The Celtic signing target who would not be swayed by EPL interest

There was a time, albeit 26 years ago, when the allure of the English Premiership could not sway the decision of one of Europe’s most prolific goal-scorers against signing for Celtic.

Back in 1997, Harald Brattbakk was a striker in high demand due in no small part to his Champions League goal-scoring exploits.

By the time Rosenborg finished runners-up to Real Madrid in Group D of the 1997/98 tournament, Brattbakk had shocked the eventual winners with a goal during the Norwegians’ unlikely 2-0 home victory.

This result was no flash in the pan either, as Rosenborg gathered an impressive 11 points, just two shy of the Spanish group winners. In fact, with just two minutes to go in their final game against Olympiacos, Rosenborg were qualifying for the quarter-finals as the highest-placed runners-up in the groups. If Predrag Đorđević hadn’t equalised to make their final game 2-2, Brattbakk would not have left Rosenborg for Celtic when he did.

This was due to the character of the unassuming Brattbakk. He had promised to stay with the Norwegian champions until their European campaign was over, and Celtic were in a sweat when his side nearly made the quarters. Wim Jansen’s team weren’t the only ones in the chase for Rosenborg’s top marksman, as clubs from Portugal, Belgium and England had all watched him in action.

Following Brattbakk’s October 1997 visit to Glasgow, where he verbally agreed to sign for Celtic on the proviso that he would only do so when Rosenborg’s Champions League journey was over, Newcastle’s Kenny Dalglish entered the race for the striker.

Newcastle were without the injured Tino Asprilla and Alan Shearer, and Brattbakk was on their shortlist of targets alongside Strasbourg’s David Zitelli (later of Hibs). Following scouting missions by Newcastle, there was strong speculation that Dalglish had turned Brattbakk’s head, but the Norwegian was true to his word and signed for Celtic.

Despite never having had the chance to sample the English Premiership, Brattbakk still has an opinion on his former club’s chances of competing in that league should the opportunity ever arise.

“They would have a really hard time competing with the Top 6 teams in the Premier League,” reckoned Brattbakk when talking to Boyle Sports. “It would give them much more financial muscle to utilise in the league however, they should still continue to prioritise developing young talent for high profits as that would make them more likely to compete.”

“Scottish football would not allow it, so there is no chance this is even remotely possible. As long as they can compete well against European clubs on a consistent basis in the Champions League, then any talk of the Premier League is just premature.”

Whenever the subject of Celtic playing in the English Premiership arises, what many pundits seem to ignore is that the Glasgow giants would not be operating at the financial level they currently function at in Scotland. Their buying power would increase dramatically, as would their global brand. That main stand at Celtic Park would finally need redeveloped, and the additional seats would sell out for every home game.

If Celtic were ever to play elsewhere, I wonder if our opponents would be so short-sighted as to cut ticket allocation for travelling supporters to nominal amounts, thus reducing the spectacle of the occasion?

I very much doubt it, but I guess we’ll never know.


Leave a Reply