Newco accounts, a way forward if they take the medicine


It was around 5pm on the evening of 30 July 2003, Celtic were a couple of hours from playing a Champions League qualification game against Lithuanians, Kaunus, when an alert I had setup informed me the accounts for season 2002-03, the Seville season, were released.  I had been tracking our accounts for years and the cumulative losses, accrued since Dermot Desmond replaced Fergus McCann as the largest shareholder, was alarming.  We needed to break even and the Seville season would surely be the time.

Immediately I knew this was not a good sign.  Celtic Park had been packed out all season and the European ties extended into May for the first time in over 30 years.  There was also a massive splurge on retail memorabilia, as shirts, DVDs and Seville programmes were bought in their thousands.  After years of consecutive loss, we could be hopeful of some black ink at the bottom of the accounts.

The ominous timing of the publication was for a reason; income was up but wages rocketed, Celtic were spending 10% more than income.  Putting the information out hours before a Champions League qualifier was an attempt to divert headlines away from a harsh reality: Celtic were underwater.  Again.  We were borrowing to pay wages we could not afford.

So when Newco released their accounts late on Friday evening, you did not need to read them to know what they contained.

Last season was the first Newco competed in group stage European football, meaning this document would be significantly different from all previous Newco accounts.  Income was up substantially at £53m (2018: £32m) but operating expenses also rose, to £58m (2018: £39m).  This resulted in an operating loss before player transfer considerations of £4.4m.  A transfer amortisation charge (don’t start me!) of £7.2m, finance costs and £3m from player sales took the annual loss to £11.2m.

A year earlier Newco predicted they would require £3m additional funding this year, that figure has been revised to £10m.  The board also said a “material uncertainty exists which may cast doubt over the Group’s ability to continue as a going concern”.  Which is disarmingly frank.

By contrast, Celtic went one extra round in the Europa League, but turnover was £83m, a full £35m more than Newco.  Gate receipts were comparable: Celtic £35m, Newco £32m, as were media rights (including Uefa money), Celtic £16m, Newco £11m.  The big gaps came in sponsorship, Celtic £10m, Newco £2.8m, Retail, Celtic £13m, Newco £4m and stadium operations, Celtic £7.6m, Newco 3.5m.

Newco remain, but their own board’s admission, in a perilous position, but there is a workable way forward.  Revenue is within touching distance of operating expenses, shaving £5m in costs would get them there, and a significant portion of that would be taken care of if they stopped futile court actions against Mike Ashley.

They would have no money to buy players without first selling, but every other club in Scotland, bar one, is in the same boat and most manage quite successfully.  Ambitions would need to be tempered; becoming the top team in Scotland could only be achieved through, scouting, coaching and generally good housekeeping.  Of course, no amount of good housekeeping would make them likely to be the top team in Scotland, but they have more money at their disposal than Cluj have ever seen, so such dreams are not impossible.

There are also inordinate risks of running at such a loss.  It is more likely that next season they will fail to reach the Europa League group stage than overcoming Celtic, significantly increasing the burn rate.

My guess is that Dave King will continue to bankroll losses for as long as he can afford.  When he eventually goes, there is a chance a less flamboyant character will take control and deliver that harshest of medicines: living within your means.  They have done remarkably well to market their chances: the brilliant city trader, the exotic Portuguese, the A-list celeb.  There are surely limits to how many times you can resurrect failed aspiration.  They question is, are Newco viable as perennial runners-up?

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  1. Macjay1



    It is difficult not to judge and I subscribe to not doing so without some information to reach as accurate a conclusion as possible.



    The Recital to the resolution Celtic oppose which can be read at






    25 Oct 2019 date with comment, provides a bit although not obviously everything, to at least seek clarification to help inform judgement.



    What I think is everybody including myself does what they think to be the right thing in the circumstances they face at the point of decision.



    Time tells whether it was right or not.



    By their fruits and discernment stuff by Loyola which is a form of guidance on discerning what is a actually right.



    Does decision come from generosity or meanness of spirit?



    Who are we to judge eh?



    So easy to kid ourselves.

  2. As far as I know,no updates,Boli had injured his hamstring.As I said,no idea the severity.I would play Taylor.On that subject,could be wrong,did Big Tam not say he can play anywhere across the back 4 when he signed?Bauer could then play RB.Whatever,we need to be solid at the back,not too open.I would like to see,Ntcham,alongside Broony and Calmac,with Ryan backing up Eddy and Jamesy.Don’t know if we can afford to go 4-3-3.Wit the Fek do I know?

  3. macjay1 for Neil Lennon on

    AULDHEID on 5TH NOVEMBER 2019 11:12 AM




    What is right ? Easier to decide what is wrong . We both have years of experience of that. As have our forefathers. I find it difficult to believe the accusations that our Board are complicit with wrong doing .


    Having said that , it is entirely possible that they have mishandled the whole affair.


    They should be called to account. Hopefully without the O.T.T. contributions of some of their more outspoken critics.


    That would achieve nothing and put your years of work in jeopardy .



    Let me put it this way.



    I refuse to jump on bandwagons so that I can be ” wan o` the boys “, but if there were any reason to support your resolution , then your dogged persistence in attempting to promote what appears to be a just cause would be a significant factor.



    BTW. Can`t argue with Loyola. Well outgunned on that score.



    Good luck .

  4. Boli comments from last night:






    According to Bolingoli, Brown will provide calm. “He’s a leader and he showed that again on Saturday,” said the 24-year-old Belgian. “Scott plays well in every game. He makes you feel really comfortable on the pitch, and it’s good to have a player like that on the field that controls the game and the team.”



    Bolingoli played in the San Siro Stadium last February for his previous club, Rapid Vienna, before his £3.5 million move to Celtic in July. Rapid reached the last 32 of the Europa League, as did Celtic, but were eliminated 5-0 on aggregate by Inter Milan.



    “It is always a nice experience to play against an Italian team, so I can’t wait to go back there,” said Bolingoli. “Lazio are one of the biggest teams in Italy. Serie A is a good level of competition, but we just try to focus and get the three points that will keep us top of the group and in a good position. Lazio are a good team, and they came here [to Glasgow] with a lot of confidence, but we were playing at home and that was a positive for us. We did well, and it was nice to get the goal from Jullien so late in the game.”



    Asked if Celtic could take confidence from having beaten one of Italy’s leading sides, who are now third in the group behind Celtic and Cluj, of Romania, Bolingoli replied: “We go into every game with a lot of confidence. We have a lot of quality players in the team, so we go into every game with a positive mind-set and try to play our game. We now go out to Rome and we go with the mind-set of getting these three points to put us in a great position in the Europa League. We will just do our thing, stay focused on our game but, if the other teams are losing points too, then, of course, it is better for us.”






    So NL said he tweaked his hamstring and is a doubt.



    Boli is talking like a guy who thinks he will play

  5. !!BADA BING!! on 5TH NOVEMBER 2019 10:56 AM


    CELTIC ace Olivier Ntcham has switched nationalities from France to Cameroon after being called up for their Africa Cup of Nations qualifying matches against Cape Verde and Rwanda.






    Good for Olly.



    It would be impossible to break into that France side but he has a chance of playing in a World Cup with Cameroon. Its also important to note that the Cup of Nations has now switched to a summer calendar so no danger of Olly heading off to a tournament mid-season.



    It will be interesting to see if Moussa Dembele switches allegiances to Mali.

  6. Lunch time in a cloudy Rome – monsoon forecast for later .



    Radio on in the bar – wee anticipatory item re Lazio v Celtic . – Inzaghi’s constant turnover of the squad might mean that the Spanish midfielder Jony ( not a popular player ) might play instead of Lulic – a much better /more popular player who needs to be rested for the much more serious Top 4 in Serie A target . . Guy behind the bar groaned and offered up a Jony -Vaffanculo.

  7. ‘I find it difficult to believe the accusations that our Board are complicit with wrong doing .’








    Who’d have thunk it?

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