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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.

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  1. JC2

     

    I’m sure at the start of the season we were given little chance of stopping the 10 against the ebt oldclub

  2. Celtic FC Commercial@CFCCommercial ·8m

     

    Premium season tickets in Club Celtic and Executive Club are now sold out for season 20/21 – thank you for your incredible support Four leaf cloverGreen heartSmiling face

  3. greengray1967 on

    Just popped in briefly to wish Sean Fallon a happy heavenly 98 birthday.

     

     

    One of my most memorable moments on here was on his sad death in 2013 when someone came on and said he knew him well and remembered his dad! Absolutely amazed that someone could remember the dad of a 90 year old man, I realized that my own grandmother who was 91 at the time and I remembered her mum very well as she only died in 1986. Thankfully my grandmother is still very much with us at a healthy 98 (99 in Dec) and can still buy and sell us all!

     

     

    Stay safe everyone

  4. So players are going as well as coming in, I just hope this board do not sanction the complete destabilisation of the first team , few of the squad last year were played much so dont have the experience, do not underestimate the need for experience especially as the media tv radio papers will be wholeheartedly behind anyone playing against Celtic, there will be noise smoke anger complaints conspiracies probably within the first month, our club will need to be focussed like never before to block all this out, no stupid off field stuff please and speak only about our club when on media duties.

  5. Sure written Off by everyone else

     

    and after start most of us as well

     

    Remember leaving Pars game( obviously not that well as i thought Falkirk)

     

    Feeling as low as a Celtic fan as i had ever felt.

     

     

     

     

    GENE on 31ST JULY 2020 5:09 PM

     

    JC2

     

     

    I’m sure at the start of the season we were given little chance of stopping the 10 against the ebt oldclub

  6. prestonpans bhoys on

    Another case for Mike Askley

     

     

    Its official launch will be on Saturday, with the Gers players wearing it for the first time against Aberdeen in the first Premiership fixture of the season.

     

     

    The online store will also be launched ahead of the match, with the revamped site going live at 9am.

  7. weebobbycollins on

    Steve Carson from Belfast new head of bbc Scotland. Anyone know anything about him?

  8. Jamesgang,

     

     

    You speak sense and are the acceptable face of the home nations going their own way.

     

    Unfortunately not all are like you and I fear more hatred and division along the way.

     

     

    I hope CQN can keep our heads when all around us are going mad.

     

     

    Cheers and HH.

  9. rangers matched us last season and in fact got their noses in front half way through. The bottom line is their key striker went off the boil and they lost momentum. If they sell Morelos and replace him with a couple of strikers – Maja/Toney/Dykes eg , they will be more of a threat throughout the season. no doubt in my mind.

     

     

    Secondly, despite Celtics dominance in the second half of the season , I still thought we looked vulnerable at the back – teams were creating chances and not always finishing.

     

     

    I think the season will be settled on hot strikers – including depth! oh and the usual dodgy decisions already preempted by the refs and fewer media coverage!

  10. WEEBOBBYCOLLINS on 31ST JULY 2020 5:36 PM

     

    Steve Carson from Belfast new head of bbc Scotland. Anyone know anything about him?

     

    —————————

     

    Carson…..HUN!

  11. Greenpinata

     

    The people to whom I referred are just fed up of the whole independence ‘ will they won’t they’ – if Scotland want to go then good luck to them.

     

    There’s no malice involved.

  12. EddieinKirkmichael

     

     

    Just back in

     

     

    “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.”

     

     

    You are wrong about my omniscience on your unspoken rational. Why mention the fans stopping at garages or pubs or restaurants if the concern was that they CAME from a high infection area- that is enough to stop them going anywhere – not just CP.

     

     

    There’s a hotspot currently nearby in Inverclyde. We had one in North Lanarkshire recently at the Testing Centre, and we had an outbreak in Dumfries and Galloway at the beginning of July which was sufficient to send Sean Clerkin and pals, dressed as Robert The Bruce, to guard the A74.

     

     

    If your point was about travel from Covid Hotspots then that could have been specified instead of assuming everyone would know what Lancashire and Yorkshire was code for.

     

     

    Even then, that too can be controlled by restricting the invites from balloted attendees to areas not currently at a high rate. These things are manageable in small enough numbers without invoking the thin end of the wedge argument- fear of heavy drinking (refuse entry), fear of spacing being ignored (chuck them out-shops do it), or widespread community infection caused by small attendances at CP. (make them smaller).

     

     

    Does anyone know if there is a limit on the offiial numbers attending the match?

     

     

    Will unstripped reserves be seated in the stand?

     

     

    Will match reporters view the match?

     

     

    Will a replacement official be allowed in the event of one of the officials getting writer’s cramp from booking Celtic players?

     

     

    How much of an entourage are Hamilton allowed?

     

     

    How large a backroom team can Celtic bring?

     

     

    Why are the league officials who accompany the flag ceremony allowed to attend at a time of Covid?

     

     

    We may already have around 100 people gathering together, some of whom are not strictly necessary (Neil Doncaster)- but not even one Celtic supporting Charlie Bucket gets a golden ticket from the Wonky Willies in charge.

     

     

    And it is possible to find errors being committed in the Scottish Government and it is useful to hold them to account on this without being accused of being a paid shill, a mouthpiece, a dissident or a traitor to your Nationality.

  13. agree that this season will be won by the hot strikers goals for and not goals against , go and get Ivan you know it makes sense .

  14. Stephen Carson is married to Miriam Ó Callaghan, one of RTÉ’s leading broadcasters. Her brother is a Fianna Fáil TD (MP).

  15. prestonpans bhoys on

    Almore

     

     

    I’m sure Master Carson will have interesting conversations with the BBC Scotland sports Department😂 then😱

  16. weebobbycollins on

    We will judge Mr Carson soon enough…

     

    Meanwhile, we’ll be watching closely…👀

  17. STEBHOY on 31ST JULY 2020 5:51 PM

     

     

    teams make chances, its football not sure we let teams have any more chances than usual usual.

     

     

    If sevco manage to bring in 2 strikers who hit the ground running they will have more chance of winning the league, correct, same goes for aberdeen, hibs or celtic etc also normal for players’ form to fluctuate over the course of a season.

     

     

    I would prefer we get a left sided centreback and leftback, looks like strikers is being sought. No doubt we will sell a player or 2, but again it’s normal.

     

     

    We might win and we might lose vut no matter what we will never become a support that consists of a whole load of bigoted racist cunts. In that regard we are always winners

     

     

    HH

  18. Evening all

     

     

    BRRB – from previous thread happy 60th Mrs BRRB.🎂🎂🎂

     

     

    D :)

  19. GuyFawkesaforeverhero on

    Almore on 31st July 2020 7:16PM

     

     

    Six degrees of separation to Dermot Desmond. One down, five to go.

     

    —————————————————————————————————–

     

     

    Not looking great for baseball, one week into the new season. Three games covid tonight.

     

     

    ICYMI = in case you missed it. Yes, I did miss that memo. Been bugging me for months what it could mean.

  20. eddieinkirkmichael on

    SFTB

     

    The outbreaks you referred to in Scotland didn’t result in any further restrictions, but you knew this. The ones I referred to have so that’s where my concern came from which is a perfectly reasonable concern as opposed to being anti English or Racist which frankly I find amazing that anyone could jump to that conclusion based on what was posted. Your linking my concern with the M74 incident I find deeply disturbing.

     

     

    The points you make re who will be in attendance do however raise other issues that have been discussed on twitter today. According to some the hospitality areas, Wilfred Restaurant in particular, are to be utilised on Sunday. I don’t know whether there is any truth in this though as it is a licensed restaurant what would stop Celtic FC from using it for that purpose on match day? I would sincerely hope this isn’t the case but this is Celtic Plc we are talking about so who knows.

     

     

    I find fault with the Scots Government all the time and have no issue with calling them out despite the inevitable pile on from Nats on twitter. However in this instance I support the restrictions in place at sporting events and other social events.

     

    My view remains, based on what the so called experts say, that we are not out of danger from a recurrence of major outbreaks and while we all can cite the hypocrisy of some decisions made by politicians re pubs restaurants ect, having to wait just another few weeks before limited crowds are allowed into stadia is not to much of a burden.

     

    If Paul67 has any specific scientific evidence that counters or enhances the advice of the likes of Devi Sridhar to help the Gov form their response re opening of Stadia I’m sure they would surely welcome it.

  21. GREENGRAY1967 on 31ST JULY 2020 5:12 PM

     

    Just popped in briefly to wish Sean Fallon a happy heavenly 98 birthday.

     

     

     

    One of my most memorable moments on here was on his sad death in 2013 when someone came on and said he knew him well and remembered his dad!

     

    ***********

     

    When my oldest brother moved to Glasgow for studies and work he moved into the Fallons for digs. One of the most humble of men you could imagine. What a man. I didn’t really appreciate just how much a hero he was until I saw the Iron Man documentary.

  22. lets all do the huddle on

    dont care what any politician says

     

     

    ive booked my fortnights holiday in Blackburn and im not missing it

  23. A Nun walks into Mother Superior’s Office and plunks down into a chair.

     

    She lets out a sigh, heavy with frustration.

     

    “What troubles you, Sister?” asked Mother Superior.

     

    “I thought this was the day you spent with your Family?”

     

    “It was,” sighed the Sister.

     

    “I went to play Golf with my Brother.

     

    We try to play Golf as often as we can.

     

    You know I was quite a talented Golfer before devoted my life to Christ.”

     

    “I seem to recall that,” Mother Superior agreed.

     

    “So I take it your day of Recreation was not relaxing?”

     

    “Far from it,” snorted the Sister.

     

    “In fact, I took the Lord’s name in Vain today!”

     

    “Goodness, Sister!” gasped Mother Superior, astonished.

     

    “You must tell me all about it!”

     

    “Well, we were on the Fifth tee and this hole is a monster, 540 yard par 5, with a nasty Dogleg right and a hidden Green and I hit the drive of my life.

     

    The sweetest swing I’ve ever made.

     

    It’s flying straight and true, right along the line I wanted and it hits a Bird in mid flight!”

     

    “Oh my!” comments the Mother Superior.

     

    “How unfortunate!

     

    But surely that didn’t make you Blaspheme, Sister!”

     

    “No, that wasn’t it,” admitted the Sister.

     

    “While was still trying to fathom what had happened, this Squirrel runs out of the woods, grabs my ball and runs off down the Fairway!”

     

    “Oh, that would have made me Blaspheme!” sympathized Mother Superior.

     

    “But I didn’t, Mother!” sobbed the Sister.

     

    “And I was so proud of myself!

     

    While I was pondering whether this was a sign from God, this Hawk swoops out of the sky and grabs the Squirrel and flies off, with my ball still clutched in his Paws!”

     

    “So that’s when you Cursed,” said Mother Superior with a knowing smile.

     

    “Nope, that wasn’t it either,” cried the Sister, anguished.

     

    “Because as the Hawk started to fly out of sight, the Squirrel started struggling, and the Hawk dropped him right there on the Green, and the ball popped out of his Paws and rolled to about 18 inches from the cup!”

     

    The Mother Superior sat back in her chair, folded her arms across her chest, fixed the Sister with a baleful stare and said, “You missed the F———g Putt, didn’t you?”HH

  24. Dallas Dallas where the heck is Dallas on

    Bognorbhoy, Greengray and Scaniel, I was delighted to be in Sean’s company a number of times, I stood silent each time. His speech as the special guest at the Glasgow University CSC twentieth Anniversary dinner in 1989 had us all close to tears, it was that emotional and powerful.

     

     

    The last time I met Sean was outside Celtic Park the Sunday after Tommy passed away. Sean was there with his son and his son. He was resplendent in his Celtic suit. He was very upset at the loss of Tommy . Sean’s humility despite everything he had done and success associated with him , was inspiring.

  25. Pilot spectator events in England have been put on hold following an increase in cases. Generally cases are spiking in different parts of the UK and across the world. Some have tried to politicise decision making and advice by medical professionals and have lobbied government to press ahead with mass spectator events It was ill-advised to begin with and now looks absurd. Always remember, an outbreak anywhere is an outbreak everywhere.

  26. Paul The Spark on

    Anyone live in the Knightswood/ Clydebank area? Sounds like a rave has been going on somewhere for the last couple of hours.

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