Communicating truth and shifting behaviour


Communicating the message is important.  It is not always sufficient, but if you are unable to communicate frankly, you are not going to make the right decisions for your business.

Nokia owned the mobile phone market in the first decade of this century.  Early on in that period, they sold over half the units bought on the world and by the end of the decade they still sold north of a third.  As they reflected on their 2010 performance, chief exec Stephen Elop, told employees the company was “a man standing on an oil platform in the North Sea and facing a raging fire on multiple fronts, who has no choice but to jump into freezing water to survive.”

Elop knew what the future had in store for his mobile phone business, as did the execs at Google, who were gaining round with Android, and at Apple, where the iPhone had already made an impact.  That North Sea platform analogy was lacking in taste, but Nokia needed a major change of direction and an analogy that cut through with people was necessary.

Unlike Nokia, Newco are not the leading player in their market, but they are also standing on a proverbial burning platform.  Instead of explaining this to their stakeholders, a different message was promoted with their annual accounts, “Profit”, we were told, although the word was qualified by “operational”.  “Loss” was the effective word used in the accounts, for those who can understand a P&L, although few news reports got that far.

Hearts were the same yesterday, proclaiming “season 2022/23 saw the club post a record turnover of £20.8m”.  This is correct and Hearts were able to report they have more money in the bank than their Glasgow cousins.

Fan comments after the news was almost universal: ‘spend more money’ but wait!  Hearts record turnover came because of Europa League qualification, which didn’t happen this year.  Even that was not enough to keep them out of the red, they relied on Donations of over £6m (30% of that turnover) to pay their bills.

Hearts have a shock coming in the post.  Income will fall away without the Europa League.  That £6m donations figure is made up of £1.6m from Foundation of Hearts members and £4.5m from other benefactors (believed to be James Anderson).

Call me cynical, but the Sugar Daddy thing is unwise.  Football fans cannot rely on a rich benefactor, the game is littered with morality tales.  They also cannot rely on donations from ordinary fans to hold up at the same levels as Edinburgh mortgage payments rise next year.

Stephen Elop ended his talk to staff by saying, “The burning platform, upon which the man found himself, caused the man to shift his behaviour, and take a bold and brave step into an uncertain future. He was able to tell his story. Now, we have a great opportunity to do the same.”

He was unable to reverse the decline of Nokia’s mobile phone business, but today they employ 92,000 people with a turnover of €23bn.  Shift behaviour, step into an uncertain future – that is the message which should be coming out of clubs living precariously close to the edge, not this ‘everything is great’ nonsense.

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  1. Why hello there Wednesday!



    Thanksgiving next week, no family here of course so heading to a cabin in the hills.



    Can hear the geese migrating outside, kind of freaking the dog out.

  2. Perhaps, assuming we have no suitable youth players to cover, we can take Shankland on loan for 6 months from January to help them offset loss of European footie in their next accounts :)




  3. On a day when disgraced Malky Mackay gets his jotters, a reminder of the poor level of coherent thinking amongst our clubs in Scotland…



    Poor managerial appointments – think Robson, Naismith, countless Hibs donkeys, Lennon and the swirling around of all the other ex-SPFL bosses, working for clubs without a coherent strategy to elevate themselves beyond perenial mediocrity.



    What’s the blueprint for Scotland to be the best it can be iover the next 10-15 years? How did Norway create its golden generation, etc and how can we learn from it.



    We seem destined to be holding back on pulling too far away from our domestic rivals across the city and frightened to take a punt on the European project.



    Malky will be back at the SFA in a few months sitting behind a desk wondering how you can scale some outdated concept…and selling it to some far off island in the pacific….



    Dinosaurs are us




  4. The Blogger Formerly Known As GM on

    Indeed, if you must look at a P&L remember.



    Revenue – Costs = Operating Profit



    Operating Profit – Interest Expense – Tax = Net Income



    Even net income is open to accounting tricks, gimmicks and manipulation, hence any P&L should be read with a in conjunction with the cash flow statement.



    Revenue is Vanity, Profit is Sanity and Cash is King 👍




    Cash is King, especially in football clubs.



    The Sevco statement of cash flows is a disaster for them.

  6. I see that clown Guidi agrees with me …Go on Celtic grab Shankland …before the tribute act do …sensible for various reasons 1.affordable (3-4 m ) 2.Scottish 3.proven goalscorer in Scottish league 4.A massive kick in the haw maws for the tribute act …seems like a relatively risk free option to me 🤔🍀

  7. As I have stated before there are shades of McCoist in him ..and I feel if we let him slip …he could go on to haunt us with the tribute act … cast your mind back to when McCoist was at Sunderland ..I remember a wee rumour we were interested ?…nothing happened and loook how that one turned out !?



    We seem destined to be holding back on pulling too far away from our domestic rivals across the city



    Celtic have won 11 of the last 12 Premiership titles. Rangers, since their inception in 2012 have won 1 title.



    In the same period, Celtic have won 5 trebles, including 7 Scottish Cups and 7 League Cups.



    Rangers have won a solitary Scottish Cup.



    So just how much further can Celtic pull away from Rangers without being in a higher division?



    Sorry to burst your Ibrox fantasy.

  9. Celtic star Gustaf Lagerbielke has been named Swedish league defender of the year after his form at Elfsborg.

  10. Lagerbielke was sent off for a second yellow card against Feyenoord and has been unable to regain his position in the team since.

  11. TOM MCLAUGHLIN on 15TH NOVEMBER 2023 1:00 PM



    Only a fool couldn’t see that our strategy is being joined at the hip with our forever bestie, for the sake of Sky, the SFA and sponsors. We looked lost when they weren’t around. They overspend to get near us, we underspend to keep them in range. They’re a basket case.



    At a time when we could have chosen to abandon that, modernised and looked to punching above our weight in Europe.




  12. lets all do the huddle on

    Who would win in a fight between Celtic fanatics and Celtic fantasists?





    and do the winners then go on to fight Celtic Superfans in the final who i assume got a bye in the semi because of their apparantly superior Celtiic-supporting credentials? 🤷🏻‍♂️

  13. bournesouprecipe on




    Has an injury, but was named in our Euro squad and played for Sweden, hasn’t been in the domestic squad since Motherwell.

  14. Back to Basics - Glass Half Full on

    Insightful and informative article Paul but, WADR, academic.



    Sevco should have jumped into the abyss in 2012 ….



    … but couldn’t bring themselves to do it right.



    Their core stakeholders (board and fans alike) have been hard wired with supremacism.



    Why would anyone jump off The World’s Most Successful Burning North Sea Oil Platform?

  15. bournesouprecipe on




    Nope that’s only the semi finals, the Celtic Uber Fans and the Celtic Da’s are in the other semi

  16. garygillespieshamstring on

    Shankland would need a lot of persuading to come to us.


    Relative of mine knows him and the family well and it seems move to Celtic wouldn’t go down well as he has eyes on ipox



    I would support an attempt but I’m unsure of how an approach would be received.

  17. Back to Basics - Glass Half Full on

    As for Hearts?



    Don’t know enough and don’t care enough although, from a distance, their numbers have always looked … er … “padded”.



    Our twitter friend in the US, JBluvsCeltic, did his usual decent job of crunching the numbers in the wee small hours …



    … But, in truth, when I read revenues went up by £6.2m and costs by £6.5m ?



    … I stopped reading.

  18. lets all do the huddle on

    Nope that’s only the semi finals, the Celtic Uber Fans and the Celtic Da’s are in the other semi




    The Celtic Da’s 😄



    The very mention of their name will strike fear into even the gamest of foe

  19. The returnof weeron on

    Interesting article, Paul.



    Before I get to Nokia, there is no downside in bidding for Shankland. If he, and hearts agree, then we’ll have a decent addition to the squad. If they don’t agree, we can keep bidding, forcing the other mob to pay way over the odds….



    Nokia. Their man chose his analogy poorly. Thanks for pointing that out, Paul. My brother was on the Piper Alpha, though thankfully not on that particular day.



    So, Nokia changed it’s approach and strategy and appears to be successful in the current era. I know very little about them. Have they changed Board, CEO, Chairman, Corporate objectives and targets? I ask this because I see little change in these aspects at Celtic Football Club.



    Dermott ditched any involvement in Ajax’s efforts towards an ‘Atlantic League’ model. He was quoted at the time as preferring to wait for an invite to the epl. Not exactly visionary. I’d presume that the epl that would invite us in would be the carcass left after the really ‘big’ english clubs join the ‘super league’.



    If we don’t take responsibility for our own future, others will.




  20. TOM MCLAUGHLIN on 15TH NOVEMBER 2023 1:00 PM




    A fine post, Tom but don`t hold high hopes of it changing the collective mind of those who firmly believe Celtic are desperately keen to `keep` Sevco strong rivals.


    If that is , indeed, The Board`s strategy, they are failing miserably.

  21. Take emotion and morality out of the equation.



    Would Celtic’s business model be better or worse without a form of the huns.




  22. HOT SMOKED on 15TH NOVEMBER 2023 3:23 PM





    The 5 way agreement and opposition to resolution 12 says you’re both full of sh*t.



    Our board need Sevco.




  23. The Blogger Formerly Known As GM on

    TBH 12.36 – D&A is included in the cost base. As you may know, it’s an accounting concept that is meant to reflect ‘wear and tear’ of a company’s asset base. It’s a ‘non-cash’ item that gets ‘added back’ to operating profit (amongst other things) in the cash flow statement.

  24. It’ll be interesting in the years ahead to see how many of their fans stand by them when fiscal sanity is enforced.

  25. lets all do the huddle on

    “…Lawwell & Desmond`s £49 ticket deceit…”





    this narrative didnt stand up when it first started getting posted on here and it still doesnt.



    there was no deceit. everyone knew what was going on.



    so if you wanted to pay 49 quid for a ticket then you have decided off your own back. you werent being deceived. you made your own choice either way and anyones reason for not paying it would also have been well understood.



    it also doesnt stand up because there were very few tickets like that available because we have 53000 season ticket holders plus sponsors, staff etc so lucky if there were 2 or 3 thousand for sale so im not sure where your point is aimed.



    thats not to say that it is right they charged that amount, we can argue that all we want. but they told folk how much it was before they bought it.



    if they charged 10 grand for them then it still wouldnt have been ‘deceit’.



    you obviously like the word ‘deceit’ maybe without fully understanding it.

  26. GREENPINATA on 15TH NOVEMBER 2023 3:36 PM


    Take emotion and morality out of the equation.




    Would Celtic’s business model be better or worse without a form of the huns.










    We seen it already under Ronny. Winning the league from Hearts and Aberdeen will not suffice without European progress – thus Ronny got chopped after winning two league titles



    We’d be forced to benchmark against competent rivals in Europe as even the most board friendly of Tim’s will struggle to claim beating hearts and getting spanked in Europe is good management of the Club.

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