Sustainable football success, as we often discuss, is all about the money. In that respect, Newco’s Europa League run will be a significant benefit to them. Winning the tournament, which surely is a greater prospect than them reaching the final was as recently as a month ago, would bring multi-year sustainability to a club which has been a financial basket case for its entire existence.
Even if they fall at the final hurdle, they are likely to have earned £10m more from Europe than last season, there will be associated commercial benefits and crucially, the perceived value of a raft of players out of contract next summer is likely to have doubled. They will sell at a significant premium.
This season will see Newco break even for the first time. The sale of Patterson to Everton earned £9m, with compensation from Aston Villa for their management team bringing in a further £4.5m. Turnover, which excludes money from Everton and Villa, is likely to reach £75m, a lot of money for a young club. Any prospect of Financial Fair Play consequences has disappeared.
To give you an insight into how far ahead Celtic are commercially, that £75m may not be enough to make Newco the highest earning club in Glasgow (transfer fees Celtic received for Edouard, Ajer, etc. are also excluded from this calculation). Next season, Celtic will turnover in excess of £100m, Newco still have work to do to come within £30m of that total.
With the consistent rise in Scotland’s Uefa coefficient, we are likely to see several years where our champions gain automatic entry to the Champions League group stage, whereas the runners up endure two rounds of the treacherous non-champions qualification route. Only two group stage slots are available this way. The stakes could scarcely be higher.
But first, winning the league, qualification for the Champions League with all its benefits lies ahead for Celtic. We battered Hearts in the League and League Cup at Celtic Park this season but won by the slenderest margin on both occasions. Hearts will not make it easy tomorrow. They started the campaign by beating Celtic and feel aggrieved from the subsequent encounters.
Beat Hearts, win the league at Tannadice, celebrate with the trophy and 60,000 friends against Motherwell and remind the world: Glasgow’s green and white! You and I will make sure it remains this way.