Let’s clear something up right away. Every summer Celtic know they may not reach the Champions League group stage. No matter how well they plan and recruit, they can come up against a better, or luckier, opponent. Champions League football might not happen in any given season, or the following season.
Celtic failed to reach the group stage of the Champions League five times in the last nine seasons. We might be getting better at qualification, but no one is making that assumption.
On 30 June last year, we had £24.5m in the bank. That figure should be higher on the same reporting date this year. We might not reach the Champions League group stage next season, but your football club has never been better prepared for a sporting reversal.
In a newspaper interview yesterday, Dave King compared Celtic’s current position with that of now-liquidated Rangers at the time Martin O’Neill came to Celtic. In O’Neill’s first season at Celtic, Rangers competed in the Champions League group stage before dropping to the Uefa Cup. But, on their 30 June 2001 reporting date, they had a bank balance of only £17,000. Not enough to buy a family hatchback.
Rangers were gambling every penny they could get their hands on without thought for the consequences of a reversal. It was a brutal period to be a Celtic fan, because although we were also losing money during at that time, the club was under siege from all sides for not ‘showing the ambition’ of the likes of David Murray and Dave King at Rangers.
Celtic know the perils of an over-dependence on Champions League revenues. We do not budget on having to qualify for the group stage each season, far from it. Our commercial sponsorship deals, retail and hotel plans, as well as player recruitment and development strategy, are all designed to mitigate an over-reliance on one source of income. A £24.5m bank balance is evidence of a club planning on long-term stability.
We know what we will do in any season they don’t qualify for the Champions League in order to give us the best chance to do so the following season. We know what to do to respond to any credible threat from another Scottish club for the domestic title.
We have experienced professionals in the boardroom and throughout all executive roles, and an actual billionaire who has put more money into Celtic than anyone has put into any Scottish football club – apart from the money the taxpayer wrote off due to the liquidation of Rangers while Dave King was paid to monitor and direct the club.
Celtic run scenarios on how things can go wrong. They know the limits of what King and Newco can achieve and believe the biggest threat to Celtic’s dominance is for the executive to make strategically bad moves. Rangers era of dominance was undone by financial recklessness, but in management terms, the problem was that the mechanisms did not exist to call the board to account on their gambling.
To combat this, Celtic have made sure that everyone at the club is challenged on their plans and performance, especially the chief executive. If there is a strategically bad move made at Celtic, which could threaten their dominance in Scotland, it will have to get through multiple layers of scrutiny and opposition. No one wants to be the next David Murray or Dave King.
Your football club might not be gamblers on the scale of Murray and King, but they are fiercely competitive and never want to lose another Scottish title. That is what we plan for, and that is the reality that Dave King cannot come to terms with.
£6m from a share issue – and he didn’t even commit to that amount, even if the Takeover Panel are quickly satisfied on the overdue share offer! And all that patter yesterday about delays in opening a bank account; why now transfer the money into your solicitor’s client account, like the rest of the world?
Why so many people put faith in this man “beggars belief”, to borrow a phrase. From his “glib and shameless liar” title to the years of evidence laid out in plain sight. You know how this story ends.
Ben Nevis Huddle is back!
After a three year gap, the Celtic fans will be back on Ben Nevis on mass on 30 June, to raise funds for your Foundation. This is a great chance to climb Britain’s highest in the company of dozens of other Celtic fans.
Participants are asked to raise (only) £130 for the Foundation. It is a great opportunity, see here for more details and to sign up.