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Wolves friendly will uncover just how big the Celtic support is in Ireland

Brendan Rodgers will set foot on ‘home’ soil tomorrow as Celtic manager for the first time in more than four years.

The official Celtic Park welcome will be delayed until the James Forrest Testimonial on Tuesday but the friendly against Wolves at the Aviva Stadium will be interesting on and off the pitch.

This week Celtic have revealed three new signings but it is unlikely that any of them will start the match, Maik Nawrocki might not even be in the squad due to injury.

With a week to go Rodgers needs to be putting together his side for the competitive action with the defence the area of most concern/interest.

Cameron Carter-Vickers is on his way back from surgery but is a few weeks behind the rest of the squad in terms of game time but the only way to get there is to get back involved, managing that is in the hands of the club medics.

Off the pitch, in the stands of the Aviva Stadium the strength of the Celtic support in Ireland can be measured.

Previously at the 51,700 capacity stadium Celtic have been up against Barcelona and Liverpool but it is unlikely that Wolves are going to bring in many floating fans, they don’t have a Lionel Messi, Steven Gerrard or Luis Suarez for the day-trippers.

There is little doubt that Celtic have the most committed, organised and active support across Ireland with supporters clubs leaving every county for the pilgrimage to home matches at Celtic Park.

It would be fair to say that there are 5,000 Irish based fans inside Celtic Park at Saturday home matches but the true scale of the support is unknown.

The short notice given for the Wolves match will be a factor in tomorrow’s attendance, across Ireland at this time of year the sporting focus is firmly on GAA but a 2pm kick off in Dublin is far more convenient than Tuesday’s 7.45 kick off against Athletic Club of Bilbao.

A weekend trip to Dublin holds plenty of appeal for fans based in Scotland and England but the Irish capital is one of the most expensive places in Europe with many folk already having holiday plans in place.

Celtic Fanzine covered a number of the issues facing Celtic in Ireland, how to break beyond that core support to attract the more casual fan into having a greater connection with a Glasgow based club that owes everything about their existence and purpose to Ireland.

Saturation coverage of the EPL is the huge challenge, as well as the English media bombardment the Dublin based broadcasters and publishers provide round the clock coverage of events in Manchester, Liverpool and London.

An annual match in Dublin would be a good start, seeing the B team in action around the country with increased commercial activity would bring the club greater attention and profile.

Above all nothing attracts attention like success, these days that needs to be in Europe where Celtic Park is producing memorable European victories rather than getting plaudits from visitors about their Bucket List.

Although they have been involved in the pre-season build up it would be a stretch to say that Rocco Vata, Liam Scales or Bosun Lawal are truly in the first team scene, having an Irish player in the side would be a boost but that will be decided on playing ability by the manager rather than marketing team, as it should be.

No marketing campaign can create the impact of a home win over Barcelona or Manchester United- it is a tall order but no doubt it is part of the appeal to Rodgers after his second stint in the glitzy and lucrative EPL circuit.

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  • by Stevie
    Posted July 28, 2023 12:34 pm 0Likes

    I’m originally from Scotland, live in Ireland and although we have a healthy following and active support in Ireland, sadly, the majority of the people here are only interested in the EPL. Man Utd or Liverpool to be precise. Unless you are in a pub with a Celtic supporters Club, the majority of pubs you need to ask them to put the Celtic match on for you.

    Sadly the younger generation are brainwashed by Sky Sports News bullshit… The GAA match is an excuse. The Celtic tickets have been available for ages, and still are available. Man Utd play Bilbao at the Aviva next week and was sold out almost immediately.

  • by Jinky
    Posted July 28, 2023 1:49 pm 0Likes

    The match was only announced a few weeks ago after it was cancelled in Korea and prices are extortionate for a friendly, as are hotel rooms. Very harsh to judge those who cant go tomorrow.

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