No one in football likes losing. When it happens, no one likes accepting the reality that they will lose again. That’s football. You and I didn’t want to lose the league in 2021. Celtic were able to do something about it – within safe margins of risk and the law – and spent money to arrest the situation.
But what if safe margins of risk are not sufficient? Do you jeopardise the club, sail close to the wind legally, lean on the government and police to get what you want? We saw what happened when there was a power struggle at Newco, the police instigated what was eventually established as wrongful prosecutions, costing the taxpayer over £50m and counting. We still see the blind eye the Scottish Government is turning to this scandal.
In Italy, the poster child of maleficence is at it again. Juventus, who were relegated for match fixing in 2006, are back in trouble. Their board resigned last night with questions hanging over the club’s recent financial statements.
The Turin club won nine league titles in a row before losing out in 2021 (I know!). Instead of taking their medicine, they employed accounting practices which led to yesterday’s resignations. Whatever plans were put in place failed. Finances were already disastrous, the club made a loss of €254m last season, a figure that seems likely to be revised up.
Juventus are owned by the Agnelli family. Andrea Agnelli, who was chairman until yesterday, is the great grandson of Gianni Agnelli, founder of Fiat. His grandfather Edoardo bought the club in 1923 and made it one of Italy and Europe’s most successful. The family have been remarkably successful in industrial, commercial and political life in Italy. There is a great Sky documentary film on Gianni, “Agnelli”, worth catching.
Those of us who like our sport clean will celebrate yesterday’s news. We must always be on our guard against the corrupt, who twist and bend the laws.
Speaking of the law, as we predicted earlier, Sydney Super Cup promoters, TEG Live and Left Field Live, have filed papers against Newco for £1.6m compensation for their withdrawal from the competition. Newco, upset and humiliated that Celtic’s commercial team negotiated a package around twice as high as theirs, withdrew under fan pressure. This not only denied them a nice payday, but they will also have to face down a fresh legal challenge, so soon after settling with Sports Direct and with Elite Group administrators on their case.
Newco’s termination apparently cited the lack of the phrase “Old Firm” in promotions for a game against Celtic. Celtic and Newco jointly own commercial rights to the phrase, an agreement Celtic came to in order to give us a veto on its use. Celtic, as they always do, vetoed any use of the term. “Own it and kill it”, is the strategy.
You will still find some people who try to mislead fans that Celtic’s co-ownership here demonstrates the club’s affinity for the term. Know who you are dealing with whenever you read this.
Maybe pick up on Newco’s new manager “Mick” tomorrow. They could have done worse, not that we should be worried.