agree it is arguably the most exciting front three in world football. But to back that up you have to win trophies and sustain that success over many games. Then you get the kids and people supporting you, because that is what naturally happens in any sport.
“Los Angeles Lakers were popular because they were winning. Liverpool, a big support all over the world, because they won five European Cups. PSG will be supported when they win and win consistently. Barcelona – there is an affection for them because they have been winners.
“Have Celtic got something you can’t buy in terms of that history? Yes, absolutely. You can’t buy that.
“We will never be able to do what PSG are doing in terms of finance. That is why people will think it is wrong in football. But it is modern football in every format.
“But Celtic have something a lot of clubs don’t have – a rich history, a support and a fanbase a lot of clubs don’t have.
“Speak about PSG in 20 years time and see where they are. This is the formation now of a club that has investment and they clearly want to be winners. Can they then sustain that over time?
“If you are talking big, iconic clubs – and for me a big club has history, support, fan base and all that – then Celtic, of course, has all that. But we don’t have anywhere near the finances of a club like PSG.”
Asked if he felt the potential breaches of FFP diminished the Champions League, Rodgers added: “Well, others can spend it, it is whether they decide to or not.
“It certainly does make a mockery of it, because it is hard to find where the fair play is in it when it comes to paying £200m for the buy-out clause for a player.
“But I don’t tend to get bogged down in that side of it. Because there are so many rich clubs out there. Now you have countries looking after clubs, not just rich owners. Ultimately they can bring more of the talents together, where in the past you used to have just two or three talents.
“But I tend not to overthink about it, the money in the game now is astronomical, it benefits so many people, players, owners, fans, but there are rules there to govern the game and they have to try to stick by them the best they can.”