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. Go tell the Spartim on

    Do we ever do succession planning with this wonderful strategy we have that ensures we have the healthiest bank balance. It seems a scatter gun approach to finding gems and then selling them on regardless of position they fill. Will we see, next season a midfield of Calmac, Bernardo and Holm, once we’ve sold Matt and Reo, is that the example we’re hoping for?

  2. Note to Mr Lawwell …please go to the stadium in Lisbon …take a quiet moment of reflection breathe in the air , soak up the vibration , feel the presence of the ghosts and realise the burden that you carry and what CAN be achieved ..make it your road to Damascus ..and we all may feel the benefit …because this is a journey and road to redemption that every TRUE Celt should make …if able to do so 🍀🤔

  3. CHAIRBHOY on 9TH JANUARY 2024 2:44 PM



    That is not proof of disaster. The squad won their last Champions League game and sit top of the league after winning their last three games.



    We’ve won 5 trebles and a double in 7 seasons, hardly disastrous



    Success or failure is what happens on the pitch. The rest is detail

  4. CHAIRBHOY on 9TH JANUARY 2024 2:50 PM



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



    Thats you when you ignore our success and concentrate on the minor stuff.

  5. Go tell the Spartim on

    Simple question for all the PLC acolytes, do we have the best facilities, coaches, business people and of course squads (let’s not forget they cut the woman’s teams budget and let the manager walk) that we can afford?



    I note we’re trying to bridge the financial gap to europes big leagues, to do what exactly, we’re hoarding cash for a rainy day. We’ve no ambition to compete (it’s all relative, I’d settle for a knock out tie in one of the competitions) we don’t keep our better players long enough or bed new ones in soon enough to make an impact. We normally waited to see if we qualified for the champions league before buying anyone.



    As stated earlier, a family business who think it’s their money.

  6. Love Celtic fans….



    Detest those who are sleekitly trying to murder them…





    If smeared and jeered is the response for trying to alert good folk to stuff that others would prefer you would not know about…



    Media x 100% and some blind Tims who prefer not to see…



    Then maybe when its quiet would be a good time to find out for yourselves who is a goody and who is looking after their own ass and dismissing out of hand the “Comrades All…” spirit.



    If giving good guys a good kick up the ass saves them then good!



    But if these good guys would rather adhere to a childish clique mandate well…

  7. Paul 67et al,



    I would imagine we all know our history. Intriguing stuff from quarter of a century ago. But these days are past now, and in the past they must remain.



    But what about the now and the next quarter of a century.



    What do you think ? I have given my crystal ball views on AI in our game.




  8. It doesn’t matter what Peter Lawwell thinks, it really doesn’t! It’s only what DD thinks and what he wants implemented that counts, nothing else! por cierto.

  9. Prestonpans bhoys on

    Now this isn’t a surprise:



    Joey Barton has been warned he faces Government and legal action over his social media posts, the Sports Minister has confirmed.



    Stuart Andrews has announced that he will see what can be done about the former midfielder’s conduct, which involves a host of abusive messages about women in football. According to the Telegraph, one woman has now instructed lawyers over “defamatory” abuse she has received from the man last in football as Bristol Rovers boss.

  10. CELTIC40ME @ 3:04 PM, 3:07 PM,



    You are conflating different things here.



    Brendan Rodgers MkI didn’t exclusively moneyball players to get his success, far from it.



    Ange Postecoglou didn’t exclusively moneyball players to get his success, far from it.



    Neil Lennon Mk I didn’t start off with the moneyball approach and Neil Lennon Mk II didn’t use the moneyball approach.



    The idea that our domestic success was built on moneyball players is a myth, it was actually a hunderence.



    Secondly our Generation of Domination.



    Many times on these pages I’ve asked who did we dominate?



    There has never been an answer.



    Kevin Bridges joked that Scottish Football was a two horse race that morphed into showjumping.



    On the Maslow’s Hammer response to Auldheid.



    My point was when you get exclusively businessmen to run a football club, they run the club like a business.



    Celtic needs to be run like a football club.



    BTW: Do you think we should buy any more young development players in this transfer window.



    Hail Hail



    Hail Hail

  11. garygillespieshamstring on

    Go Tell






    While I appreciate the points you make, the woman’s team me, the

  12. garygillespieshamstring on

    Go tell



    isn’t important in terms of financing it. The women’s team budget should be self financing from money it brings in, not being funded in such a way as to draw on finance generated in relation to the first team.



    Youth and B teams are different as that should be the route towards the first team, so requires reasonable investment



    Obviously stadium and training ground upgrades are vital and the Barrowfield development is a good idea.



    However the first team shoukf also have first call on that facility as required.

  13. Prestonpans bhoys on

    A very happy hoopy birthday to CORKCELT 🇮🇪 🥂🍻



    A very easy one to remember because he’s the day before mine 😅🤣😂

  14. KINGLUBO @ 4:02 PM,



    Cheers for that…



    Aff oot now, to give you all peace and quiet.



    Have a great one



    Hail Hail

  15. CHAIRBHOY on 9TH JANUARY 2024 3:32 PM



    “You are conflating different things here.”



    I’m not. You said earlier today “In over a decade of running this “model.”



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



    I dont think you get the model. Its not moneyball and we dont only sign “moneyball” players.



    Its very difficult to imagine someone is interested in rational debate if they’re going to describe the last ten years as disastrous to make a point. Or even the position we find ourselves in at the moment.



    But if I get you correct you’re suggesting we’ve followed a model for ten disastrous years, all the success has been despite it, except for when we’ve abandoned it when we’ve been properly successful. Although the success isnt really success because the rangers have been shite.



    Its a funny old bit of ten year strategising that abandons the model at various times and when that proves successful the model is stubbornly taken up again.



    Its just my opinion but I think people get a bit obsessed about the boards attachment to it. Its not something they take out for a movie and dinner, its just business strategy that is only useful if its successful for the club and the business. Its just business, its not like they’ll think they’re a bunch of failures if it doesnt work.

  16. Chairbhoy,



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




    The most successful period in our history,now being labelled” Disastrous”.


    Just WTF would your idea of success be,if not the probability of 11 out of the last 12 leagues,quadruple history breaking Trebles.Record turnover.Record Bank Balance.Record Sponsorship.Record equalling transfer record for Jota,featuring ,to you anyway,the dreaded “Moneyball and age”. O Riley,next up,probably followed be Bernardo in the future,but most definitely,Hatate, at present.



    Disastrous,?Away and give me fekin peace.

  17. Back to Basics - Glass Half Full on

    “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”






    Examples? I know it happened once in a blue moon e.g. Duncan Disorderly.



    As for the others quoted?



    More often than not a £6m signing was trumpeted as a £4.5m swoop.



    When the swooped for player flopped he was sold for £3m – trumpeted as a £4.5 success.



    No one in the SMSM looked at the money.



    “Too complicated. We’re football men”




  18. Go tell the Spartim on




    I concur the first team should come first. I also take your point that things should be “self financing” but I think the woman’s game, especially Celtic needs a bigger investment from elsewhere to get it going, otherwise it’ll slip away.



    The B team and youth development is another conundrum having a richer league in our doorstep that can cherry pick and offer eye watering sums (T that age) to any promising players.



    My general point is I think we are way behind where we could be.

  19. Back to Basics - Glass Half Full on

    Peter Lawwell secretly wants Sevco to do well.






    Where does this come from?



    Phil MacG occasionally reminds readers of a “that’ll cost us £5m” quote when Oldco were liquidated.



    And his prediction was accurate.



    Average home attendances dropped by 10-15% in the absence of a scary blue monster.



    That indicates something to me about a small percentage of the faithful rather than anything about the former CEO (current chairman)

  20. bournesouprecipe on

    Easy to see the Blueless years,



    Season ticket sales



    2023 (sold out no figure reported)


    2022 52,562


    2021 55,320


    2020 52,457


    2019 52,520


    2018 52,229


    2017 48,732


    2016 39,309


    2015 40,472


    2014 43,072


    2013 41,716


    2012 44,975


    2011 44,734


    2010 50,826


    2009 54,252


    2008 53,517


    2007 53,040


    2006 53,602


    2005 53,369


    2004 53,158


    2003 53,464


    2002 53,457




    At the risk of being seen to be taking sides and perpetuating it myself it seems like we’re now at the point where just about every discussion about important Celtic matters is turned into a proxy argument about PL.

  22. garygillespieshamstring on




    Video Celts is a lot worse than here.



    Currently carrying a poll “who is doing most to damage Celtic?”



    Options 1. He cant help himself over a picture of PL


    Option 2 . Incredibly unferqualified over picture of ML


    Option 3. Performances are on him over picture of BR

  23. Prestonpans bhoys on




    What surprised me was the healthy vote count in that poll 2,351 !!

  24. Stewart Milne interested in buying Stewart Milne Homes…….who sacked their staff by pre recorded message…….stay classy……

  25. Celtic40me



    Your last point seems utterly ridiculous given the guy in question is non exec chair and paid a relatively modest amount with no bonus plus he has a limited shareholding in the club.



    He did preside over the most successful 2 decades in terms of trophies won but that actually doesn’t really matter now. Although some seem a bit bitter about that period in suggesting it was a disaster or a failure.



    Folk seem to conflate what the guy does at the club now with what he did historically. All this crap about him trying to force a manager out, or force his strategy on the manager is playground chat at best.



    For some he will always live rent free in their heads regardless of his role and whether he spends more of his time at St Andrews or Portugal or even in the Gulf these days.




    Better than a binary choice I guess.



    I’d vote for Option 4: The internet

  27. BURNLEY78 on 9TH JANUARY 2024 6:52 PM



    Constantly concentrating on personalities doesnt sit right with me, but I guess thats how we frame every story or issue generally these days. Reducing everything down to what we are able to understand better makes for a more comfortable life but its not good for society as a whole.



    Celtic Park doesnt strike me as a happy place these days – sitting top of the league and just after winning our first CL game for a long time we had a lot of people getting very angry at a defeat and taking it out on man individual

  28. bigrailroadblues on

    Absolutely no hun shirts in San Juan. Plenty Celtic shirts/shorts. Let the good times roll 👍

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