YOU willingly subjugate yourself to a form of serfdom when you choose to follow a football club. In no other human endeavour are you so happy to be parted from your cash in exchange for a lifetime of anxiety and uncertain outcomes. This makes those of us who have succumbed to such earthly idolatry vulnerable to the ravages of untethered and unholy capitalism. The football clubs and players who by accidents of birth or mere geographical happenstance are the beneficiaries of their supporters’ eternal discipleship are often their most ruthless predators.

The absurdities and dissonances of allegiance to a football club are endless. My club, Celtic, ceaselessly proclaim that they are “more than just a club”. This, I think, is meant to convey the sense that they are driven by loftier aspirations than those to be found amidst the treacherous and shallow world of football commerce. Celtic have made their humble beginnings and original mission to the poor and victimised Irish refugees a formidable marketing tool. They are bound to a higher purpose in life and a golden thread of human redemption curls up through their DNA.

Many Celtic supporters are proud to declare their allegiance to an assortment of left-wing and global movements which we believe reinforce our sense of who we think we are and what we are about. Last week their much-maligned Green Brigade section blazoned their support for the plight of those refugees living in Glasgow who have been threatened with summary eviction without warning. On several weeks throughout this season this same reviled faction will organise foodbanks for some of the most deprived and destitute communities in Glasgow’s East End.

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Yet on all matters to do with the core business of winning football games and gaining trophies we are like fascists. Very little human compassion is permitted to be wasted in the unquenchable thirst for success. We cherish the socialist principles of our club yet are happy for it to profit from the pursuit of pure capitalism. We have more money at our disposal than all of our closest rivals combined. Yet, we would be outraged if we were to share some of this with our neediest neighbours, if even merely to engender a keener sense of competition. Like all football fans who otherwise hold to the values of socialism I am happily complicit in this.

Celtic have annexed the last nine trophies available to them in Scottish football. Yet, like a billionaire who can’t stop accumulating wealth the word ‘enough’ doesn’t figure in a football fan’s lexicon. If Neil Lennon fails to deliver a ninth league title in succession he knows he faces a firing squad assembled from among those who previously ascribed to him the gift of walking on water. We proclaim our support for the rights of workers and enlightened employment policies but have no hesitation in making those footballers employed by our club walk the plank if we, who are all hopeless amateurs, don’t think they are up to much. Our club only agreed reluctantly to sign up to pay a Living Wage for its poorest employees in exchange for them sacrificing their annual bonuses. Like many other clubs Celtic acts as a willing proxy for online betting firms to prey on their most vulnerable supporters.

For supporters of most other Scottish football clubs the only consolation is perhaps the glow engendered by an occasional win and a cup upset every five years or so. I sometimes wonder if the joy of an unexpected triumph in adversity is deeper than what you experience when another piece of entitled silverware is delivered.

This week, though, Celtic had a taste of what it is like to be at the wrong end of free market forces beyond their control. Reluctantly, they were forced to sell their best player and brightest prospect Kieran Tierney to the London club Arsenal who exist in a galaxy far, far away from Celtic’s. Certainly, they got decent value for him but what good is £25m when you know the players whom you require as replacements will, in all probability, prefer not to play in Scotland?

Neil Lennon: Kieran Tierney will go down as a Celtic legend like Kenny Dalglish, Charlie Nicholas and Virgil van Dijk

Celtic’s annual goal is to make fleeting contact with clubs like Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Juventus in the Champions League. To get to this hallowed place, however, they must negotiate an eight-game obstacle course that gets stiffer each year. Rangers have to face similar odds to reach the Europa League.

In this Celtic share the same fate as other once-great European clubs like Benfica, Ajax and Anderlecht in Portugal, Holland and Belgium. Their agony is that they don’t belong to a gang of five countries – Spain, Germany, Italy, France and England – whose biggest football clubs have become magnets for super global wealth.

That much of this cash is tainted by human slavery; corruption, gangsterism and money-laundering seems not to matter. What does matter is that Europe’s governing football body, which acts like a small but very powerful and cash-rich independent republic, has declared it clean. Its highest pinnacle of competition has now been reduced to an annual, luxury yacht-race reserved for the best clubs in these countries and a host of boutique others. Several are owned overseas by individuals and states attracted by the opportunity to normalise questionable human rights regimes and cash sources with access to previously denied television markets. Within a few years it will be impossible for a football club on ability alone even to be admitted into the presence of the big five. At this point the last remnants of anything resembling competition will have been expunged. Football, still laughingly referred to as the People’s Game, will have eaten itself.

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The answer may lie in the equivalent of well-organised industrial action, the only strategy which ever brings capital to the table. The medium-range countries which lie outside the big five must act in concert and withdraw their labour from UEFA’s competitions and threaten the establishment of a rival body. The trickle-down effect of Scottish participation in the Champions League and access to the riches that lie there also guarantees the financial future of our smaller clubs.

Beyond this lies another model if we’re serious about the democratisation and long-term sustainability of football in Scotland. This is the franchise system which guarantees real competition and diversity in American sport. It’s the only way of ensuring the wealth distribution which I and other supporters proclaim loudly in all other spheres of human existence.