Celtic’s accounts were later than usual last year, doubtlessly due to world events, but I expect them to be out this month. The year to 30 June 2021 will make grim reading, although the notes will record monies received and pledged for the subsequent sales of Kristofer Ajer, Odsonne Edouard and Ryan Christie. Celtic will recover from a remarkably difficult period solvent and in competitive shape.
As you don’t need me to remind you, this season’s title brings automatic entry to the Champions League group stage, with riches that can significantly influence domestic competitiveness. Last season’s title was about history, this season’s is about the future.
Solvent and competitive shape is a condition Newco also aspire to. Their last published accounts, to 30 June 2020, noted an eye-watering loss £17m. We will hear what their title win cost at some point this autumn, it is unlikely to be an improvement.
When they lost to Malmo, discrete comments were made that they needed to sell players, a feat that proved beyond them in the transfer window. Their recent pubic share issue was undersubscribed, although it will go some way towards repaying borrowings from former chairman, Dave King, due next month.
With season ticket money expired, they were forced to issue shares on 10 separate occasions between November last year and June. The club’s appetite to burn cash has not abated since. Uefa intend to tweak Financial Fair Play regulations, but they will remain and may become more onerous.
Clubs cannot lose money indefinitely, they eventually need to live within their means or face an insolvency event.
It does not matter how bare the bank account is, I suspect Newco will find the money to keep the lights on between now and their visit to Celtic Park on 2 January. They currently have a three-point advantage and will hope they can build a firm advantage in the title chase by then. If they do, they will find the money for another 10 share issues if necessary, in order to win the Champions League bounty.
If they leave Celtic Park with their league chances looking grim, how easy will it be to fund an enterprise that will forever lose money? We are approaching the 10th anniversary of when Rangers went into administration (14 February 2012). The weeks and months running up to that date were characterised by a circling of the wagons and firm denials of the problems ahead.
We covered Rangers finances on these pages at the time. We could not be sure how events would play out, but the facts were writ large, as they are now with Newco. It’s like an Ibrox echo.
What’s more important, a title for history or a title for the future? Right now it feels like history, but by the spring that will change.