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. macjay1 for Neil Lennon



    13:51 on 17 May, 2013



    Thank You.



    The evidence is everywhere of the Great Deception comin.



    I know you will take the comments in Great Faith.



    God Bless yer fine person and all that know ye.

  2. O.G. Tick Tock is all very well, but I am suffering withdrawal symptoms here, I NEED a rumour even a hint to keep me going for the afternoon.

  3. The Spirit of Arthur Lee on

    Celtic Football Club‏@celticfc4m


    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.”

  4. pabloh_AKA_NEIL LENNON on

    Outstanding from NFL. He knows how to rub salt into their wounds.

  5. Oldco/Newco/Whateverco and football finances?!



    Oxymoron, along the lines of ‘a handsome hun’.




  6. RalphWaldoEllison remembers ALS victims Jimmy Jonstone & John Cushley on




    Thanks as usual for making sense of the leaked papers.



    Fine, understated comment about the feeling on the board.






    Thanks for your own forensic explanation of the Uefa/SFA 3 year entanglement.



    Making sense of stuff that appears to defy logical explanation.








    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!









    While I agree that the blog is more fun when the token tory is putting us plebs back in our rightful place,I doubt he is in the huff.



    Apart from being above such things of course,he did mention recently that he was a tad busy.



    No reason to disbelieve that-I was looking forward to meeting him at the POTY do,but no joy.



    Not a sign did I see of a ginger toff wi a top hat n tails,cigarette holder and a minion.



    Pity really…..

  8. Is the quiz on tonight?



    I need to know so I can do some revision!




  9. Neil canamalar Lennon hunskelper extrordinaire on

    It seems I have been sleepwalking into Qatar and working


    Just been informed that my visa is being held up until I produce my old visa number


    Telling them I have never been here before doesn’t seem to wash.


    They are now getting in touch with the CID for clarification.


    I wonder if I am leading a double life and not telling myself

  10. The Spirit of Arthur Lee



    14:02 on 17 May, 2013



    Celtic Football Club‏@celticfc4m


    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.”





    Neil – Just Win the Scottish Cup, and dae it with style.

  11. macjay1 for Neil Lennon on



    14:07 on 17 May, 2013





    ” token tory ?”


    Silent majority.


    Who`s pulling the strings?

  12. macjay1 for Neil Lennon


    13:57 on


    17 May, 2013




    13:39 on 17 May, 2013



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


    How`s my fellow Tim?




    It was my idea of a joke Macjay…….



    And I’m fine if it’s me you’re asking. Couldn’t tell you about Philvis though. He’s probably just observing a respectable period of mourning.



    Hopefully the guy is Ok. We all go off line from time to time. especially me!

  13. Celtic_First on

    Neil canamalar Lennon hunskelper extrordinaire





    Good luck. That sounds like a real headache.

  14. Neil canamalar Lennon hunskelper extrordinaire on



    I wonder what I was working as, hopefully a better job than this, pizza delivery looks like a good profession, plenty of travel and meeting new people

  15. unionbearBhind on




    just scrolled back & noticed, no budget for transfers if they ever even got back to spl?

  16. ET- I knew you’d have an answer! My boy was asking me this morning and I didn’t have a clue.



    Thanks amigo.

  17. Aternoon,evening and morning all.



    MickTT,good to see you back….hope you’re not looking for cup final ticket :0)



    ghuys is the gemme oan the telly Sunday?

  18. Neil canamalar Lennon hunskelper extrordinaire on



    There is one wee advantage, once you get your visa you need official permission to leave the country, so until then I’m free to come and go as I please, the longer the delay the better IMO.

  19. O.G. is the timing for the revelation of these facts known yet?


    Its just I’m soon going to be in the pub, not likely to resurface until, well, an unkown time.

  20. macjay1 for Neil Lennon on




    14:12 on 17 May, 2013



    macjay1 for Neil Lennon


    13:57 on


    17 May, 2013




    13:39 on 17 May, 2013


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


    How`s my fellow Tim?



    Hopefully the guy is Ok. We all go off line from time to time. especially me!



    And your fellow Tims would express their concerns.


    As they should.


    Shoulder to shoulder.

  21. tallybhoy



    14:09 on 17 May, 2013


    Is the quiz on tonight?




    Tonight’s quiz is on rolls n sausage …….CRC will win nae bother.hh

  22. TinyTim 12:54



    Green seems like the sex-line type. Either that or it’s expensive phone calls to accountants and lawyers. Maybe long distance calls to low-cost accountants in India?

  23. vp



    Would that be ‘skwerr’ or ‘links’?!



    Personally I prefer ‘skwerr’ on a roll, and ‘links’ as part of a fry-up.




  24. From Bill McMurdo’s Weblog:



    “After turbulent times, the future is looking rosy at Ibrox, especially with the news that Malcolm Murray will be forced out after all the recent shenanigans”



    Hilarious suff from a deluded eejit.

  25. someone tell clyde tonight –



    We’re happy to now advise that, due to the incredible demand for new season tickets, we are delighted to be able to offer new options to some of those we had initially asked to relocate for next season.

  26. A Ceiler Gonof Rust on

    Auldheid at 13:47






    Interesting spreadsheet Auldheid, especially some of the figures in column H. E.g. does cell H 38 take into account that they might come up against Maribor again?



    The comment in G 36 is quite funny “season ticket price doubes”.





  27. GlassTwoThirdsFull on




    Always enjoyed the financial articles in the early days of CQN. Think that’s what got me attracted to the site – I could get all the “football” stuff elsewhere.



    Only two questions:


    1. What is amortisation?


    2. What happened to the Seville money?



    Only joking!

  28. Never mind which player is going where this close season!



    The potential managerial merry-go-round is making my head spin.



    Here in Italy they are talking of – possible – changes at Milan, Napoli, Inter, Udinese, Roma…






    Ancelotti to Real, Mourinho to Chelsea or Man City, Mancini to PSG/Monaco…




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