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State of the Club Report, 2020

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My friends in Celtic, our first nine-in-a-row, coming days after the infamous European Cup semi-final defeat to the thugs of Atletico Madrid, brought some cheer to a muted week for Celtic fans.  It was a new World Record, but the globe is too big a place for World Records to be meaningful to most people.  Those honours count most in your own backyard.

Winning nine for a second time this year would, in normal circumstances, be an occasion to cherish; I bet the merchandise opportunities were a glint in the eye of the commercial department a year ago.  When it eventually came, through an SPFL board vote, we did what we could to muster some cheer, but the world had much more to worry about than sporting records, even if nine was now only a Scottish landmark.  The pandemic robbed some of far more than football glory, but it denied Celtic fans a special moment.

The football industry, like most entertainment businesses, is on its uppers, with consequences for every club.  Aberdeen, with costs far lower than ours, talk about losing £1m per month, but with furlough arrangements, voluntary wage reductions of managerial and executive staff, deferments among players, the financial impact of the virus has yet to hit.

Celtic’s risk is three fold: there will be a reduction in revenue from match day activities, merchandising and commercial streams, while health and safety costs will increase, albeit not by a significant margin, between them, these two measures will cost at least £10m, possibly much more.

The third risk is the increased jeopardy seeds like Celtic face in European qualification.  The first three rounds of qualification for the Champions and Europa Leagues are one-off games.  The Europa playoff round is also single leg, whereas the Champions League playoff is over two legs.  The danger is clear: have a Lincoln Red Imps away day and even an invincible treble winning team could be out of Europe altogether.

No European football and, all other things being equal, Celtic will make a loss of several tens of millions of pounds next season.  Europa League group stage participation will see that loss curtailed, but not by much.  Reach the Champions League and, for a period, we will be one of the financially strongest clubs in Europe at a time when perhaps 75% of clubs will be underwater and keen to trade players.

So what can we do about it?  It is generally difficult to overhaul your team before the early qualification rounds.  Paying €5m for a goalkeeper is a good sign of intent, but it could also be interpreted as acknowledgement by the board of the stakes at play.  Years of good leadership put Celtic in a strong position going into this crisis, now we are splashing millions in July, when the keeper who started last season’s qualifiers is still on the books; anxiety levels must be different than the corresponding time last season.

Some clubs with options will use this crisis to trade well and improve their team beyond what would be achievable in normal times.  Celtic have options, but goodness, a bad night in the likes of Gibraltar would change all that.

I deliberately used the word ‘trading’ not just buying.  Selling wisely is as much a part of building successful football teams as buying is.  Manage your assets (take me back to 2004), get the good ones on long-term deals, if this is not possible, sell them at the top of the curve.  There is no obligation for football fans to care about finances, so if it’s not your thing, that’s ok, but my Article of fFith is ‘Teams which fail to manage their assets perform significantly worse than those who do’.

Understand your place in the food chain; let others get emotional when players (KT) or managers (BR) declare this or that, then leave.  It’s football, we have seen it all before.  Be unsentimental in the transfer market, trade well and you will outperform those who simply hope players love them back.

Our financial outlook over the next 12 months is so varied, it is not even worth speculating what will happen, but this is not your first season as a Celtic fan and you will know how to interpret the events as they fall over the next two months.

“Be unsentimental”, you say?  Try that.  Try getting 10-in-a-row out of your head when planning for this season.  If you can, you have icier fluids in your veins than I have.  Whatever ails the world, Celtic have to find the fortitude to deliver 10-in-a-row, but there are risks.

If you remember this corresponding article from a year ago, I said our chances of nine-in-a-row was no better than 50%.  While we were comfortably ahead when the league was called, a home defeat on 29 December opened the door to a challenger who bossed us for the second time that month.  I could write a book on what went wrong with Newco after the break, but they were more than capable of beating Hearts, Kilmarnock and Hamilton.  Had they done so, instead of losing and dropping two points at home to Aberdeen and another two to St Johnstone in Perth, they would have been champions when the votes were counted.

Winning leagues is seldom easy and Newco’s biggest problem last season was that they did not have a manager or players who had come through a campaign and delivered the title.  There is institutional knowledge at Celtic Park and Lennoxtown.  They know how to handle defeats – think back to Steven Gerrard’s post-match “bottle” comments about his players in defeat.  Reversals soon become crises, dressing room resourcefulness disappears, while the champions scent blood.

Newco know the league was lost before Covid struck but they also know they came closer than the final league table indicates.  They had a good opportunity and they still do.  As things stand, I don’t think their chances are as good as they were a year ago, but I would put the probability of the title going to Ibrox next year at 30%.

Several things temper my confidence: this is the last season I expect Newco to be close to Celtic.  They have made an operational loss every year since they were formed (and an actual loss if you overlook a remarkable IP revaluation).  This cannot go on, they are out of road on Financial Fair Play, and while Celtic contemplate a significant potential loss, Newco do not have the possibility of Champions League football and will find it impossible to break even and remain competitive.  Their outlook is very bleak and they face a significant retrenchment after this season; whatever resources they have will be deployed now.

Teams have a shelf life.  In the 60 years following the War, there seemed to be a time-limit of two seasons on a title winning team.  Two-in-a-row was achieved 11 times in that era, but nine of those champions lost the following season.  In the other two ocassions, the settled winning team went on to achieve nine successive titles.  Celtic’s Gordon Strachan and Rangers’ Walter Smith spoiled this symmetry by successively winning the title in three successive seasons.

There must be reasons why three-in-a-row was so difficult to achieve.  My suspicion is that any one team has around two years at the top and that winning sides are not broken up as quickly as they should be.  There is also a reason why, when three titles were achieved, it so readily turned into nine.  Perhaps the disruption of reworking a losing team three successive summers brought counter-productive turmoil.  We need to acknowledge that champions have a shelf life and history indicates this fact is usually recognised too late.

There is also the ‘What next?’ issue.  Rangers should have had more than enough to see off the challenge from Celtic in 1997-98, but early in the season the manager and some senior players were looking beyond life at Rangers.  Focus slipped and never recovered.  The ‘Stay for 10’ sentiment has kicked around Celtic for years now.  ‘What next?’ is a question some at the club will inevitably contemplate.  This is a watershed season for many at Celtic and there is nothing we can do to pretend otherwise.

There is also the potential for the pandemic to impact the new season.  Isolated lockdown and illness could severely affect any individual club.  If the virus gets into the Celtic squad, we will not win the league.  I know the club are vigilant on this issue, but all it takes is one infected opponent, or a careless Celtic player, and your first team could be unfit for months.

If a second wave comes, it is possible next season will also be curtailed.  A slow start to the season could lead to the league being called against you.  At no point can we be comfortable if we have ground to make up.

All empires fall and these Celtic players are competing in the rarest air.  They deserve enormous credit, as do those who support their work.  Whatever lies ahead of us this season, 10-in-a-row, two Scottish Cups and a fifth consecutive treble, or tears and despair, this will be a season you refer to for the rest of your life.  Enjoy it, and enjoy Green Day for the Foundation on Sunday, you wear something green and make a donation.

Take care, we are not through this yet.

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  1. Second wave…

     

     

    Depressing thought that we compete to win it and we can compete to win it in time….

  2. prestonpans bhoys on

    Unfortunately P67 is correct in that this season is in danger but not from Der Hun but from a potential second Covid wave.

  3. The Battered Bunnet on

    Reflecting what I was rambling on about yesterday/this morning;

     

     

    @nickeardleybbc

     

    “We have probably reached near the limits of opening up society” – Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty

     

     

    Says trade offs likely if we want other areas reopened

  4. GlassTwoThirdsFull on

    Ten in a row, Paul – wasn’t that achieved in 2007? Well, I guess when the people running the club are incapable of having a vision beyond the old firm (that’s where the European jeopardy lies, btw) then accepting Brysonism is part of the deal. And we certainly wouldn’t want to be upsetting anyone at our partner club!

     

    As to who will win the league. Hmmmm, let’s think. Celtic (58 titles and 23 in a row) or one of the others (11 titles between them; last one in 1985)? How about Hamilton? Consistently been getting within 70 points. Might just take the next step? Dundee Utd maybe – could continue their Championship-winning form? Or maybe Motherwell – experience of winning the league. If you have had a telegram from the queen you might even remember it! Then there’s Aberdeen. Currently sitting top of the table so it’s theirs to throw away, really.

     

    Aaahh – you know what – I think I might just stick my neck out and go with Celtic. In spite of their best efforts to make it far more difficult than it needs to be, they should just about have enough to sneak it by 15-20 points.

     

    Oops – maybe not TOO far ahead of our partner club though. Don’t want to risk damaging the old firm! Look at what happened to the last manager when he started going too far down that road…..

  5. Back to form today, Paul.

     

     

    There’s about 4 articles worth of stuff in that state of the nation article, Paul.

     

     

    If it still rankles that the “Wher’s the Seville money gone?” thinking still exists, I would lose the worry as it will always be with us.

     

     

    When my first son was born, my wife and I noticed how impatient he was as a still baby to have movement, as a crawler to walk, and as a talker to learn to read. He never stopped and took pleasure in each acomplishment but threw himself on grimly to master the next challenge. He was not a particularly happy child, though very talented. He has calmed down somewhat as he matured but he is still restless for his next mountain to climb. I am almost tempted to point him towards Bhuddism.

     

     

    Like him, we, the Celtic Support, have taken less joy than we should from our existing generation of domination in Scottish Football. We have replaced brief satisfaction with domestic titles and cups with dissatisfaction that we have not made ourselves more competitive with European elite clubs and journeymen clubs from the elite and financially advantaged leagues.

     

     

    Now, striving to be better is good. Striving to be miserable is not so healthy.

     

     

    Dismissing the very real glass ceilings and financial disadvantages as “excuses” is just the same as asking “Why did we not kick on with the Seville riches?”

     

     

    I , too, think we are favourites for this league but I, too can see a whole host of things that can go wrong. As an emotional response to this, I have many options:-

     

     

    I can be fearful and fret about what others are doing to reduce the possibility of failure.

     

     

    I can rant and rave about what I peceive, without inside knowledge, to be the failures.

     

     

    I can be calm and serene, but would I enjoy the football if I just auto-medicated with serenity?

     

     

    Or, I can strap in for the ride and take the highs, lows and mehs as they come along.

     

     

    I will try very hard to be like that, but, at the end, we all knoww that failure to land the title will end several careers. We are human so we are not good losers. We need our scapegoats and our sacrifices from the people who did not listen to our wisdom on the matter.

     

     

    We need our “Seville money”thinking to resolcve our cognitive dissonance in coping with defeat.

  6. Paul Brennan/Peter Lawwell

     

    So, going by your header, it is doom and gloom, followed by more doom and gloom, with further lashings of doom and gloom.

     

    I agree about CV19. but the rest of the articles is ‘woe is me’.

     

    We as well just forget about next year and take up another hobby after reading that nonsense that you both peddled to the gullible.

     

    Strange how you completely forgot to mention the huge savings that the club will make because of no policing or stewarding which will not be required.

     

    Funny that.

  7. Pingback: State of the Club Report, 2020 Paul67 - Celtic FC News Aggregation

  8. Also worth mentioning that all these COVID- and attendant financial problems will be faced by our European opponents too.

  9. Paul 67

     

    Decent article with a few varied strands. I do take issue though with the premise that Newclub (not Newco as you constantly refer to) would have wo the league if they had won the games mentioned. My recollection is that Celtic were 2 points ahead in the league at the break, and still had 2 games to play v the Newclub. So the outcome was entirely in our hands.

  10. LAMBERT14 on 31ST JULY 2020 12:48 PM

     

    Paul Brennan/Peter Lawwell

     

     

    So, going by your header, it is doom and gloom, followed by more doom and gloom, with further lashings of doom and gloom.

     

     

    I agree about CV19. but the rest of the articles is ‘woe is me’.

     

     

    We as well just forget about next year and take up another hobby after reading that nonsense that you both peddled to the gullible.

     

     

    Strange how you completely forgot to mention the huge savings that the club will make because of no policing or stewarding which will not be required.

     

     

    Funny that.

     

     

    ____

     

     

    Have you looked at the club accounts? Do you really think savings on stewarding & policing come close to matching losses on matchday revenue?

     

     

    ‘Woe is me’

     

     

    It’s more of an honest assessment of the challenges that face our club (and the rest of football) during these unprecedented circumstances.

     

     

    Fans won’t have been at Celtic Park between February and September 14th (if we are lucky)

     

     

    Do you expect a rosy picture?

  11. …..☘️☘️☘️☘️….

     

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    …☘️……………. ☘️

     

    …….☘️☘️☘️☘️…

     

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    ………………..☘️…..

     

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    …………☘️……….

     

     

    HWGTIAR

  12. eddieinkirkmichael on

    SFTB

     

    That’s just mad rhetoric altogether.

     

     

     

    Paul 67 has just asked that stadiums can be opened up with required sanitation and social distancing efforts.

     

     

     

    He has not called for our English or Irish or Scottish supporters to go to restaurants or pubs or garages whilst here. If they do so they do of their own accord as they have the option of filling up before they go and eating and drinking home made or bought food and drink.

     

     

     

    And finally, instead of travelling up the road to CP in an allowed social bubble, their alternative Saturday occupation may very well be visiting a pub or restaurant or garage locally.

     

     

     

    Now I hope you were not one of the McGlashans down protesting on the A74 at Gretna, as the objection then sounds more to be about thae English coming up here and spreading their germs than it is about too fast a release of lockdown restrictions.

     

     

     

    Now- that’s the kind of syllogistic thinking that Dom Cummings has mastered-

     

     

    My point, as you know only to well, is that while we continue to have sporadic outbreaks throughout the UK it would be irresponsible for any organisation to encourage travel outwith their immediate area. Do you really think that someone with a season that was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to go to Celtic Park would decline due to the pandemic? The risks imo would be to great at the present time given that many areas of the UK have higher infection rates at present than when we first went into lockdown. I get that we all want to see our team in the flesh but if even limited crowds meant we put even 1 life at risk then that is to high a price to pay.

     

     

    Your comment about M74, are you implying that I’m racist? Seriously disappointed in that one tbh.

     

     

    Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet, as someone once said.

  13. FRIESDORFER on 31ST JULY 2020 1:11 PM

     

     

    Decent article with a few varied strands. I do take issue though with the premise that Newclub (not Newco as you constantly refer to) would have wo the league if they had won the games mentioned. My recollection is that Celtic were 2 points ahead in the league at the break, and still had 2 games to play v the Newclub. So the outcome was entirely in our hands.

     

    ____

     

     

    Paul’s technically right. They finished with 67 points over 29 games. Averaging 2.31 a game.

     

     

    If they won all those games it would have been 80 over 29 games. Obviously superior on points per game to our 80 points over 30 games.

     

     

    But I think the point is fairly silly. As Gino D’Acampo famously said “If my Grandmother had wheels she would have been a bike.”

     

     

    “If Rangers won all those games they dropped points in they would have been champs”

     

     

    So what? They didn’t.

  14. Paul 67,

     

     

    A lot of points there to consider.

     

    My pick is the £5 million paid for a goalkeeper. This is a remarkable spend at this time. There is no doubt that the remarkable display of support from the fans helped broker this deal.

     

     

    I really like Odsonne Edouard in the new green kit. I am looking forward to seeing him wearing it in competitive action.

     

     

    HH to all.

  15. Why worry? We are 9 times champions and Have better players than Sevco. We have more resources and pre-season has shown, we have strength in depth. Often performances by our Reserves was better than the first11. Neil is a proven winner unlike the other team. If they lose their top striker then they will struggle to compete. 10 in a row it is then!

  16. prestonpans bhoys on

    While I’m still waiting for this Aberfoyle heatwave😵😱. Thought I would do some arithmetic on potential match game losses, all speculative of course,:

     

     

    Match day tickets 5000@£30= £150,000

     

    Food&drink 30,000@£5 = £150,000

     

    Programme 25,000@£2.50=£62,500

     

    Corp 1000@£150= £150,000

     

     

    All guesses and don’t know if matchday virtual tickets are a go but a tidy sum lost , off set by modest police savings etc

  17. Melbourne Mick on

    Hello again all you young rebels.

     

     

    EDDIEINKIRKMICHAEL

     

    Nice to see you on here Eddie not heard from you in a while.

     

    Obviously haven’t heard or seen Emma for a few months now

     

    but will mail her now, if she is still in Oz that is.

     

    Hope you and the missus are well during this horrible time.

     

    H.H. Mick

  18. FAVOURITE UNCLE on

    Craig Moore: Rangers need a settled central defence and three strikers to stop Celtic completing 10-In-A-Row

     

     

    So that’s approx £200 million of season ticket money gone .What do they spend the rest on.????

  19. Fail to make the Champions League will result in one of our top players being sold

     

     

    That’s the business model

  20. Eddie

     

     

    My point, as you know only to well, is that while we continue to have sporadic outbreaks throughout the UK it would be irresponsible for any organisation to encourage travel outwith their immediate area. Do you really think that someone with a season that was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to go to Celtic Park would decline due to the pandemic? The risks imo would be to great at the present time given that many areas of the UK have higher infection rates at present than when we first went into lockdown. I get that we all want to see our team in the flesh but if even limited crowds meant we put even 1 life at risk then that is to high a price to pay.

     

     

    We are encouraging Scots to have a staycation in Scotland. Those going from the populated Central Belt to the Islands, Far North or the Borders will be travelling euivalent distances to your Lancashire/ Yorkshire analaogy and they will be travelling from more infected areas to less infected ones. But that is not being restricted, as yet. The vast majority of those who attend are from much nearer and, as an exercise in selection of small crowds, we could have the first 3 weeks of allowed attendance to be selected exclusively from those within the Glasgow area, with the expectation that others will get their turn, at the initial crowd’s expense, if their has not been a significant resurgance. My hard to answer question remains- why keep the crowd to nothing?

     

     

     

     

    Your comment about M74, are you implying that I’m racist? Seriously disappointed in that one tbh.

     

     

    Nothing you have written before gave that impression. Yet many Independence -minded people defended Sean Clerkin and his mates as they sailed into those dangerous waters. I think I am entitled to point out that it was you that used English based Celtic travellers, when those based in Dingwall and Aberdeen could have served just as well.

     

     

    But as I said- all of this can be controlled with a small enough crowd from a small enough area. Are the risks really so large that we can’t have 500 Celts and 20 Accies fans at CP on Sunday, 200 Dons fans and 30 Sevco fans at Aberdeen.

     

     

    Or do we have to wait until Scotland play Israel or Norway till we see restrictions suddenly lifted?

  21. Melbourne Mick on

    Embody else thinking like me that MOI will be the top

     

    scorer in the SPFL this year?

     

    Just a hunch, and Griff a close second.

     

    H.H. Mick

  22. I’m not at all confident we’ll get through the CL qualifying, being something of a slave to statistics (the reason I never buy a lottery ticket, imagine picking numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6; then consider whichever combination you do select is just as likely as this).

     

     

    Considering the likelihood of winning per round, together with the cumulative probability, let’s break down each successive round. This is based on likely qualifying teams and coefficients in the website below. For each round I’ve taken an average coefficient of the potential opponents, and calculated a probability of progressing.

     

     

    https://kassiesa.net/uefa/seedcl2020.html

     

     

    1St qualifying round – Average coefficient of potential opponents is 3.06, Celtic’s coef is 34, the ratio between the two is 11.1, which equates to a 92% probability of Celtic progressing, ie. on average Celtic would beat these opponents 9 out of 10 times. No problems so far.

     

     

    2nd qualifying round – Average coef of potential opponents is 7.09, with a coef ratio to Celtic of 4.79. Celtic’s probability of winning this match is 83%. Note this is where the cumulative effect kicks in, in prob theory the prob of consecutive independent events occurring is prob1 x prob2. So chances of winning _both_ 1st and 2nd round is 92% x 83%, which is 76%. Still entirely doable and not much of a concern yet.

     

     

    3rd qualifying round – This is where it’s historically got tricky and for good reason. Average coef of opponents is 18.45, with a Celtic ratio of 1.84, so you can see the gap closing. Celtic still have a good chance to win this one-off game, at 65%, but here comes the cumulative probability. Celtic’s chance of winning all three games is now 92% x 83% x 65%, which is 49%. It’s incredibly borderline but statistically, this is the point you’d expect Celtic to exit the CL.

     

     

    Play-off round – Avg coef of opponents is 26.36, a ratio to Celtic of 1.29, not much in it at all. Celtic’s chance of winning this game alone is 56%. And the cumulative chance of winning all 4, a depressing 28%.

     

     

    It’s not all bad news, probability theory is a snapshot of the circumstances at the time, and can be incredibly fickle and fluid. Once you win that first game you wipe the slate clean and re-calculate the probabilities, because the circumstances have changed. Our 28% chance of qualifying means we should probably expect to qualify once every 3 or 4 years…….wait a minute, when did we last get to the CL group stage?

  23. Melbourne Mick on

    SONSOFERIN

     

     

    Phew… took me a while to take all that in but fair do’s

     

    I prefer to think, we are Celtic and the odds or percentages mean

     

    feck all to a club where miracles do happen.

     

    H.H. Mick

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