Shiels fears Celtic are step closer to SPL exit

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Kilmarnock manager Kenny Shiels is worried that beating Barcelona on Wednesday will lead to the departure of Celtic from the Scottish game.

Shiels, who has led his side to victories over Neil Lennon’s men at Hampden in the League Cup final and also taken all three points from them in the league at Parkhead this year, claims that it’s inevitable that the Glasgow giants will quit the SPL sooner rather than later.

“I think it sent out a message that English football needs Celtic, I would say,” he claimed. “Because they’ve got the infrastructure to play in the elite Premier League, as I would call it, they have the capacity to do that. The SPL would be competitive but I don’t think it would be better. I don’t want that to happen, I wouldn’t want Celtic to leave Scottish football.

“But I think it is inevitable when you’re talking about a 
European league and it’s probably more likely to go to a European league, with Celtic one of the clubs going into that. I think they’ve outgrown Scottish football because of their spending capacity in comparison to the others.

“Is it not a level playing field? I’m not going to say that as that is a defeatist statement from an SPL manager. I’m just saying that they’ve outgrown Scottish football in terms of what they can achieve. They’ve just beaten Barcelona so how do you improve on that?”

Shiels also revealed that he could have been sending out Tony Watt, who scored the winner against Barcelona, to face Ross County at Rugby Park tomorrow if Celtic hadn’t beaten him to the 17-year-old’s signature last year.

“I remember when he was at Airdrie United and I thought I had him and then he signed for Celtic,” he said. “I was working towards it and went to see him three times and I was starting to make inroads into that. They were looking for a fee and I spoke to people connected and I was actually on my way to watch him again when Celtic signed him. People think he’s one that has come from 
nowhere, although he started with Airdrie. Celtic are spending a lot of money on their youth programme – which is fantastic – but he isn’t actually a product of that.

“I think Airdrie should get £1 million if he scores in a European group match; that should have been a clause – my chairman would have included it!”

Kilmarnock goalkeeper Cammy Bell had the red card he was shown against Inverness last weekend rescinded after an 
appeal yesterday and he’s now free to play tomorrow.