Celtic are believed to be interested in buying an Australian football club, according to reports in the country.
A report in the Sydney Morning Herald claims the Parkhead side are exploring the possibility of following Manchester City’s example and buying an ownership stake in an A-League side, with Central Coast Mariners - former club of Hoops midfielder Tom Rogic - believed to be top of the list.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Celtic are said to be keen on ‘exploring business and investment opportunities’ in Australian football and could look to build on their existing relationship with the Mariners, from whom they signed Rogic in January 2013.
Representatives from Celtic travelled to Australia earlier this month and spent time at the Mariners’ new training centre, before taking in the club’s 2-0 win over Sydney FC on 10 November.
While a potential takeover bid wasn’t discussed during the trip, sources claim Celtic have signalled an interest in buying into the Australian top flight in the future.
Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald, Mariners’ chairman Mike Charlesworth said he ‘wasn’t surprised about Celtic’s interest’ but added: “I haven’t personally spoken to anyone at Celtic, that’s been handled by [chief executive] Shaun [Mielekamp] and [chief financial officer] Kathy [Duncan].”
The Mariners are not the only club on Celtic’s radar, with Brisbane Roar also understood to be a potential target.
There are uncertainties over Brisbane Roar’s future under its current ownership, with the Indonesian-Bakrie Group reportedly dealing with payment issues and ‘ongoing financial difficulties’.
As well as Celtic, Dutch giants Ajax and Red Bull - owners of RB Leipzig and Red Bull Salzburg in Europe - are also seeking to invest in Australia and possibly Asia as well.
The introduction of a new operating model, designed to give A-League clubs greater independence, is on the cards, and is due to be signed off in the next few days.
But any bid from Celtic is unlikely to come until the start of next month at the earliest, when there are assurances over the governing of Australian football, says the Herald.