Feyenoord beat Heerenveen 6-1 on Saturday, won 1-5 at Utrecht in their previous game and recorded another 6-1, home to Almere before that. That is lightening form. Draws in their opening two games of the season are the only chink in the armour. The Dutch champions are a weaker Pot 1 side, but they won a far stronger league than Celtic compete in and are formidable opponents.
When facing the media yesterday, Brendan Rodgers acknowledged there was hard work ahead, “We’re not at peak Celtic”. Acknowledging yet another knock to yet another central defender, this time Nat Phillips’ rolled ankle, he would surely want another few weeks with his embryonic squad before going into such a match.
Reassuringly, the manager spoke about the players having “flexibility”, which he explained as “when you defend… you have to have that collective responsibility and resilience.” I want to see us defensively organised. We are not Barcelona 2012 and we’re not even peak Celtic 2023, so let’s not leave shipping container-sized gaps in defence.
You and I have seen too many Champions League away games to set expectations as lofty as a single point, but as ever, we can hope.
Celtic’s preliminary accounts for the year to 30 June 2023, released yesterday evening, broke all of the right records for a Scottish football club. Turnover was close to 19% up on our previous high (35% up on the year), profit after tax was £33.332m and our net cash position was a surplus of £72.3m.
For context, our highest turnover in either of the Ronny Delia seasons was £52m, £20m less than we had in the bank at the end of June. It is financial guardianship like this that deliveres trophies and all those trebles. Football and monetary success are symbiotic. We don’t have details that will eventually be available when the final accounts are published, but the notes confirm the sale of Jota took place before the year end.
It is informative how hard information often contradicts assumed facts. Profit from the sales of Jota, Juranovic and Giakoumakis in total was £14.4m, this is after the asset write-down and money paid out to Benfica, Legia Warsaw and VVV Venlo.
The club mentioned the previous two seasons as a unitary block twice in the accounts. Peter Lawwell noted, “total spend [on player registrations was]£51.4m over the two financial years to 30 June 2023”. And went on to say, “reserves….. will be used for settling outstanding sums due from transfers over the last two seasons”.
Money in the bank also allowed the green light on the extensive upgrades to Barrowfield, which will see a dedicated facility for youth and women’s teams, including an indoor training field. We will pick up on the accounts again when we get the finals.
Let’s hope for the right result against Feyenoord this time.