Quantcast

State of the Club Report, 2020

538

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.

Click Here for Comments >
Share.

About Author

538 Comments

  1. I’m knackered watching AOW’s video 😂

     

     

    You might just have inspired me though to get aff na fat arse and get a bike as that looks enjoyable and different from former years of football training and subsequent and now continuous battle to lose weight and get fitter.

     

     

    Junior David 66 paid about £4K for to bikes (1 mountain and 1 Racer/road) and goes out on them quite regularly I might purchase a bike of my own and join him.

     

     

    Mon the celts.

     

     

    D :)

  2. My good lady (God bless her!) is 62 today.

     

     

    I was 71 0n my birthday in April.

     

     

    Both ages have a nice ring to them!

     

     

    C’MON THE CELTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

  3. Philbhoy – pass on the Garngads best wishes to your good lady.

     

     

    🎂🍾🍻🥂

     

     

    HH

     

     

    D :)

  4. Philbhoy 12.13pm

     

     

    Always knew Mrs PB was much younger looking than you :-)

     

     

    Tell the good lady many many happy returns

  5. SS – that strip is an absolute cracker and by the way has wee Jamsie been on the spray tan?😂😂😂

     

     

    HH

     

     

    D :)

  6. Decisions, Decisions.

     

     

    Go out and watch the game in the pub or watch at home.

     

     

    Re social distancing: Mrs Greenpinata and her pals had a ” girly” day / night out in Glasgow yesterday . She stated coming home was a nightmare. Waited ages in the taxi rank with no social distancing observed.

     

    Previously Late night drinking establishments helped alleviate this. All closing together is not good.

     

    I feel more and more we either shut everywhere down with all the pain that entails or we rely on a natural selection with all available precautions in place, ( so called herd immunity .

     

     

    I really don’t know anymore what is best.

     

     

    HH to all.

  7. Melbourne Mick on

    Hello again all you young rebels.

     

     

    Are ye awe oan tenterhooks waiting for our big season to start?

     

    I can’t wait although it’s another middle of the night shot for us.

     

    Bring on Celtic flag day

     

    H.H. Mick

     

    Happy Birthday PHILBHOY’s good lady.

  8. Melbourne Mick on

    GREENPINATA

     

     

    We’ve just moved into stage 4 lockdown with more severe restrictions.

     

    Another 6 weeks of singing to my plants.

     

    Suppose the only thing I can say about the Covid is it’s cured my lifelong

     

    fear of becoming an alcoholic, that’s long gone.

     

    Now where did I leave my bottle of rid biddy..hic.

     

    H.H. Mick

  9. GREENPINATA

     

    Spike in Aberdeen traced to a city centre pub. As long as pubs are open they become places to congregate – alcohol and social distancing don’t go together.

  10. Greenpinata – MM – house for me today as working in the morning and a 4.30 kick off doesn’t go down well now I’m in my 50’s, gone are the days for me drinking to all hours then going into work, feck that.

     

     

    A few mates are coming to mine for the game and a wee, wee, swally.😂 bet we are still sitting here at 11pm😂🍺 only kidding fergusslayedtheblues if your lurking.

     

     

    Com on the Tic.

     

     

    D :)

  11. Melbourne Mick on

    DAVID 66

     

     

    You know very well what happens once the happy juice passes

     

    the lips.

     

    Fergusslayedtheblues beware lol.

     

    H.H. Mick

  12. GP & Gene

     

     

    Totally agree regarding the boozers, I attended our local beer garden 6pm-10pm on the 17th & 1pm-5pm on the 18th… staff were excellent, contactless payment excellent, but when alcohol is involved people’s attitudes to “social distancing” change … not been in the boozer since, even though both days were most enjoyable … it’s a risky business … making my VST debut today from the comfort of my living room, hope I don’t jinx it for others :-)

  13. Gftb

     

    It’s not just the individual pubs – scenes in the centre of Manchester on Friday – no social distancing – apparently you are only supposed to go out with members of your own family there. Good luck with that.

  14. Happy Birthday to the child Bride Mrs. Philbhoy.

     

    Must pop over to my daughters place for a couple of hours as my eldest Grand Daughter is Sweet Sixteen today.

     

    Everybody has been pre-warned that I will be leaving Party for a couple of hours to return home & watch the game on my Telly, in My TV Room and on my Own,

     

    How else could I do justice to Jobo’s Competition.

     

     

    Today should have been party day, with a packed crowd, & a buzzing atmosphere , Sadly not to be last year I didn’t really like the ten in a row song as my mind was only fixed on 9.

     

    However I now consider the ten in a row totally legitimate song to be sung.

     

    We may be scattered all over the World but today we are all together in spirit.

     

    Let’s hope for a good game, a good live updates thread a few goals(for Celtic of course) but most importunity 3 points for the Champions.

  15. Guys,

     

     

    Additionally, the whole test and trace system relies on the honesty and integrity of an establishment’s patrons.

     

     

    I know many persons who do not give their correct names and contact details when signing in to occasional pubs.

     

     

    HH to all.

  16. !!Bada Bing!! on

    Barkas

     

     

    Frimpong

     

    Jullien

     

    Ajer

     

    Taylor

     

     

    Forrest

     

    Brown

     

    McGregor

     

    Christie

     

     

    Edouard

     

    El Younoussi

     

     

    Team rumour.

  17. Do Celtic get presented with the league flag or is it behind closed doors. ?

     

     

    HH to all.

  18. Gene 1.32pm

     

     

    Scary stuff at times .. me & the Mrs have been working as both “key workers” … people close to me probably think that’s quite ironic as they say am never at my work :-)

     

     

    End of March beginning of April the streets in Glasgow were scarily quiet, now they are even more scarily busy :-)

     

     

    Anyhow … at least Celtic are back today and hopefully everybody stays as safe as they can be …

     

     

    On a football point, I think the 5 subs is terrific for us … maybe keep the players who start on their toes

     

     

    Only a fool would predict a correct score so 5-0 for me today :-)

  19. Philbhoy

     

     

    That’s some age gap…where did you get hitched…the Southern states ? :O)

     

    Happy birthday to your good Lady.hh

  20. MM – exactly happy juice and The Famous Glasgow Celtic….lifes little pleasures.

     

     

    HH

     

     

    D :)

  21. SAINT STIVS on 1ST AUGUST 2020 11:51 PM

     

    Scrolling back, I noticed you had mentioned Jimmy Delaney. I never saw him play but those who did spoke of him in awe.

     

    BTW someone said that our coach, John Kennedy is his grandson. John was a potentially great player whose career was brutally ended.

  22. GP & David66

     

     

    Hope you haven’t put any money on your selections as they do say “a fool and his money are easily parted” am living proof of that saying :-)

     

     

    Corkcelt hope your granddaughter has a great birthday … be warned you might get a few unwanted “birthday” wishes for your good self from some on here

  23. Out of the first 5 games we have 1 at 3pm they are all 4.30pm or later.

     

     

    How to kill football.

     

     

    D :)

  24. !!Bada Bing!! on

    GREENPINATA on 2ND AUGUST 2020 1:40 PM

     

    Do Celtic get presented with the league flag or is it behind closed doors. ?

     

     

     

     

     

     

    HH to all.

     

     

    Unfurled by Kim and Aggie…