I followed Celtic’s accounts since Fergus took over and started posting them out to us. Around the same time I began following those of David Murray’s MIH and Rangers, the fortunes of each, and ultimately of the rest of Scottish football, were intertwined.
Fergus ran a stable ship, but things kicked off when Dermot Desmond replaced him as Celtic’s largest shareholder. In Dermot’s first season in charge, excesses were lavished with England and Liverpool legendary player, John Barnes, in charge. That didn’t work out but the next season, with Martin O’Neill in charge, spending took off in a fashion never before seen at Celtic. A treble arrived, but the financial losses were eye-watering.
The trouble was, we had all gotten used to this new level of spending. Dermot was applauded (by some) for matching the “ambition” of David Murray, so much so, that finding a route back to sanity was always going to be a challenge.
Then came the Seville season. Celtic Park was packed out for European fixtures until April, while domestic games were also a sell-out. The commercial team did a deal with shirt sponsor NTL to have the new season’s strip launched early. It looked like every able bodied person in Scotland had purchased the new Celtic strip.
That summer I waited for the accounts to drop. This document would reveal our true potential. The first sign of trouble was an email, “Alert for Celtic PLC Final Results”, on the afternoon of a Champions League qualifier. I anticipated good news story, but good news would surely be stage managed better than to slip out on the afternoon of a game?
The document revealed we lost £7m, despite Stuttgart, Celta, Liverpool, Boavista, Blackburn and Siduva. Despite all those shirt sales. We beat MTK comfortably, lots of people were happy, but I knew why these accounts were released on a match day; Celtic were living beyond their means and that could not go on forever.
OK, so we released accounts on a game day, giving the news cycle four hours to digest and report before Henrik and Co. moved the story on. On Wednesday, Newco didn’t press the publish button until they were a goal up against Kilmarnock! This could be the work of Charles Foster Kane.
Within a minute, karma struck. Kilmarnock equalised, Xanadu lost.
You will know the detail by now. On a turnover of £32.6m, Newco lost £14.3m, this, coming years after comments such as: “just about breakeven” soothed the masses.
The accounts themselves are horrible, but, of course, now historic. Income for this season will rise with Europa League qualification, while costs associated with the recruitment necessary to propel the club to fourth in the league will also rise significantly.
The question is, if you act like Citizen Kane, do you follow the same trajectory?
Really looking forward to Hearts tomorrow. After the week they have had, a bit of karma must be coming their way.
Celtic Supporters’ Association
Annual Memorial Mass
for all Celtic Supporters & Their Families
Tomorrow at 12.30 the annual memorial Mass for ALL Celtic supporters and families is held at St Michael’s, 1350 Gallowgate, a short walk from the stadium. A time for us to remember those who passed on the club over the last 130 years. There will be tea and coffee in the hall for you before you head to the game.