Marlborough, Murray, Ideguchi


A little appreciated determinant of the rise and fatal fall of Rangers under Lawrence Marlborough and then David Murray was the effect of an inflating, then deflating market for player transfers.  Betting on an inflating asset was a guaranteed success and the bigger you bet, the more successful you became.  Celtic eventually tried to copy this strategy, but we were betting with smaller stakes than Rangers, seeing poorer returns and unable to draw level.

Rangers seemed unstoppable.  Celtic’s league win in 1998 was as unlikely as it was remarkable.  Everything went right for Celtic, including the arrival of the Great Swede and an early season postponement, but even then, the win was by the skin of our clenched teeth.

Rangers responded to that loss with the biggest spending splurge in Scottish football history.  Transfermarkt records a figure in excess of €40m, but they don’t have a fee for the new World Cup winner, Lionel Charbonnier, or Rod Wallace.

Their accounts for season 1998-99 were a classic of the genre.  They opened with a copy of the Centenary Certificate, recording 100 years since the club registered with Companies House.  The celebratory tone continued as David Murray discussed their treble win.

Turnover was £36.526m (a record), loss was £24.393m (also a record, but not for long).  That’s despite an amortisation charge for player registrations of only £12m, most of that €40m plus splurge had yet to hit the P&L.  Despite this, the board, the media, the fans, were unanimous in celebrating how clever David Murray was.  Some of us were muttering “Crash and burn” to anyone who would listen.

Within three years of those accounts being signed, ITV Digital, broadcast partner for the Football League, collapsed, causing the market for player transfer to dip.  At that moment, it was all over for Rangers, they hobbled on for another decade, but the writing was on the wall.

Anyway, why am I bothering you with this today?  For a start, it’s always an enjoyable story to tell (with many more chapters), but one thing bothered me during the rise of Rangers.  They were able to sign players that didn’t work out, sell and either get their money back, or make a profit.  Their mistakes, were profitable mistakes.

Also, Yosuke Ideguchi today left Celtic for Vissel Kobe.  Celtic made a small profit on a player who scarcely wore the strip.  He is clearly a better player than he was able to demonstrate in Scotland, who benefited from a successful loan period in a market able to spend money on him.

Keeping the ship financially afloat means constantly working to enhance the value of all your players, including those well out of the picture.  More of this, please.  And no, Companies House will not be sending a letter this year, congratulating Rangers on the 125th anniversary of their registration.  I’m sure you’ll remember, that outfit ended in liquidation in 2012.

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  1. GlassTwoThirdsFull on

    “I’m sure you’ll remember, that outfit ended in liquidation in 2012.”




    Yeah – they’re definitely not around anymore. Definitely not…….

  2. The same still applies as witnessed by the mess clubs face these days because of the collapse of the transfer market during the COVID seasons. The market has returned to the levels it was at before but the losses clubs who rely on transfer profit (most) remain on the balance sheets. Fail to allow for financial shocks in the future and expect more of the financial problems that did for Rangers



    You can insure against it to an extent – don’t buy players you intend to trade in future after their 25th birthday from whom there is no chance of making enough profit. Invest in numbers to spread the risk. Have a coherent development strategy that everyone buys into. Have a contingency fund for the years when one of your income streams dries up.



    Or forget about player trading and commit to a life without the income from it that all that brings.

  3. CELTIC40ME @ 12:29 PM,






    “…You can insure against it to an extent – don’t buy players you intend to trade in future after their 25th birthday from whom there is no chance of making enough profit. Invest in numbers to spread the risk. Have a coherent development strategy that everyone buys into. Have a contingency fund for the years when one of your income streams dries up.”






    Or forget about player trading and commit to a life without the income from it that all that brings.



    Well talk about being between a rock and a hard place!?



    Sounds to me like a nightmare scenario.



    If forced to make a choice, two has got to be the way to go…



    We have seen that getting a squad together and honing a successful team is the way to go in that regard.



    As BR Mk1 and Ange proved concentrating of building a successful team is key, this creates record value to your squad.



    Number one sounds like a recipe for disaster, however as both GG and JJ proved, you certainly can improve and make profits from players that are 25 y.o. and over.



    Please look at our current squad.



    This obsession with moneyball and age is proving disastrous for us.



    We are now in the situation where we can no longer bring in development players as our current squad and players on loan are teeming with an unmanageable amount of development players.



    Hail Hail

  4. My friends in Celtic,



    How things change.


    Celtic won the league against the odds in 1998.



    29 years earlier, again apparently against the odds we had the first ” Moon Landing ”



    Seemingly in 2024 ( 55 years later ) Man doesn’t seem to have the technology to repeat this.. The latest mission’s technology seems to have failed.



    ” Moon Landings ” have been a reoccurring theme on CQN as far back as I can remember, but it is always worth a mention when the latest cover up conspiracy theory ( Post Office ) is in the limelight.



    Can we believe anything the establishment tell us. ? No lazy journalism here.



    HH, the journey continues ( pun )




    Do you know if Newco get a certificate when they break the 100 mn revenue barrier!?






    Hail Hail

  6. Should anyone (who is not already a former shareholder or debenture holder) want an update on the former club, punch in; ‘BDO RFC Creditors Report 2023’


    That will bring you up to October 30 2023.




  7. The core business of McDonalds changed from selling hamburgers to acquiring real estate for franchise holders to pay rent on from their hamburger profit.



    Are Celtic in danger of swapping their core business for profit ie playing winning football for trading players developed to play good football with detrimental effect on winning football?



    If all that matters is what is good for the bottom line then anything goes.

  8. Why bother about Newco or Sevco or whatever they are called on here,To much emphasis on here about them rather than our Club ,We let them boardroom directors off the hook in a lot of things that are more important to the ordinary fan who put millions into the club every season,Fans on here should be make the board sit up a take note of the facilities that the ordinary fan has to put up with ,there should be more sports bars built inside and outside our stadium,absolutely atrocious on a wet and windy standing outside waiting on the gates to be open,so more talk on here about our rather than them over Ibrox way.

  9. Good article , Paul



    I recall clearly Murray boasting, for every pound Celtic spend, we will spend 10. Great words froma great con man




  10. Auldheid,



    Possibly our core business cannot be separated. Entertaining and winning football is what Celtic FC is all about.



    We must be looking at AI to guide our recruitment in the medium term and this revolutionary process will be programmed to source the best fit players to achieve our core aims. This will not come cheap and will cost us plenty. Luckily we already have the money in the online bank system.



    I just hope we don’t use the Horizon cloud based software.



    Additionally and very slightly off topic , I would not worry too much about referee selection. Foreign refeering is a ” red herring “. Within the next decade refeering in the top leagues will be completely officiated by AI..


    For all our sakes let’s hope Fujitsu communications are not in the equation.



    Or get used to singing ” Who’s the algorithm in the black”



    HH. The journey continues with AI.

  11. bournesouprecipe on




    Interesting article, but much harder for Tommy Burns et all, to take on Rainjurz than Brendan Rodgers to suppress our only rivals Sevco.



    I think Celtic stabilised for the winter break by winning that four game sequence, including the Parkhead Sevco game.



    Brendan Rodgers has done a great job with the players he has, but the divide between being a head coach and a Jock Stein type manager is wider than ever in terms of recruitment. That same growing divide, allegedly caused him to upsticks previously.



    We’ve made our bed we must lie in it, by the time the window opened the pure quality and quantity demand was muted. Ideguchi is just the first out, of the revolving Parkhead door.

  12. Go tell the Spartim on

    Cheap punts, in relative terms, is the go to strategy, is that the sum total of the top business men and women that run the plc.



    There might well be a strategy but I’m no convinced it’s in any way a slick operation.



    It’s run like a family business …… oh wait



    They seem to think it’s there money, that’s the elephant in the room

  13. CHAIRBHOY on 9TH JANUARY 2024 12:59 PM



    “This obsession with moneyball and age is proving disastrous for us.”



    Could you show the proof of disaster?

  14. I don’t understand…..


    I don’t understand…………strategy.



    I know nothing…….


    I know nothing about……fitba’.



    Winning Big European games seems good for morale, team and supporters, bank balance and reputation which helps attract good fitba’ players……



    Sumore o’ that please…..




  15. The main reason I want the Celts to win the league and the so called £60 M jackpot ..,is to stop them doing so !.. why ?.,because unlike our board they understand the psychology of fear ..and they WILL spend and invest and unlike our custodians they won’t give a feck if they leave us behind !!..wake up Lawwell 🤔

  16. theBHOYfromU.N.C.L.E on



    For every fiver Sevco spend, we’ll spend a yenner.






    Is that 10 Yen…..then.

  17. AULDHEID on 9TH JANUARY 2024 1:24 PM



    Celtic isnt run for profit, none of it ends up in the pockets of ordinary shareholders as dividends, theres no pressure to increase the value of the company.



    Its pretty basic and it’s pretty clear what the intentions are – profit from player trading is an absolute must if we are to bridge the financial gap between us and teams we play in Europe from leagues with higher revenues from TV. And teams who operate a successful trading model.



    It all follows on from that.



    Whether it works or not is a different argument but its the intention.




    Its funny that you should mention Celtic and core business



    I always thought our core business was winning trophies, it seems to play very little part in what is important for some people these days.



    Having a strategy that delivers the sort of success we’ve seen on the pitch is whats really important

  19. Also …our custodians know that if that if we do win it there is a real danger of 2012 all over again and the real possibility of another period of Tim dominance that could actually leave them behind …do you think Lawwell is not considering this ?…at this point of transfer inertia ? 🤔

  20. Thank goodness we have those tens of millions earning interest. We can all look forward to lifting the Balance Sheet Cup come May even if the Huns win this league and the £60 million cash prize that comes with it. Well done to the board. Can we develop Scales into a goal keeper or second striker ?

  21. CELTIC40ME @ 2:19 PM,



    Well, did you look at our current squad?



    For a start we have ten prospective first team players in the squad and we have ten prospective first team players on loan.



    That’s twenty players out of the forty man squad



    Several of the twenty remaining players are not to the requisite standard.



    How can that be an effective strategy for an elite Club?



    Hail Hail

  22. They sacrificed the 10 for that very reason …they won’t hesitate again …it’s all about the filthy lucre for Mr Machiavelli ( Lawwell ) 🤔

  23. AULDHEID @ 1:24 PM,






    Running a Football Club has nothing to do with profit.



    Yes, financial stability is hugely important, yes profit is an important indicator of financial stability.



    So it’s not irrelevant by any means, this obsession of maximising cash from our side hustle has all the hallmarks of putting the cart before the horse.



    We are seeing the dysfunction of Maslow’s Hammer at work here.



    Hail Hail




    I don’t think it’s as intriguing as core business strategy.



    It’s a classic power play. Deprive the manager of what he wants in the hope he walks come the summer.



    That’s what it looks like to me, right now.

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