Pay your way or go to the wall


I’ve not touched the Anthony Stokes story on purpose. It’s one of those stories you could be writing for a week, if you started. Anthony enjoyed a successful period for Celtic but the writing has been on the wall since the latter part of Neil Lennon’s era.

He’s still only 27, with around half his career ahead of him, but it won’t be at Celtic. I hope he gets a club who can make the most of his talent.

Despite the riches brought by a new TV deal solidarity contract, many English Football League clubs are still under severe financial pressure, including Neil’s current charges, Bolton Wanderers. Bolton owe the vast majority of their circa £200m debt to owner Eddie Davies, so there’s a good chance that will be written off, but administration remains likely.

Bolton chairman, Phil Gartside, who I hear is now seriously ill, saw this coming years ago, when he proposed an EPL 2-type league reorganisation, while lobbying for the inclusion of Celtic and Rangers. The plan was kyboshed by his then fellow Premier League acquaintances. It would have been transformational for Celtic, and literally a life saver for Rangers.

That Bolton debt figure is pretty eye-watering but the returns from non-league club Forest Green Rovers caught the eye. Net debts reached £5.4m after season 2013-14, thanks to a £2.9m loss. In non-league football. There’s only one Scottish club with that kind of debt. Although I suppose they are also playing off-piste in the Championship.  Pay your way or go to the wall.  Long term that rule applies.

The football industry in England and Wales will survive for a while yet, despite the broken financial model. It won’t be until the TV rights value drops due to reliable and easy to access pirate feeds that the bubble will burst. And it will burst.  The underlying fragility in the football business is that your expenditure is either fixed or often contracted on a multi-year basis, while income is vulnerable to sharp shocks.  It’s not a healthy business to be running at a deficit in.

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  1. John Hughes



    “I had a word with Stokesy on Sunday. I went hunting for him before the match. He’s not a bad lad. He’s a lovable rogue, a maverick of a footballer, but he’s not a bad lad.



    “I was aware of all the stuff that was going on and I could understand his frustration. I just said to him: “Stokesy, do me a favour. Don’t let the penny drop when it’s too late. When you leave Glasgow Celtic the only way is down, trust me son. Trust me. Do me another favour son. Go get yourself as fit as you can, get your head down and let your football do the talking.”



    “I told him to go prove people wrong. To knuckle down. Will he listen to me? Well, if he doesn’t then I wish him all the best. If ever he needs guidance, I’m always there for him and I always will be, but I will only ever tell him the same thing. And that will never change. Leave Celtic and it’s a downward spiral.



    “Everyone can see Stokesy has talent, but that’s not enough. You need to apply yourself properly. You need to give it everything. Even at Inverness, I will come in after training and say: “What do you think?” One of the coaches will say: “He was a bit off it”. But the guy we think might not be at it might be giving his absolute best. So you have to have to ask if that player comes up to your standards. And if the answer is “No” then you have to move him on. That’s the way it works.



    “There is no better place to play your football than Celtic Park. There is nowhere better than Celtic. Nowhere. The training facilities at Lennoxtown are a privilege. You have to grasp that and make it work. And that’s what I said to Stokesy. I said to him: “Grab this, because see when you are finished? Don’t have any regrets.” I hope he was listening to me. I hope he was taking it in and it will make a difference. We’ll see.”

  2. millerston tim on

    If Stokesley stays or goes ito doesn’t matter as ronny will only play 1 up front. Come on ronny try something new against the accies on Saturday. Try 2 up front . Get 2 wingers to the bye line cross it to big cole knock back to Griffiths goal. easy. If this works try it in Turkey. Let’s go out out Europe with a bang. This 1 up front pisses me off especially if midfield are slow in backup.

  3. timaloy29 on 3rd December 2015 5:01 pm



    I understand there could have been a clamour for his inclusion,but not from me,my view is he should not have been signed as he was/is not match fit and as you say a big unit which makes a return to reasonable fitness more unlikely.


    Agree about the Caber Tossers but fitness still required.

  4. Hope and pray that the great Tommy Gemmell gets well soon. He has given me and thousands of others so many brilliant memories. Class.



    Hope Anthony Stokes listens to John Hughes. Can’t say I’m a great fan but he has given me the odd memory or two too.

  5. Mahe


    Thanks will try both and was going to try Cassidys





    Know it well. Be in and fell oot blootered in a few Belfsst Bars just looking to see the game at 3pm as its not on the usual outlets




  6. Great advice from big Yogi,but too late for AS probably,if Ciftci was getting a game in front of you,you would be pissed off too.He shouldn’t have done what he did ,Johansen halfed Tierney in training a few weeks ago,caused a melee,and he was given 2 weeks paid holiday……..

  7. Kikinthenakas


    . If you are in city centre go to Belfast bar at corner of King St/Castle St opposite Ibis Hotel or Central Catholic Club (£2.70 a pint) in Rosemary St


    Or take a black taxi in King St and go to any bar up Falls Road, McDermots, Davitts, Rock Bar or Felon’s Club

  8. mike in toronto on

    on the Stokes debate ….



    I can only comment on what I see (games he played) and what I hear (stories in press about his off-field antics)…. so I am sure there is much (both good and bad) of which I am not aware ….



    but, I will say this ….



    during that game at Kille, he was one of the few who pulled his socks, and, I believe, kept NL in a job ….



    AS always seemed to me to be one of our better TEAM players … at times, his link up play with Izzy was very good … sometimes I thought they were the only two who trained together (too often we look like 11 individuals out on the park, rather than one team) ….



    during his Celtic career, he seemed to go from a more central striker, to a wide forward, to a wide mid …. when the midfiled didn’t create chances (and we haven’t had a midfiled that did that in several years), he began to move wider and deeper to try to be involved in the play … if he was instructed to do that, that is hardly his fault, and, even if he did it more on his own, trying to be part of the team, and get others involved, is hardly the worst offence, in my eyes.



    I get there may be issues of the park, but, on the park, he was one of the better TEAM players we have had the last few seasons.



    If he goes, he goes with my best wishes.

  9. starry plough on 3rd December 2015 5:17 pm



    Thanks for posting the John Hughes comments,I had not seen these.



    Sounds like a common sense Tommy Burns approach which perhaps is the middle man we need when dealing with the players, as opposed to a Black and White authoritarian approach,which can be lost in translation.



    Perhaps that was the perceived role for Mr McGuiness but sometimes its more accepted from a known face.

  10. Heard about Tommy last night and put in a call to see how he’s fairing. Looks like he’ll be in hospital into the New Year but is going to be fine. Apparently he’ll not be out as long as Charlie Mulgrew, so there’s a wee bit of humour there!



    Tommy’s legs are so weak. He needs more help than is being afforded.

  11. weeminger



    Like mine, your view is no doubt widely shared by Celtic fans regarding Anthony Stokes and his inappropriate use of social media, ( which I thought was followed by another ‘tweet’ offering apology, if he didn’t I stand corrected on that,) however that was my impression of what occurred.



    I’m sure he’s sorry now, but like I said, still totally disproportionate taking into account previous tweets by Celtic players, and other potential cases of misconduct.



    What was minor was changed to major, after being very ‘publicly’ mishandled by Celtic.



    IMHO csc

  12. thomthethim for Oscar OK on

    It is surely not beyond the bounds of possibility that Celtic and other clubs, have a sliding scale of fines, based on previous : i.e. first breach of discipline, etc.



    Anthony Stokes must be well up on the scale if that is the case.



    In this day and age, footballers should be conducting themselves in the possible manner.



    I trust the club on this one, based on what is in the public record re AS.



    That goes for any player.



    I think it was particularly crass of him to go public after the Inverness game, when you consider the hardships, physical and financial, that those supporters who made the trip endured.



    Bye, bye, Anthony, Celtic served you well.

  13. BSR – he did eventually apologise but only after a few supporters had had ago. Some of the abuse he received directly from fans made me wonder why any of them bother at all though.

  14. Get well soon tommy gemmell celtic greatest left back.


    Screw the nut stokesy you obviously dont know how privileged you are to play for the greatest team in the world. HH

  15. Tommy Gemmell’s fabulous strike against Inter Milan was a defining moment in the history of European football to break the stranglehold the latins had on the European Cup – yes of course we did get a second goal but Tommy’s was the one that had Milan staggering. Get well Tommy.

  16. weebobbycollins on

    Good luck to Gary Neville at Valencia. I like his attitude and I’m sure he will do well…



    another worth keeping an eye on is young Mark Burchill…looks like a good prospect…



    Time will tell…

  17. GreeninbingleyinOslo on



    Heard about Tommy last night and put in a call to see how he’s fairing. Looks like he’ll be in hospital into the New Year but is going to be fine. Apparently he’ll not be out as long as Charlie Mulgrew, so there’s a wee bit of humour there!



    Tommy’s legs are so weak. He needs more help than is being afforded.






    WC, is there anything we can do? I hate to think of the great Tommy Gemmell in his later years being banged up in hospital over Christmas and New Year.



    When you say ‘He needs more help than is being afforded’ – is it money? If it is, I’ll help and I am sure I won’t be alone.

  18. GlassTwoThirdsFull on

    Warbs – what part don’t you understand about me being Rangers manager?


    Errrr – “Rangers”?

  19. Shocking to watch on the news the attack on the manager of hoops bar on the news, where was the police and the Tornado fighter jets?

  20. Sipsini


    everyone in Europe new the Ajay mob would cause bother in the Gallowgate,


    Strathclydes finest too

  21. Guy from Transport Scotland just been on the news – name : “Stein Connelly”.



    Think he’s a Tim? :-)))

  22. lennon's passion on

    John Hughes would have been a better choice as No2 to Ronny than JC. He also likes to try and play football very approachable person,doesn’t take Any nonsense.

  23. Sipsini-I’m sure Strathclyde’s finest will catch the scum….. I bet they won’t have to look to Amsterdam,to find some of them

  24. !!BADA BING!! on 3RD DECEMBER 2015 6:44 PM



    Natknow-beat me to it,what a name!




    Belter, innit?



    Wish my parents had had the foresight!

  25. excathedra44



    Indeed, that’s just plain racism from The Herald.



    Should have been dealt with quietly in house, and there have been worse tweets from players that do, and don’t get a game for Celtic.



    I have a modicum of sympathy for Anthony Stokes it’s very easy to make a tweet you regret, he acknowleged his mistake, and we already know, footballers aren’t always the brightest.

  26. sipsini-an absolute scandal pubs who the police would have known,to be obvious targets for Alax scum and accomplices can be attacked so easily,I smell a rat….

  27. always liked Stoksey hope he does well in the future wherever he ends up. Have to say I agree with McColl scoring against us is eeasy, wait until there is a misplaced pass knock the ball fwd couple of passes shoot score. I cannot see it improving under Ronnie but hope he proves me wrong.

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