'The majority of the team should be from Glasgow' - Ex-SPL chief urges Celtic to shake up club's football philosophy

Celtic chief Peter Lawwell pictured at the Premiership game with HeartsCeltic chief Peter Lawwell pictured at the Premiership game with Hearts
Celtic chief Peter Lawwell pictured at the Premiership game with Hearts
Roger Mitchell has urged Celtic to adopt a "gallus local kids" youth programme as the former SPL chief executive hit out at the club's poor performances in Europe but praised "near legend" Peter Lawwell.

In a series of messages posted on Twitter, Mitchell - who headed up the Scottish Premier League between 1998 and 2002 and is a big fan of the Scottish champions - called on the board to install a philosophy that wouldn't change with manager / recruitment chief. He praised Lawwell for "finding and delivering an excellent strategy" after the UEFA Cup final appearance in 2003, writing: "Its main aim was financial stability. Make the club self sufficient."

Mitchell added: "In this period of outstanding financial results, the footballing performance trend has not been positive.

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"We underperform teams with lower wage bills. i.e. no [value for money]. We are losing in [Champions League] qualifiers to smaller teams than us. [Celtic Park] is no longer a fortress.

"The Board needs to accept that, because now is the moment to change. In 2003, teams like Celtic could still touch the coattails of the Hollywood clubs. Now that’s impossible. It is a different sport. It’s time for a new raison d’etre. Luckily we have one. “More than a club”.

"But those can’t be just words. It means our values. Both socially and in football philosophy. Celtic was founded for its local community. Celtic has always been an attacking team. Gallus local kids. We saw West Ham going the same way back to a youth programme around a certain type of play and player. The West Ham Way, for them.

"That's what we should be planning for. A philosophy that doesn't change with a manager and the Congerton of the day. We should then choose our manager and coaches to fit that style."

Mitchell also suggested that he felt the majority of the Hoops team should be from the club's youth system. Currently, James Forrest and Mikey Johnston are the only regular academy graduates in the first-team squad, although Anthony Ralston came off the bench against Hearts, Conor Hazard was an unused sub in the Betfred Cup win over Dunfermline and Calvin Miller has also featured in previous seasons.

Mitchell continued: "The majority of the team should be from the academy. The feel of the team should be Glasgow, Scotland and Celtic. Always.

"I know ten-in-a-row is all that matters. But let's prepare our vision for the day after - brand values and football philosophy. If we want to sell this "More than a club" line, we need to live it.

"I'm writing all this now because Sunday [Old Firm clash against Rangers] may be a watershed. And I want to put down my cards before. Because the above opinion doesn’t change, win or lose."

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Mitchell, who courted controversy recently for comments he made about Celtic striker Leigh Griffiths, rounded off his thread on Twitter by praising the club's chief executive Peter Lawwell, adding: "Peter Lawwell is close to a Celtic legend for me. Truly. His balanced scorecard is mainly positive but it’s not perfect. They never are.

"He has been true to his profession and is an excellent CFO/CEO businessman. The accounts are beautiful. He is not a brand guy. He is not really a football guy and we have regressed on the field.

"If we lose on Sunday, keep it in perspective and remember the achievements of these 17 years. If we win, the future still needs dealt with. Ten-in-a-row is bragging rights. Remember Brother Walfrid. More than a club. Socially and in the football we play."