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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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538 Comments

  1. GFTB – no cash on today.

     

     

    I have a feeling we will hit the ground running today and bang in a few.

     

     

    D :)

  2. Great to see Jackie Mac unfurling the flag….will feel a bit surreal…but hey ho, here we go….

  3. FRIESDORFER on 2ND AUGUST 2020 1:59 PM

     

    Cork Celt

     

     

    Hope your granddaughter has a great day.

     

    HH

     

    —————–

     

     

    Ditto. 🍰🎂

  4. Just heard Roddy (Debenture) Forsyth a wee while back on Radio 5. That Roddy is feeling the pain. Lord there aint no doubt about it. Roddy ventured down his own retro hypothetical road….

     

    “if the league had been called on January 1st, Rangers would have been champions”

     

    Roddy managed to maintain his professionalism, again on Radio 5, back in May 1998, when Celtic stopped his heroes eclipsing our record, but I’ve got a feeling he will not be able to handle it if we achieve 10 in a row.

     

    Let us take a step toward that this afternoon.

  5. David66 1.53pm

     

     

    Listening to both Neil & Broonys press conferences on Friday, I agree with you think we will put marker down today

     

     

    I quite like the 4.30pm kick offs, far better than lunchtime football (plus am no working the morra :-) So that does help

  6. looking forward to the match and the trophy presentation flag etc and the beginning of this long and winding road of a season which in the current climate will have many twists and turns. A srong team is out and wishing our new Greek giant in goal a successful debut.

     

     

    Great to see young Kieran Tierney doing well last evening and adding to his trophy cabinet even though I seldom cheer on an EPL team I was cheering the Arsenal yesterday.

  7. Ricky ex-Sev Forster on radio Scotland

     

     

    “Ryan Kent was the best player in the league a few seasons ago”

     

     

    :-) :-) :-)

     

     

    Delusional

  8. Go tell the Spartim on

    Ah the good ole BBC, if they called the league today Hibs would win it. He really needs to be called out, he’s no more qualified to comment on the “impartial” BBC than Jimmy Crankie.

     

     

    This the same BBC that on their transfer page has no mention at all of VB signing, quality journalism, just another example of how poor an industry and the dropping of standards in this day and age. We’ll be top tonight and that will hurt them more

     

     

    KTF

  9. My first memory of Celtic fans was in Glasgow after a game singing ‘Magic’ . I was fascinated by the long haired lhouts and wanted to be like them. Something fell over inside my mother that day as she realised I wasn’t going to support Scotland only!! A futile plan

     

     

    Here’s hoping for a rip snorting first quarter to the season and burn them off

     

     

    If yesterday was them ‘flying out the blocks’ then we have it i our own hands to deliver the 10

  10. onenightinlisbon on

    Best wishes to the hoops today.

     

     

    Wonder if so many on here would be lining up to congratulate the rat if he had won the FA cup with Leicester?

  11. What upsets me most about the BBC is the way they are investigating and condemning fake news whether it be in politics or covid and yet their sports section continues to spout the same club myth. What happened to upholding honestly and truth in reporting.

  12. Celtic: ‘Champions overwhelming favourites to land 10th straight title’

     

     

    By Tom English

     

     

    BBC Scotland

     

     

    Neil Lennon aims to lead Celtic to an unprecedented 10th successive Scottish top-flight title this term

     

     

    From A for Armstrong to Z for Zaluska, almost 120 Celtic players have contributed in some way or another to the nine-in-a-row years. The vast majority are long gone, with just the privileged few in place to try to finish the job they started in a time before the invention of the self-driving car.

     

     

    The fact that Celtic have motored to this point is lost on nobody in Scotland. It may have limited (to no) interest among fans of the other clubs, who are probably already sick to death of hearing about this, but there will be no avoiding the narrative in the months ahead.

     

     

    In truth, there’s been no avoiding it for years now. It’s hard to recall when, exactly, Celtic fans first started singing about the blessed 10-in-a-row but it feels like they’ve been at it since Ledley, Loovens and Lassad were cutting about the place.

     

     

    Only one more to go now and history will be theirs. Bragging rights doesn’t even come close to covering it. In memory of past glory, Celtic folk illuminate their own stadium in the 67th minute of games to honour the Lisbon Lions.

     

     

    If the current group of players power on and win another league title, the phones will be out of the pockets in the 10th minute too, from now till eternity, especially when Rangers are the opposition. Football fans don’t tend to miss open goals when it comes to winding up their nearest rival.

     

     

    Celtic have the European Cup, the invincible season, the treble treble. Maybe they’ll soon have the quadruple treble. If they get the 10-in-a-row to boot there’ll be no hiding place for Rangers fans. For them, the reverie will be hard to take. You won’t hear them protesting about tainted titles or the asterisk years for all the whooping and hollering from their counterparts in green.

     

     

    ‘Lennon has made a strong outfit better’

     

     

    For Celtic, it all begins on Sunday with a visit from Hamilton. Put down the magnifying glass and wheel in the telescope and it’s still difficult to see how they’re going to fail in their bid for 10, not unless the quality of the team and the strength of the mentality disintegrates.

     

     

    To prosecute a case against Celtic being the overwhelming favourites to win the league you need evidence – and there isn’t a lot to go on.

     

     

    A mass exodus of their best players might do it, but it’s unlikely. Complacency? It’s difficult to see how they’re going to lose sight of their surroundings while they have Scott Brown, Callum McGregor, James Forrest and others in the ranks.

     

     

    Lennon has already sent a brutal message to Leigh Griffiths that slackness will be met with a thunderous response. Not only did he publicly call out his striker, but he also appeared to up his pursuit of another goalscorer, Ivan Toney.

     

     

    The manager does not have the appearance of a man who’s messing about here. He’s been one of the great figures of the club over the past two decades and the crowning glory is in sight.

     

     

    Lennon has tweaked what Brendan Rodgers created, but the upshot is the same thing. Celtic score buckets of goals and they win. They’re scoring more now than they did under Rodgers, apart from in his first season in 2016-17.

     

     

    If anything, they were more entertaining last season than in the two seasons that went before. Lennon has taken a strong outfit and has made them better.

     

     

    Last season, every time they suffered a bump on the road, they responded. When they lost 2-0 at Livingston in October, they won 11 in a row after it. When they lost 2-1 to Rangers in December, they reeled off eight straight wins in its wake. They dropped two points in their last 10 games.

     

     

    ‘Gerrard needs managerial Miracle in Istanbul’

     

     

    There’s been much talk about Rangers imploding after the winter break last season – and they did. Might Celtic’s relentless form have had something to do with it? Probably.

     

     

    After that loss to Rangers, Lennon’s team found their very best stuff. They scored 34 goals in 10 league games. Odsonne Edouard got nine, Griffiths seven, McGregor six. Even centre-back Christopher Jullien got three, which was three more than Alfredo Morelos. Jullien scored the same number of goals as Rangers’ top league scorer – Scott Arfield – in that period.

     

     

    In the heat of the battle, their players stood up. Even when the season was called with eight games left to play, Celtic had amassed more league points and more league goals than they did in the completed season of 2018-19.

     

     

    This is a very good Celtic side. The home and away wins over Lazio offered evidence of what they’re capable of on a higher stage. The wasteful loss to Copenhagen showed that they’re a still a work in progress in that regard.

     

     

    When Celtic finished off last season with a 5-0 thumping of St Mirren, their domestic strength could be seen not just in the 11 players who started that match but in the ones who came off the bench – or who never even found a place on it.

     

     

    Ryan Christie, Mohamed Elyounoussi and Hatem Abd Elhamed all appeared as second-half substitutes when Celtic were already 3-0 ahead. Those who played no part at all included Olivier Ntcham, Jeremie Frimpong, Mikey Johnston, Boli Bolingoli and Patryk Klimala, their £3.5m Polish striker.

     

     

    Some of their more promising young players – Karamoko Dembele, Ewan Henderson, Scott Robertson – weren’t required. A few other recruits – Ismaila Soro and Vakoun Issouf Bayo – didn’t kick a ball that day either.

     

     

    New rules stipulate that all Premiership teams will be allowed to field five substitutes this season. That only plays into the hands of the club with the best squad – Celtic.

     

     

    Their first title in this run was finished off with a 5-0 win over Hearts in May 2012, Gary Hooper scoring all five goals. When the coming season ends in May 2021, it won’t be Hooper doing the damage, but it’s likely to be somebody wearing the same colours.

     

     

    Rangers are a threat, no question, but Celtic look to have too much in too many departments. Steven Gerrard might prove us wrong, but if it does he’s going to need the managerial equivalent of Liverpool’s Miracle in Istanbul in 2005 to pull it off.

     

     

    Lennon has a long road ahead of him, but it would be a major surprise if there’s not something special waiting at the end of it.

  13. KT & BR are totally different scenarios, in my opinion … and funnily enough in hindsight BR leaving could turn out to be a defining point in our history

     

     

    Neil & (hopefully) the 10 🍀

  14. FAVOURITE UNCLE on

    Aaron Hickey: Bayern Munich, Bologna & Aston Villa chasing Hearts kid with Rangers favourite for his signature .SOURCES at BRISTOL BAR.

  15. Like so many players and managers BR played a part in our fantastic football clubs history and then he was gone we gave him the platform to shine. He should be ever grateful to us.

     

     

    But our club is still here hopefully making more history.

     

     

    HH

     

     

    D :)

  16. GREENPINATA on 2ND AUGUST 2020 12:58 PM

     

    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.

     

     

    Greenpinata I know with all this BS going on via the manipulated BBC Scaremongering/Project 21/ & the

     

    No World Order always wanting project to push through their hidden agenda of a one world society

     

    with no “Democracy” but instead a one world Government & a oppressed & hypnotised people mind

     

    set full of crap where things can only get worse instead of better aye BS these fanny’s need to be really

     

    exposed for what they are up too on the fly we & I mean everyone out there can nip this bullshit

     

    scaremongering in the bud once & for all having to wear face nappies & stand six feet apart how

     

    pathetic & how ridiculous this is & also being denied access after paying good hard earned money

     

    & being forced to watch live events via perscription TV instead of being allowed to attend in person

     

    is bang out of order all due to some so called virus that is no more dangerous than Sars or the

     

    Influenza check the real true death figures insted of made up totals in-fact these so called numbers

     

    can be manipulted & lied upon & doctor can write/type down anything on a death certificate &

     

    that is a fact as mentioned the truth is out there if one does some research for example all one

     

    has to do is type “Leonard Ulrich” on the YouTube search column & check out NWO & Biblical

     

    Prophacy that nearly two & half hour video was posted eight years ago in 2012 funny how what

     

    he stated back then is all now coming to fruition & while one is @ it (YouTube Research) also

     

    check out an old man in a chair (www.vermoncoleman.com) & watch/listen/hear/read/& digest

     

    Also an open mind helps instead of a closed one as mentioned folks we should all wake up &

     

    be aware of what is really going down like reading between the lines do not & I repeat do not

     

    be easly foolled & suffer fools gladly I rest the truth of what is really going down for the time

     

    being laters Folks & COYBIG

  17. Today’s starting line up v Hamilton ……

     

    Bain; Frimpong, Jullien, Ajer, Taylor; Brown, McGregor, Forrest, Christie, Elyounoussi, Edouard

     

    Subs: Barkas, ElHamed, Bitton, Bolingoli, Soro, Rogic, Ntcham, Dembele, Klimala

  18. Bhoyjoebelfast on

    For those with access to TG4 Christy Moore tonight at 9.30 recorded at Barrowland,also in attendance Declan Sinnott.

  19. No Griff out of 9 subs ???

     

     

    I know Neil suggested he was maybe not starting but thought sure a wee run out for last 30mins

     

     

    Ah well … still a cracking subs bench

     

     

    Thought Barkas might have started but maybe Neil just making sure Scott Bain knows he is still part of the team

  20. FAVOURITE UNCLE on 2ND AUGUST 2020 2:49 PM

     

    Aaron Hickey: Bayern Munich, Bologna & Aston Villa chasing Hearts kid with Rangers favourite for his signature .SOURCES at BRISTOL BAR.

     

     

    What Favourite Uncle wow this Jam Farts/The Wee Huns new wonder Kid on the Block another

     

    Messi aye no right the numpty who typed this rubbish aye & Sevco (the money launderers accepters)

     

    must have had one too many in the Bristol Bar no doubt he will soon be spewing all over a certain

     

    ridiculous painted face on the floor due to too much poision intake funny how he mentions three

     

    clubs however the mighty Sevco International will get there new wonder kid aye that’s because

     

    they are the only ones interested in this new found wonder kid & no doubt the same said report

     

    will soon pop up on Sly Sports Sevco News

  21. AKBW1888 on 2ND AUGUST 2020 3:15 PM

     

    GREENPINATA on 2ND AUGUST 2020 12:58 PM

     

     

    Ha! By their friends ye shall know them. A Dominic Cummings acolyte and a total loon.

     

     

    A match made in heaven :-)

  22. FRANKTERRY on 2ND AUGUST 2020 3:34 PM

     

    AKBW1888 on 2ND AUGUST 2020 3:15 PM

     

    GREENPINATA on 2ND AUGUST 2020 12:58 PM

     

    Ha! By their friends ye shall know them. A Dominic Cummings acolyte and a total loon.

     

    A match made in heaven :-)

     

    FrankTerry

     

    What are you on about? a Dominic Cummings acolyte & total loons yeah okay u believe

     

    all the crap that is going down is fine & this will not lead to anything more than

     

    that yeah we will see what I’ve mentioned is nothing to do with its left or right politics

     

    its to do with what has happened in the past & what is happening @ present & what

     

    could happen in the future one should get their facts right before one makes sweeping

     

    & closed mind oppinions end of