In the absence of Rangers, while the Ibrox club recovers in the lower leagues, and with participation in the qualification stages of the Champions League all but guaranteed for at least three consecutive seasons, he recognises the opportunity to establish the club's status on the European stage. That has consequences, though, that allow the Celtic chief executive to widen the horizons.
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Lawwell and three other members of the Celtic management staff flew to China yesterday, ostensibly to develop links with what is accepted as a market of increasing potential. It is difficult for any club to build a significantly beneficial presence in the region, since many of the population are not wealthy enough to spend money on football merchandise and even achieving television coverage is unlikely, but it can still be a worthwhile trip. The Scottish Professional Football League have sold the internet broadcasting rights to China, which Lawwell describes as "a start" to the process of building a presence there.
John Park, Celtic's football development manager, is among the delegation, and he will seek to develop football links, as well as taking in some games. There will be commercial discussions, as well as exploring potential community initiatives. As with all attempts to broaden the reach of either Old Firm club - which can genuinely claim to have supporters clubs established across the globe - Celtic are in competition with the Barclays Premier League sides. That is an uneven contest given the vast wealth that is generated in the top tier of English football, but Lawwell can at least take advantage of his club's Champions League exposure.
"It's the third time we have been out [to China] this year," said Lawwell. "Whenever these countries develop, football follows. They're football crazy, mainly about the English Premier League and the Champions League. So with our profile and exposure, people are now talking about Celtic.
"There is a lot of outward investment coming from China now into the UK. They are looking for a presence and they are looking to invest in a lot of western European companies and brands. We are going to sign an agreement with a Chinese company who are going to represent us. It's not investment. It's sponsorship, commercial and maybe some social projects.
"The difficulty we have in any international sponsorship is the competition, which is mainly the English Premier League. They say they have three billion people who watch the English league; Manchester United claim they have 600 million supporters. That is the challenge. How do we, playing in Scotland with little exposure, attract sponsorship? Champions League is one. For Chinese companies looking to establish themselves in Europe, they get a bit of profile."
The trip to China is a slow-burning initiative, since any results would take time to emerge. Even so, there is a realisation at the club that this spell, with Rangers out of the top flight, is an opportunity to take advantage of. The team will always start the season as comfortable favourites for the title, which in turn leads to the Champions League qualifiers. For the strategy Lawwell has instigated - of signing players from under-utilised markets and selling them the vision of playing at Celtic as a step towards moving to England - this regular involvement in Europe's leading competition is significant.
It allows the transfer model to self-perpetuate, because the more Celtic buy, develop and sell players in this manner, the more their reputation grows as a club where players can bolster their reputation and their profile. Celtic can also consider themselves established in the tier below the elite European clubs, which encourages Lawwell to think that any discussions of breakaway European leagues would eventually involve his club.
"There's always chatter but I don't think there's any structure at the moment behind it," he said. "But who knows? The dynamic is that the strong get stronger and the weak get weaker. Ultimately, UEFA are beginning to realise that and their possible solution is this regional league concept. At the moment, my interpretation is the relationships are okay between the clubs in the ECA [European Club Association] and UEFA and I don't see any major breakaway in the next few years.
"We're keeping in touch with our contacts in the ECA in terms of what is happening in the bigger picture and we'd like to think that if there is change we would be involved in the discussion. Competition is the lifeblood of sport so if something happens you have to think there is a possibility of it in the longer term."