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Detail behind haunting words of Paul Murray

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You and I have been discussing football finances here since 2004.  In our early years Celtic lost several million pounds each year, CQN’s call was ‘we must breakeven over any business cycle’, an incredibly controversial view in those times of indulgent bling.

By 2004 Celtic hadn’t added a player who held down a sustained first team place for three years (since John Hartson in 2001).  We also lost a talisman that summer.  The pressure was on to spend, from the stands and the dug-out, but Brian Quinn, our chairman, had concerns about running at a permanent loss.  In the face of considerable criticism from the bling-brigade he stood firm.

Celtic won three of the next four league titles while reaching new territory in the Champions League as others continued to spent beyond their means and exploit unconventional taxation policies, which ultimately saw them liquidated, but while the end game was predictable, most didn’t predict it.  This resulted in strife at our club.

Finance was a focus of CQN in the early years when we produced granular analysis of accounts and budgetary forecasting.  As we became less of a basket-case the time spent debating money reduced.

We can all talk about strikers and defending, policing and political influences, good corporate governance and the SFA, but if you scratch below the surface of those with many years of CQN behind them, I suspect you’ll find people who can’t resist a football club’s cost and revenue breakdown spreadsheet….

The document which appeared on the internet yesterday on a former football club [let’s call them ExCo] was a joy.  To me, anyway.  It provided many small details which add up to one or two enormous conclusions.

ExCo forecast current year spend for 2011-12 on cleaning costs to be £380k, electricity at £455k, insurance at £374k, postage and carriage at £146k, IT at £261k, professional fees at £613k and telephone costs at £149k.  Stewarding was £593k, policing, £343k, match day ambulance, £89k.  They spent £160k on finance salaries and £176 on press office salaries while ticket operation salaries cost £268k.  The list is exhaustive, 10 pages of costs detailed.

Operating costs, before items like our old friend, amortisation, and tax (don’t laugh), were predicted to come in just shy of £37m, but the key message in all of this detail, is that if you want to operate a football club which can accommodate circa 40,000 spectators you need an infrastructure which costs around £20m.

The police, building maintenance, insurances, grass seed and everything else has to be budgeted for before you can look at player wages, not to mention transfer fees.  £268k might sound like a lot to pay for ticket office staff but if you need to issue tens of thousands of tickets you need fulfilment staff.  All those assets: enormous properties, thousands of fans, blanket media attention, can feel like liabilities to the guy with the responsibility to pay for them.

On reading this the overwhelming memory I had was of former Rangers director, Paul Murray, who a year ago told the world that Newco Rangers would not be viable, and he was hoping a Newco would have SPL football back then.  New clubs cannot qualify in European competition until after they have completed three years trading (a minimum of four years without Europe).

With no European revenue for four years, Newco would be unable to pay all those ‘fixed’ costs and put a competitive team on the field.  A big club can’t survive trapped in a small league with no European revenue.

This is reality.  Scotland has one healthy large club and has a dozen or more potentially healthy small ones, but nothing will ever be the same again.

Thanks to everyone who has bought Willie Wallace autobiography.  Orders in from Belfast, Blackpool, Bonnybridge, Burntisland and Blackrock.  If you order now you will receive a copy signed by the man himself….

Email me if you have an article for CQN Magazine inside of you waiting to get out; celticquicknews@gmail.com.


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  1. Just stepped out the ticket office having re-newed my boys ST, Och after an 8 year absence I bought myself one. Think I’ll go and have a beer noo.

     

     

    Ayrshire is green and white..

     

     

    HH

  2. ArranmoreBhoyLXV11 on

    HH

     

     

    I notice too , the haste with which the SMSM are getting the full Hearts story .. Even asking questions ..

     

     

    The Govan MSM must be trained differently …

  3. I think that we should all be eternally grateful that we had Brian Quinn at the helm and leading the club in a fit and proper way.

     

    I shudder to think what the alternative would have been if we had others in charge.

     

    Can you all imagine a life without Celtic Football Club.

     

     

    Hail Hail Brian Quinn and others.

     

     

    KTF

     

     

    HH

  4. Celtic_First,

     

     

    They can only field two trialists in a game – so they could in theory field six different trialists over three games.

     

     

    And they can sign free agents after the transfer window – and the ban on registering players – ends on 1 September.

     

     

    But they cannot transfer a player in from another club until January.

  5. macjay1 for Neil Lennon on

    tomtheleedstim

     

    12:32 on 17 May, 2013

     

    Philvis – if you’re lurking are you coming out to play? The blog is poorer for your absence – even the Tory stuff. I hope you’re just sulking over the Thatcher reaction rather than it being anything serious!

     

    HH.

     

     

    Philvis

     

    Your public need you.

  6. Blantyretim thanks for these two also got Roderick Dubh just down from the Admiral,would like somewhre in Merchant City/GeorgeSquare area.Hail Hail Hebcelt

  7. From Garngad to Croy I am Neil Lennon. on

    Gordon J

     

     

    The 31st of August falls on a Saturday this year. Could the plan be for the SFA to close the transfer window at 5.00pm Monday 2nd of September thus giving the Newco a chance to sign lots more players ?

     

    I expect this was discussed before signing the 5-way-agreement and issuing a specific ban date prior to the 1st of September!

  8. macjay1 for Neil Lennon

     

     

    12:46 on 17 May, 2013

     

     

    tomtheleedstim

     

    12:32 on 17 May, 2013

     

    Philvis – if you’re lurking are you coming out to play? The blog is poorer for your absence – even the Tory stuff. I hope you’re just sulking over the Thatcher reaction rather than it being anything serious!

     

    HH.

     

     

    Philvis

     

    Your public need you.

     

    ___________________________________________________________________

     

     

    All this acclaim is likely to put off the Turok Dinosaur hunter.

  9. Gordon_J backing Neil Lennon

     

    12:41 on

     

    17 May, 2013

     

     

    The fact they are forensically studying the detail of the rules of their embargo to find ways of getting players in and playing before when the spirit of the embargo intends for them to be allowed to sign players again (1st January2014) tells you all you need to know how totally incompetent the pieman and his two sidekicks are. With the wage budget and players available just now they should have Div 2 won by the end of the year.

  10. From Garngad to Croy I am Neil Lennon,

     

     

    I like your thinking …. could well be correct.

     

     

    It would depend on the exact wording of the agreement they signed … whether it specified the date or said that the ban lasted until the window closed.

  11. jude2005 is Neil Lennon \o/ on

    Glad am no going to the KSC club in Blantyre the night. Sumdaze going to be unbare-able!!! <:o(

  12. Gordon_J –

     

     

    sent you a message on the ole Facebook thing…

     

     

    Cheers!

     

     

    Jobo

  13. We can all talk about strikers and defending, policing and political influences, good corporate governance and the SFA, but if you scratch below the surface of those with many years of CQN behind them, I suspect you’ll find people who can’t resist a football club’s cost and revenue breakdown spreadsheet….

     

     

    totally agree. I think alot of the discussion around the death of Rangers would have happened if it was any other club.

     

    I have found myself reading alot of broadsheet newspapers when they are talking finance rather than reading the back pages.

     

    Rugby league clubs, Portsmouth, the bills outstanding at Barca / Real and the other clubs in spain, the list goes on and now how the clubs are trying to get round the spend what you earn rules. Its great, often better than reading some blue nosed Jurno talk rubbish about my club.

  14. Hrvatski Jim on

    Celtic now seem to be announcing that Jock Stein Upper Stand season ticket holders who were asked to relocate can now chose to stay in their original seats.

     

     

    http://www.celticfc.net/newsstory?item=4045

     

     

    This affects me and I am pleased if I can keep my seat – second row from the back, out of the wind and rain

     

     

    This is stated as due to increased demand.

  15. September 2nd is a bank holiday this year. And my birthday. Plot could thicken further!

  16. jude2005 is Neil Lennon \o/ on

    How to get around the transfer ban? Ask some the “experts” on SSB tonight.

  17. A Ceiler Gonof Rust on

    Paul67, I would really like to see a list of current creditors that would be an interesting read. I mean, how do they actually go about securing lines of credit?

     

     

    Ring ring….ring ring……..”Eh hullo hullo Mr Azure Support Services, Macclesfield, I’m Mr sevco 5088. My predecessor utilised your services a couple of years back and I’d like to do the same”.

     

     

    “Aye I know we ripped you off to the tune of £523,949.71 the last time but take my word for it, that will not be happening again”.

     

     

    “Eff off”……..Click.

  18. This is from the Scottish sports writer of the year:

     

     

    “This could be an attempt to smoke out other more wealthy or reputable Rangers fans – men like Dave King or Jim McCall.”

     

    Dave King and reputable in the same sentence, dearie me Keith.

  19. !!Bada Bing!! on

    Keith Jackhun saying on Talksport , Sevco have £8m left in the bank , what happened to the other £14m in such a short space of time ?

  20. Hrvatski Jim on

    Does anyone know how much investment we are committing to the Celtic Triangle development?

     

     

    I have seen plans but not budgets.

  21. jude2005 is Neil Lennon \o/ on

    ttls

     

     

    Its a ATM when you open your mouth to them. Hope you paid by credit card as this will protect you if anything goes wrong.

  22. Dontbrattbakkinanger on

    ‘postage and carriage 146k’

     

     

    – those ole beggin’ letters don’t send themselves, you kno

  23. Bada Bing – and the share issue money was supposed to be used for investment and expansion strategies, rather than running costs.

     

     

    The only expansion I can see is on the manager’s waistline.

  24. Paul67

     

     

    So in short they need to give up their costly “assets” to survive in a downsized form? When will the pennies drop at Ibrox, the SFA and wherever the media work that those days and ways have gone?

     

     

    It would seem that the best thing for the potentiall healthy surviving clubs would be Celtic moving somewhere else if that can be managed, to produce a competitive healthy league for those who remain. Either that or move the top lot, lock stock and barrel to become Swansea and Cardiff equivalents.

     

     

    I’ve another more pedantic point for genearl clarification on getting permission to play in Europe that I’ll post next

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