By Alex Stevens
Celtic will take on European big guns Barcelona, Inter Milan and Leicester in a money-spinning pre-season tournament this summer.
The Scottish giants will face Lionel Messi and company in the prestigious International Champions Cup in Dublin at the Aviva Stadium on 30 July.
A week previously Celtic will host English Premier League leaders Leicester at Celtic Park on 23 July.
Ronny Deila’s side will then round off the bumper tournament by playing Inter Milan on August 13, marking the 50th anniversary of their 1967 European triumph over the Italian giants.
The full fixture list was announced in New York on Tuesday, with a Celtic delegation in attendance.
The lucrative tournament is run by US company Relevent Sports and is the brainchild of billionaire Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross.
He was also the man behind the recent European Super League talks with English football’s self-nominated ‘Big Five’ of Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United at London’s Dorchester Hotel.
Celtic will rake in significant cash, which will be a boost to Deila’s summer transfer kitty, and also benefit from valuable exposure overseas.
Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell said: “We are delighted to be invited to take part in such a unique and prestigious international tournament and join together with the other great names in world football in what we know will be a fantastic sporting occasion.
“Celtic is proud to enjoy its own global profile and we are sure our involvement with the biggest names in the game will only increase interest in the club on a global stage.
— Celtic Football Club (@celticfc) March 22, 2016
“It is magnificent news that our supporters in Scotland and Ireland will be able to enjoy such exciting matches and we are sure our participation will be warmly welcomed by our fans who will look forward to Celtic meeting such a high calibre of opposition in Barcelona, Inter Milan and Leicester City.”
The one downside is that it will lead to a hectic summer schedule.
Any Champions League campaign would begin on July 12/13 and the club could face four consecutive midweek ties.
There is then a break between August 3 and August 16 with the domestic season starting on August 6. Celtic, though, would have the option of postponing one of their league fixtures.