If you’ve been here for 12 years you’ll know that Celtic Quick News started because there was a great untold financial story going on in Scottish football. Celtic were castigated by many, including a large portion of their own support, as “prudent”, while Rangers, then under the majority ownership of Sir David Murray, were lauded for their willingness to ambitiously push the boat out.
But there was a problem. Celtic were losing millions every year. Rangers were losing a lot more, £35m in one season alone. David Murray’s company, Murray International Holdings (MIH), were ½ a billion in debt to Bank of Scotland, and rising.
By this stage MIH’s steel business was dwarfed in significance by its property portfolio. They borrowed from the bank and, perhaps with an eye on the fantasy Ibrox Super Casino, gambled that the market would rise inextricably.
For a few years the debt kept rising. “What’s the problem?” many said, if the Bank are prepared to lend MIH and Rangers, their strategy must be sound. These were difficult times to be preaching financial responsibility in Scottish football, but the reality was written in mile-high font for many of us. “They’re going to crash and burn”, seemed inevitable.
Today we read the news that MIH are, like Rangers before them, finally liquidated. Ignore the reported £200m that Lloyds Banking Group (now owners of Bank of Scotland) lost, that’s just the loose change. The Bank had swapped debt for shares in MIH as clouds gathered. The true financial cost to Lloyds (significantly owned by UK taxpayers) is vastly higher.
Much of the story of David Murray will never be told, not while he’s alive, anyway, as it took place well away from verifiable sources. This might change after he’s dead. The one redeeming positive he brought to football was to end the sectarian signing policy at Rangers in 1989. For that he should be lauded, many before him had the chance to do the same but chose not to.
That aside, the influence of Murray and MIH was poisonous to his club. He sold out for £1 to a liquidation expert in May 2011, against the wishes of his own board’s advisory committee, as his club claimed its last ever league title. The rest, is poetic history.
As luck would have it, tonight I’ll be with some Celtic supporter friends. We’ll raise a glass to Sir David and his legacy. Thanks for all you achieved, David, it could never have happened without you.
Erik Sviatchenko is a lesson in the difference good players make to a team. He’s started 11 games since joining in January, we’ve lost four goals over that period. In our previous 11 games we lost 12 goals. His impact on team performance has been phenomenal.
We’ll miss him tomorrow – so should make tactical changes to accommodate the perceived risk.
Motherwell are on fire. Less than two months ago they were in the play-off spot. Now they need just one point to guarantee a top six finish. They will battle every second for that point. If we are going to win tomorrow’s game, we will need to put in our of our best shifts of the season.
Time to get it together, Celtic.