BRENDAN Rodgers’ sudden departure for Leicester City wasn’t bad news for everyone with an interest in Celtic. For Nick Train, the co-founder of investment fund Lindsell Train, the consequent 6p drop in the share price represented a priceless opportunity to increase his shareholding in the Parkhead club.

Quick as a flash, this portfolio manager with 30 years of experience in investment management, increased his stake in the club to 18.4%, a value of £28.1m. All that is enough to make him Celtic’s second largest shareholder behind Irish financier Dermot Desmond. But who exactly is he and what is his game?

Well, for a start, Train – a Modern History graduate from Queen’s College, Oxford – is a man who sees the merits in putting money into sports franchises. A shareholder in Celtic for eight years now who controls an equity fund worth a whopping £5.8bn, most of his investment in the Parkhead side comes through Lindsell Train, who also have significant shareholdings in both Manchester United and Juventus.

While insiders insist there is nothing sinister in the growing size of his involvement, nor any imminent change to the club’s existing arrangements within the sleepy backwater which is the Scottish football, Train and his cohorts are happy to take the long view. Whether or not Celtic are ever allowed to take sole control of their media rights – as opposed to packaging them in existing Scottish broadcast deals – his firm see the merits in acquiring stakes in solid, established global brands, particularly at a time where the amount of different platforms for the diaspora of followers to consume a variety of different content.

“We believe that the world will never be bored of being informed or entertained and that sports franchises have the power to draw the largest number of eyeballs, making them amongst the most valuable of intellectual properties,” he says. “And their value is rising with the proliferation of distribution platforms - whether they be broadcasters, cable channels, social media or direct to consumer – needing quality content to capture the attention of their customers. Live sports content is perhaps the most valuable as it draws in loyal, large and engaged audiences of the type that advertisers most value. Moreover, football has a growing audience globally.”

The short term turmoil of Brendan Rodgers’ departure is but a blip. “We take a long-term view on our investments in football clubs and are not concerned by short-term performance on the field,” says Train. “We take comfort from the fact historic takeovers of sports franchises are valued at generally much higher levels than the current valuations of the sports holdings in our portfolios.

“However, there are few quoted football clubs to choose from globally. We have long-standing investments in Celtic and Juventus and two years ago started an investment in Manchester United (having held it before it was taken over by the Glazers). Celtic has a relatively small market cap and is tightly held so we look to take advantage of increasing our stake when shares are available.”

David Low, a financial analyst involved in the deal brokered by Fergus McCann which made the Parkhead side the titan they are today, sees the logic in the position – not least as, seven titles down, Celtic have such a dominant market position within Scotland. “Celtic are perceived as a very well-run company, they have a very stable ownership profile with Dermot Desmond owning 44%, a very good chief executive and a very good board,” says Low. “Peter Lawwell is seen as a safe pair of hands. They are financially solvent, the biggest fish in a small pond - a well-run, global franchise – albeit stuck in a small market. So you’re money is safe in Celtic. But the market is changing. There are eSports opportunities which Celtic could benefit from, which are not covered by the SFA’s jurisdiction. This is basically electronic gaming, in team form, it is growing, it is global, and it is 24/7.

“The major impediment to investment in Celtic is the fact that it is one of the biggest clubs in the world, as all statistics show, but it is stuck in this league,” Low adds. “If Celtic had their mitts on the TV money which a lot of smaller teams have in different leagues, it would be a top 10 team in the world.

“But he whole TV rights landscape is changing, people don’t watch TV on a big screen on the wall for 90 minutes, they watch the goals on a device delivered by streaming. Trends and tastes are all changing and change brings with it opportunity. But right now Celtic are simply a safe bet, with cash in the bank, a big fish in a small pond with opportunities to break out of that and an almost guaranteed ticket into the Champions League. To be mildly political, I think the gap between Celtic and Rangers financially has never been bigger.”

“He is a long term investor, a Celtic supporter of how many years who likes what he sees. He saw an opportunity to increase his shareholding and if somebody else’s shareholding became available he would probably buy more.”

“There is a diaspora of potential Celtic supporters from Scottish Catholics around the world that follow the club vicariously,” said Train in 2018. “If ever Celtic were to tap into that supporter base more, or could morph their media rights from just the Scottish Premiership into something bigger, the revenues of the company could double or triple very quickly.”