State of the Club Report, 2020


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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    Where is the benefit to the economy in allowing fans to attend?



    If it exists at all it’s minimal.



    Might have been a different situation if it was pay at the gate, but it isn’t. The money has already been paid.



    Looking at it another way we are favourites in each tie with 56% being the lowest probability. Of course we haven’t factored in the single home or away ties which would alter the odds.

  3. Sons of Erin



    Good on you- I wish people would read and understand this – as it explains why a qualifying campaign against seemingly easier teams can and does go regularly wrong.



    I would accept a 50/50 split on home and away ties if we could get the first two rounds away from home with the last two at home?



    Is it definitely 4 rounds we have to negotiate this year?

  4. Depressed now.



    Sevco will get a fluky 1-0 win tomorrow and we draw 0-0 on Sunday.



    League is called over on Monday with them champs.

  5. Personally we have enough Strikers,I think our priority is defence ,especially a left back and a Centre Half.another winger would be a Winger.

  6. I should have posted this yesterday when there seemed a lot of pro independence posters. If you want independence then include the English voter – if my friends are anything to go by it will be a landslide.



    Other political views are available and welcomed.

  7. Perhaps like doctors appointments where the way forward seems to be online consultations football will follow.


    “Football with fans is too much trouble”


    Sir Matt Busby

  8. If you’ve heard the expression ” easy as shelling peas” well it isn’t easy


    Peapod pickers CSC

  9. SonsofErin


    Nothing beats a positive spin on the cusp of a new season. Can only hope that statistics, statistics etc etc. Best wishes to you.



  10. BHOYLO83 on 31ST JULY 2020 2:09 PM


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



    That’s the business model






    If we make the CL and the right bids for Eddy, Ajer, and Ntcham come in they will be off anyway.



    Neil Lennon has always backed himself to rebuild a squad on the fly.

  11. Gene – Yes, there are reasons to be cheerful. The website also assumes the favourites progressing in each round, which we know rarely happens, so the avg coefficient of opponents for each round can only go down. Bear in mind though this applies just as much to Celtic.



    SFTB – I can’t claim the IP, I think it was either you or TBB who did a similar analysis last year. I just thought “I’m going to get in before those chancers this time” 😉



    According to that site it’s 3 one-off qualifying rounds plus the two legged play-off. I actually think the seeded team should be automatically drawn at home for the one-off rounds, but then I would!

  12. Sonsoferin


    That’s the first time Gene and cheerful have appeared in the same sentence. Even the Monkees told me to cheer up.😱

  13. Was half expecting to see Bayo going on loan to Aberdeen and him scoring the winner tomorrow.

  14. I think Paul is being very generous to Sevco in giving them a 30% chance of winning this league title.



    They have a squad of players that has won nothing. They don’t have our quality or experience. Gerrard is an under 18s coach hired for his name.



    If we’re looking at losing tens of millions then they’ll almost certainly go bust.



    Covid is a big worry but Sevco are not.

  15. prestonpans bhoys on

    SONSOFERIN on 31ST JULY 2020 2:26 PM



    Thanks for that, very interesting stats indeed👏👏👏

  16. eddieinkirkmichael on

    Melbourne Mick


    Emma came home at start of lockdown, I won’t bore you with the story but I think you can guess. She got a job back here with BAE systems down South Street within 2 weeks of being back.


    She is still hopeful of getting her visa approved.though could do with a few character references if you Paddy would be interested in helping her out.

  17. eddieinkirkmichael on



    Have there been any new restrictions put in place due to new outbreaks in Dingwall or Aberdeen? I think you know the reason why I chose the areas I did and I also think you deliberately tried to make my post appear anti English, for what reason only you can know.



    Maybe I should read more Aristotle and I’ll understand your reasoning a bit more.

  18. Fed up hearin’ the Huns will regress……………..defunkt etc etc…………


    really want to see padlocks on that shameful gate and weeds growin’ around thur front door.



    How are they payin’ the basic bils……..never mind wages and the big stuff.


    Surely the timber and asbestos must be creakin’ like hell!?




  19. Dallas Dallas where the heck is Dallas on

    Bognorbhoy at 10.03 this morning. Thanks for your post about it being Sean Fallon’s 98th birthday today. In my opinion , one of the most important people in our club’s history.



    Sean’s work as scout , coach and assistant manager was incredible.

  20. Huns are easily the second best team in the League, up against anyone but us they would be favourites to win each individual game, as indeed are we against the same opposition.


    So what will split is our head to head consistency against the other teams & our direct head to heads.


    No matter how superior you are against other SPFL teams you simply won’t win all your games.


    There will be the day the opposition Keeper has a blinder, the day you pick up a red card, the day you can;t break down a massed defense.


    If it wasn’t like that then what would be the point in following football at all.


    There needs to be a bit of worry at times, there needs to be knots in your stomach, and there needs to be pure joy when your team comes out on top.


    I genuinely don’t subscribe to the mantra that the Huns are pish and we will walk this League.


    I think we are the better team & better squad & I believe we will win the League but we will need to work hard on the pitch to do it.


    First test is Accies on Sunday, one game at a time.


    Bring it on.i

  21. !!Bada Bing!! on

    New Glasgow digital radio station, Go Radio, Football Show starts tonight at 5pm,hosted by Paul Cooney.

  22. My Chinese friend said he had opened a Crows shop, I said you mean clothes shop. He said no come and have a rook.

  23. eddieinkirkmichael on




    Travel to North West of England



    Published: 31 Jul 2020 11:30


    Part of: Coronavirus in Scotland


    Increase in COVID-19 cases means travel should be avoided.



    People living in Scotland are being advised to avoid travel to areas in northern England facing new lockdown restrictions after a spike in coronavirus (COVID-19) cases.



    Travel between Scotland and Greater Manchester, East Lancashire and parts of West Yorkshire should only be undertaken if absolutely essential.



    Anyone currently in the affected areas does not need to return to Scotland early but should be extra vigilant in monitoring for symptoms and following the FACTS guidance both during their stay and when they return home.



    The First Minister chaired a meeting of SGORR, the Scottish Government’s Resilience Committee, following an update from the Prime Minister to the four nations on the decision to introduce new measures to control the spread of the virus in the affected areas.



    First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:



    “I’m grateful to the Prime Minister for the update on the recent developments in the North West of England and all four nations agreed on the importance of sharing localised information as we work together to continue to suppress the virus.



    “We have always been clear that localised flare ups are likely as we continue to suppress the virus but by responding quickly and appropriately we can limit the effect these have on wider transmission.



    “I strongly advise anyone planning to travel to areas affected in the north of England, or anyone planning to travel to Scotland from those same areas, to cancel their plans.



    “Anyone whose travel is essential should follow public health advice at all times including the FACTS guidance and remain extra vigilant in monitoring for symptoms.”






    Affected local areas:



    Greater Manchester: City of Manchester, Trafford, Stockport, Oldham, Bury, Wigan, Bolton, Tameside, Rochdale, Salford


    Lancashire: Blackburn with Darwen, Burnley, Hyndburn, Pendle, Rossendale


    West Yorkshire: Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees

  24. IniquitousIV on

    SONSOFERIN @ 2:26


    Excellent analysis! If we are disciplined and organized, I think we could survive even away ties in Rounds 1 and 2. Without looking too far ahead, and jinxing us, Round 3 is where the luck of the draw becomes critical. Based on past history, I do not think we would survive an away draw to Red Star Belgrade, Qarabag, Legia (who have a bone to settle with us), Tel Aviv or Molde. With a home draw, I would be more hopeful.



    If we assume success for the moment, Round 4 may be a bridge too far, especially if were to draw Dinamo Zagreb or Slavia Prague. Either Astana or Ludogorets would offer grounds for some optimism.



    Given the huge difference in earning potential between the CL and the EL, I think we should go for it. We should replace Simunovich with a left sided center back and upgrade at full back. We also need a system where we are well organized without the ball and do not leave acres of space between the midfield and defence, like we did versus Copenhagen and Cluj. Whether that is by asking Broony to sit very deep in front of his centerbacks, or by drafting someone in to help him out, I do not know.



    I must admit to be concerned about the apparent simultaneous pursuit of Ajeti and Toney, and the implications for the immediate future of Odsonne. Losing him would be a huge blow, and a major psychological boost for the Bigotdome. Don’t let him go, Celtic.

  25. GENE on 31ST JULY 2020 2:45 PM


    I should have posted this yesterday when there seemed a lot of pro independence posters. If you want independence then include the English voter – if my friends are anything to go by it will be a landslide.




    Other political views are available and welcomed






    Hi Gene



    To clarify, do you mean English friends in England seeking to end the union?



    Or English friends in Scotland seeking to end the union (of which there are many such people)



    (FWIW I sincerely hope both groups get their wish!)




  26. Based on years and years and years of experience, I am going to say that Celtic will skoosh the league this season, that 2nd Rangers will implode early doors, that we will run away with it.



    Everybody at our club is too professional , too solid, too experienced, for it to fall any other way.

  27. Gene



    England sorely needs its independence to find its place in the world. It’s like a nation having a midlife crisis and looking at buying a Spitfire instead of a motorbike!



    Good nation. Great people by and large. Just a wee doolally at present!


    (Much like the rest of us!!!)



    Hope you’re well. Stay safe.



    HH jg

  28. Paoajoe55


    My Chinese friend said he had opened a Crows shop, I said you mean clothes shop. He said no come and have a rook.





    Apparently they’re raven about it

  29. Are my old brain cells melted in this heat






    Did we lose first two games of season when stopping ten



    Away loss to Hibs 2-1


    Loss home to Falkirk 2-0 or 2-1



    Was at both games just not sure if Falkirk was 2nd game

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