Detail behind haunting words of Paul Murray


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. jude2005 is Neil Lennon \o/ on

    I went to the dentist years ago and he told me I needed 7 fillings I doubted that so didnt get it done. 25 years later I went back to the same guy and he told me I needed 3 fillings. I said go ahead at a cost of £93. After it was done he gave me £16 back as I didnt need as much done as he thot. That mask is for more than splash back protection imo.

  2. tomtheleedstim on

    Hrvatski Jim – that’s really good news if it’s true about the new season ticket applicants. I hope it’s not a retort to the huns jibe about us closing the stand.

  3. macjay1 for Neil Lennon on



    Either the Scottish media have got to start reporting the truth about some of the extremes of the independence movement or not, but it’s about time they did.



    Scottish media and truth ?


    Naive or what?

  4. hebcelt, I’m organising a wee night out for my mates also so to keep in the centre we may go to the Auctioneers* which is spacey and sells a good selection of beers.



    *may be a hun shop!



    Also suspect the game will be on in the Merchant Sq, they normally show the high profile games.




  5. Paul67 and others.



    “New clubs cannot qualify in European competition until after they have completed three years trading (a minimum of four years without Europe).”



    This is true but it gives me an opportunity to clarify why it is so using a post that I made late last night.



    Warning to readers, its rules stuff, so scroll on by if that is not your interest, but if you are interested in why Rangers are a new club who could not have played in Europe for three years even if they had been voted into the SPL and had no unpaid tax and had audited accounts, have a swatch.



    Saint Stivs


    19:20 on


    16 May, 2013



    Ignoring the fact they are a new club and dont have 3 years accounts,


    if rangers had reached the cup final, and qualified for a european space, would they get the co-efficient points of Rangers oldco …………


    EM NAW.


    someone ask clyde for me, i couldnt without losing the rag.





    The requirement for 3 years accounts is not actually the UEFA rule. The UEFA rule states:



    A licence applicant may only be a football club, i.e. a legal entity fully responsible for a football team participating in national and international competitions which either:


    a) is a registered member of a UEFA member association and/or its affiliated league (hereinafter: registered member); or


    b) has a contractual relationship with a registered member (hereinafter: football company).


    2 The membership and the contractual relationship (if any) must have lasted – at the start of the licence season – for at least three consecutive years. Any alteration to the club’s legal form or company structure (including, for example, changing its headquarters, name or club colours, or transferring stakeholdings


    between different clubs) during this period in order to facilitate its qualification on sporting merit and/or its receipt of a licence to the detriment of the integrity of a competition is deemed as an interruption of membership or contractual relationship (if any) within the meaning of this provision.



    From this it is quite clear that UEFA, had The Rangers been put forward for a UEFA competition, would have said NO because a change to Rangers legal form and company structure had clearly taken place and the SFA had not put forward a well founded case to grant an exception (as a further rule allows to cover unusual case by case circumstances).



    The SFA decided there was no point making any exemption case because there was also the matter of the lack of audited account and unpaid social tax (which is a one year exclusion if dealt with) and that was given by them as the reason why Rangers would not be granted a UEFA licence NOT that The Rangers also failed the above UEFA rule that covers restructuring that impacts the integrity of their competition



    UEFA’s default position is that a club that changes its corporate structure has had its association membership broken as far as qualification for UEFA competition goes unless it can be shown that it does not impact on the integrity of their competition. The last thing the SFA considered in the 5 way agreement was the integrity of their own competition and in that sense were in breach of the principle the UEFA rule stood for.



    The unpaid tax/unaudited accounts was a convenient way of avoiding the risk of UEFA saying they did not recognise The Rangers as the same legal entity which allowed the SFA to obsfuscate on the issue and bargain with Charles Green.



    From the SFA approach it can be deduced that someone at the SFA who knew the rules had decided they could not make a case for The Rangers being the same legal entity and it suited SFA marketing and bargaining purposes not to bring this out at the time the UEFA question was being asked when they were being sold.




    I must confess to being unaware of the SFA’s approach until recently but under the above 3 year history of association membership rule The Rangers are a different legal entity and so different club from Rangers and only UEFA can change that distinction, but only if the SFA make/made a well founded case.



    Rangers supporters will say, quite rightly, that the SFA are treating them as the same members and so they are the same club, but not in accordance with the principles clearly defined and circumstances catered for by UEFA rules.



    UEFA are probably aware of this but have bowed to the SFA’s desire to keep the waters muddied for commercial reasons and/or Rangers having friends at UEFA.



    The interesting thing is that everyone including the media and indeed Rangers talks of a three year exclusion from Europe but on the grounds you stated i.e 3 years accounts required. This is not so, 3 years unbrokem association membership is the requirement THEN audited accounts/ paid taxes etc are required ANNUALLY to get a UEFA licence.



    It would have been very interesting, had The Rangers been voted back into the SPL and gained a qualifying league position the next season and produced audited accounts during it, to see if the SFA having put them forward, would UEFA have said no to a licence. Given the nature of the debt in social taxes form that had been dodged by the restructuring I think it safe to say UEFA would have said NO as The Rangers did not have three years association history under the above rule meaning they were a different club.



    Like many others, including yourself, I thought it was the inability to produce 3 years of accounts that was the reason, but on digging deeper to refute a case being made on Paul McConville’s blog it became clear the issue was they were not a legal entity that UEFA recognised with the requisite 3 year national association membership.



    But as long as the SFA and LNS ignore the football authority of UEFA who have also turned a blind eye to the principle behind their rule being broken. you will be unable to change the minds of those who cling to the myth.



    The principle btw is to stop clubs doing EXACTLY what Rangers did i.e use insolvency rules to dodge responsibilities and debt, then being given access to UEFA competition and by so doing damage the integrity of the competition.



    It is a sad indictment of football authority at SFA level that they were prepared to sacrifice sporting integrity on the altar of commercialism ,but also an indictment of UEFA that they have not pronounced disagreement with the SFA position.

  6. Read Leggo’s blog this morning, and he is pining for King to buy everybody out, and restore them to their glory days.



    Was King no a director of the deed huns ?



    If he was, I thought that the rules….I know… prevented him from coming back.

  7. Nicky Clark is a belter.



    “You look at all the international players Rangers have in their squad, like Dean Shiels, Ian Black and Andy Little, and working with guys like that will only improve me because I will have to be at my maximum in every training session.”

  8. tomtheleedstim @ 13:15



    I’m hearing there’s some exciting news re the Kerrydale Suite rather than a closing of the stand and I really hope it comes to fruition.



    Some on here won’t be pleased though!!!








    That’s great news, the more the merrier at Celtic Park next season. We, the support are better together. I renewed mine’s and the youngest son’s on-line this morning.


    I hope the club are rewarded by a significant increase in season ticket holders.

  10. Paul



    Interesting article as always.



    Have Celtic ever published such a “current year spend” forecast?


    It would be interesting to see how the figures compare for each of the categories mentioned.



    I guess CQN has transformed me into one of those people that like to see the old financial spreadsheet – smarter than the average bear, so to speak



  11. Very interesting reading Paul. A very scary set of figures for a lower league team.



    One figure stood out for me, although I presume it was a typo. “They spent £160k on finance salaries and £176 on press office salaries while ticket operation salaries cost £268k.”



    I was presuming it really was £176 on press office as the MSM does all that work for them for free!!



    Hee hee. It’s obviously Friday afternoon and the sun’s out.

  12. Auldheid



    Thanks for that.



    So if they survive this latest little problem, it will be full steam ahead to get them into europe.



    I can see the honest mistakes reaching heights never thought possible.

  13. macjay1 for Neil Lennon



    13:05 on 17 May, 2013



    You know me, I’m neither Left or Right, strictly Biblical, and Bada Bing is verging on the Genesis 6 story.



    When was the word Dinosaur added to the lexicon?






    I hope yer huvin a Great weekend down under m8ty.

  14. A Ceiler Gonof Rust on

    Theres a thread running on nazimedia called Rangers and the Sectarian Myth. The OP is attempting to dispel this “myth” and is using Jon Daly as a vehicle to do so. Here’s a line from that post. No laughing or giggling now!!



    “Rangers have had players of all denominations and religions at Ibrox, from Jews to Muslims and Protestants to Catholics; Rangers have proven themselves to be a very inclusive club when it comes to signing players.”



    Lets see what happens when this guy takes to the field of play at the victorian lavvy (if he ever does). Would he be allowed to bless himself, and if he was to what would the reaction be?



    Maybe the OP simply missed the S from the beginning of the word myth.



    Incidentally the original thread and poll about Jon Daly has been deleted from there because of the sectarian abuse that was being posted.



    13:02 on


    17 May, 2013


    Does their three year ban from europe start from their inception, or three years of accounts ?




    Based on my previous post it would be from the date they were granted SFA membership after “restructuring”. So if it was say Aug 2012 and they entered the top tier league in August 2015 after successive promotions, it would be 2016 before they might qualify to be put forward to UEFA for approval. They would have been members of the SFA for 4 years by then so the 3 year rule would not apply.



    If they qualified via the Cup the earliest they could be allowed in is season 2015/2016, although there are rules for an exception that might be pursued by the SFA if a cup qualification came sooner.

  16. awsomeauldshilale on

    Sorry troops missed the date.


    As i made my way up to St Pauls pitches in Tollcross,at the tender know it all age of 14,today was going to be my day of days. I was to sign for the under 15,s after the game,and now full in the knowledge that local lovely Nancy was as besotted with me as i was with her( so my best mate told me), I swaggered up the road. Nancy was the daughter of one of the guys that ran the pitches, i walked over to her and blurted out some pubescent drivel…she didnt know i existed and proceeded to explain to me all the ways in which i didnt exist. Strike 1 As i got ready to play,reeling from the aforementioned rebuff,i was informed that i was dropped for the day Strike 2. At that age i was a big lump of a boy,evidently my size had overtaken my skill level,as i was told i wouldnt be signing for the under 15,s. Strike 3. As I wandered away in a state of shock,i noticed there was a game on ,on one of the other pitches,i walked over and in a daze and watched, it was between Eastergraigs and Celtic boys club under 15,s as i watched, this skinny boy with a shock of the reddest hair i had ever seen stuck out like a sore thumb,hair aside ,he ran the whole show,i hadnt seen the kick off so i couldnt really tell where he was supposed to be playing as he was everywhere. I ranted about this guy to anyone who would listen for weeks afterwards. He turned up in the Hoops some 4 yrs later in the shape of the bold Tommy Burns and the rest is history. God bless him and his. back to the lurk

  17. macjay1 for Neil Lennon


    12:46 on


    17 May, 2013




    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!







    Your public need you.





    My hunch is that he actually was Mrs T.

  18. tomtheleedstim on

    Pod I – pre match boozer for 700? Works for me.



    RobertTressell – hehehe.

  19. RobertTressell


    13:39 on


    17 May, 2013



    It’s true. The reason she famously slept so little is because her mind was in turmoil at being a Right Good Tim but also The Iron Lady.

  20. Having read the article I’m surprised that there is any concern about them accessing european fitba. Accessing a 5-a-side league where the players pay their own dues could yet be beyond them.



    They are done, gone, kaput, kerplunk, dead, muerte, ceased to be, finito, ended, over and out……….



    The only thing we have to worry about is if the body can take too many endorphins from all the laughter or if the happy hormone is something we can’t get enough of.

  21. hoopeddreams on




    Great First post. Welcome.



    ps Are you now or have you ever been a hun? :)

  22. sixtaeseven


    13:29 on


    17 May, 2013




    If you are a spreadsheet geek have a look at an illustrative business case for the next 5 and next 8 years for The Rangers at






    It is based on figures in the public domain from their Interim accounts, IPO and past accounts. It has caught the interest of some soo side supporters who thought it was not too far out coming from a Tim. Yup their are realistic guys over there very concerned at their situation.



    The latest from Jackson suggests that the £12,840,350 bottom line left for this season might be between £2,840,350 and £4,840,350 overstated putting them much further into the red next season and thereafter than shown for subsequent years.

  23. squire danaher on

    jc2 – NO



    Re George Sq area pubs



    Auctioneers is a Hun hole. We usually make our way to CP by train from Queen St to bellgrove and used to watch the dead club lunchtime matches on TV before hand



    Never seen so many fat trainer-wearing shaven-headed tattooed Granda-Ned Neanderthals in the one place.

  24. Charlotte seems to have gone off in a flounce, AT appears to have been silenced, Phil is only repeating what our own Paul67 is telling us and O.G. is nowhere to be found. I need my fix, new info please, anyone.

  25. Celtic_First on




    I read your post on European qualification last night and found it helpful.



    The whole Sevco shebang is, in essence, Rangers people (directors, coaches, fans, so-called journalists, so-called football administrators) chasing around pretending nothing bad has happened to them.



    Lots of people will have asked UEFA the same questions as you have contemplated here. It seems clear that the answer is as you have intimated here, a negative one from a Sevco point of view. The only concession from UEFA has been not to unmuddy the waters by making its position public. I agree that’s frustrating.



    If you look at it logically, were UEFA’s position even remotely supportive of the Sevco claims, we would know because we would never hear the end of it. We have not heard the start of it because Sevco people have not received the answer they want.



    Secondly, we know that what happened to Rangers has resonated at UEFA. UEFA general secretary, Gianni Infantino, gave a few interviews at the start of 2013 when Man City, Chelsea, PSG and a few others began to realise what financial fair play will, or should, mean for them.



    All the talk was about those, big rich-man’s-toy clubs, but in his comments, Gianni Infantino, unbidden, referenced the deady bears. He said: “It [financial fair play] is healthy and much more sustainable than someone coming in, promising a lot and then the next day the club is bankrupt. Look at the situation with Rangers.”



    Everybody knows.

  26. AoW



    Good thanks.



    I was going to say a spinal injury, but saw at the end it’s a brain injury.



    One of my dogs has a problem, when he was a pup, he was nearly killed by one of the other dogs, anyways, he now walks and runs like a prancing horse due to his neck being nearly broken.

  27. weeminger



    I can’t remember who said it, but on being told that thatch didn’t sleep much, the reply was



    “Well, if you had done to the country what she has, could you sleep at nights?”

  28. macjay1 for Neil Lennon on



    13:39 on 17 May, 2013



    Couldn`t give a monkey`s about his politics.


    How`s my fellow Tim?

  29. Celtic_First on

    Take that.





    NL if Hearts were to be relegated: “Would be losing the 3rd biggest club, have already lost the 2nd biggest – so it doesn’t look good.”



  30. squire danaher



    13:49 on 17 May, 2013


    jc2 – NO



    Re George Sq area pubs



    Auctioneers is a Hun hole. We usually make our way to CP by train from Queen St to bellgrove and used to watch the dead club lunchtime matches on TV before hand



    Never seen so many fat trainer-wearing shaven-headed tattooed Granda-Ned Neanderthals in the one place.




    Obviously Squire, you’ve never been on paisley rd when they have a home game.

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