Northern League club signs League players
29 July ~ A small club from Carlisle have been causing a stir during the summer. Celtic Nation changed their name from Gillford Park after earning promotion into Division One of the Northern League, four levels below the Conference. Launched in 2005, the club's name change is designed to attract the local Scottish and Irish population around Cumbria, but it has been their transfers that have generated the most comment. The biggest coup was Adam Boyd, signed from League One Hartlepool. The former £500,000 striker played 36 times last season, scoring six goals, and turned down offers from higher clubs to move to Gillford Park.
Reports suggest Boyd, 30, will earn £500-£650 a week, with four-figure bonuses for goals and appearances, a huge sum for a club whose average attendance was 36 in their Division Two promotion campaign.
As well as Boyd, the addition of former Gateshead midfielder Martin Brittain, experienced ex-Darlington pair Paul Arnison and Graeme Lee and keeper Daniel Lawson suggest Celtic Nation are building a side capable of rising the divisions.
There are fans from further afield than the Northern League suspicious about the goings-on at Gillford Park. Little information has been disclosed about who is backing the club. Manager Steve Skinner has promised that more details will be revealed in the near future.
"With a couple of players that have signed, there are a lot of escalating stories. So I’m trying to get everything finalised so I can then let everyone know what has happened and the truth of the matter," he said, adding: "As soon as I say anything it escalates the story and I don’t want that to happen. We’re just a club who want to progress and do well."
Some sceptics suggest that Celtic Nation could even struggle to see out the season, while the forum Non-League Zone has been threatened with legal action regarding comments from users, leading the site's owners to warn that "future posts about the situation at Celtic Nation FC will be deleted without further notice". Until more is known about the club's backers, speculation will continue to grow. Drew Swainston