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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  1. Paul, I’m in the kitchen with Alexa while wife on phone to sister in Canada . Cannae get more distant. 😁

  2. Just watched the BBC news and their precursor to the new season. Excerpts of the postponement of football in March, gnashing of teeth about the Jags and Hearts (cue Cosgrove with a serious fizog), but not only no mention of the current title holders and record breakers but the inclusion of a sly sleekit skit of Kent scoring against us and then mimicking numerous gunshots to the head. Despicable, intentional and puerile.



    They have, in that short bulletin, announced their intentions for the forthcoming


    League campaign. The silencing of any dissenting voices such as Michael Stewart, the promotion of Ibrox acolytes in Thompson. We should not be looking for preferential treatment but neither should we have to endure overt bias. I will be writing to BBC Scotland tomorrow and would urge all Celtic supporters to do the same about the Kent clip.

  3. Dallas Dallas


    Thanks for your posts on Sean Fallon.a Celtic pillar.he was a beacon as an Irishman to the many Irish who came over and found work and life in the West of Scotland.he was solid as a rock but was humble and worked at his game.i love that iconic pic of the bench at the whistle in Lisbon,payback for generations who only had Celtic and remained true during quiet years.Stay safe buddy. :-))




  4. I look forward to the day when that wee Kent ,


    like aw the ithers


    finally, deliciously and ultimately


    take the reality of thur


    horribly bereft, diminished, existence into thur empty deid heart and slip further into






  5. forgoat to add………..



    and dont have nightmares……


    It’s good to be a Tim!







  6. Melbourne Mick on

    Hello again all you young rebels.



    Whaur’s ra early burds this morning?


    Great wee day in our sun kissed garden, neighbours had the tunes on


    we had the tunes on, so it was Grace, The Fields, YNWA, a bit like the


    duel of the banjo’s or battle of the ballads, think the more upbeat ones


    will be on as the drink starts flowing this evening.


    I’ve got the BOTOB ready for action 8-))


    H.H. Mick

  7. Usually, one Hun player is even more despicable and destested than all the others. I give you Ryan Kent.

  8. …..and sorry, Mick, I can`t stay to chat. Tee off at 7:50 am


    Cheerio for now.



  9. Morning to all from The Calton.


    MELBOURNE MICK..I was up at 3.30am this morning and had a toilet visit, a couple of sips of juice…and a wee Brussel Sprout ( A Fag doubt)…and then back to bed.




    I have a funny feeling that the Huns will win easily at Aberdeen today ( I hope that I am wrong ?)…and they will be claiming the League Title after one game…its in their DNA.


    I fancy Celtic to also win comfortably tomorrow, and for our strikers to get on the score sheet as asap.


    I had another quiet day yesterday at home…no drink…I may go out tomorrow for several beers before the Celts game ?



    Stay safe.



  10. I hope that Aberdeen give the mankies a real game Today…but I think the Dons may be weaker just now with players not available ?


    I also expect the Ref to give the Huns a leg up today…as usual….whoever the Ref is ?




  11. Melbourne Mick on




    Just before I hit the garden again, not ever being a smoker, that’s


    a word that’s always puzzled me, is it a dout, a doubt, or a dought


    and why?


    Will catch your reply after I march roon the garden to BOTOB.


    H.H. Mick

  12. MM,









    verbextinguish (a fire or light).


    “he sent her and Peter back to dout the fire”




    noun: dout; plural noun: douts; noun: dowt; plural noun: dowts


    a cigarette end.


    “he inserts the dout off-centre between his lips”

  13. Cheers POG Mate.





    I remember going to Blackpool on holiday many times especially as a youngster.


    As a Teenager, I remember going into a local shop in Blackpool for Fags etc…and the middle aged Woman behind the counter welcomed me with….” Morning Cock, what can I get you” ?



    I was taken aback at this stranger, especially a Wummin, calling me a “Cock” ?


    I was tempted to plant a Glesga kiss on her…but she was bigger than me !






  14. Whenever I meet a wummin called ” Alice”….I usually call her “Crystal Palace”.


    Whenever I meet a Guy called Barry/Harry/Larry etc…I usually call them “Cash and Carry”.


    When some one does me a good turn…I usually say…”Thanks very much…youre some Saucepan Lid…( Kid).



    a wee Brussel Sprout….” Dout” . A fag that you didnt finish earlier.





  15. I was planning on going for a wee holiday to Blackpool in the next couple of weeks on my own to a lovely Central Hotel called “The Lawton”, and going by Train etc ?



    I have held off booking the Hotel and Train to wait and see what was happening with this Virus etc……it now looks in serious doubt as wee Nicola is warning Scots about going to some areas in England due to a Virus spike in Blackburn and Burnley etc…and the North West of England.



    I am gutted, as I was really looking forward to a weeks break after all the health problems that I have had since last September.


    I suppose that I should be grateful that I havent lost any money in deposits etc.


    I certainly dont wish to be in England and matters get worse and I cant travel home to Glesga ?



    Gutted CFC.



  16. Morning Mick are you still in the garden listening to the Rebs ?



  17. Dallas Dallas where the heck is Dallas on

    An Tearmann, thank you for your comment last night but Bognorbhoy is the one to be thanked for posting those pictures of Sean yesterday. Greengray and Scaniel made good contributions also.



    Sean was such a down to earth man, he would be embarrassed by the praise we give him but is fully deserving of it.




    Are you in the garden listening to the rebs.




  19. Good morning All from sunny D&G.


    English Cup Final Day eh..(note to self, never FA cup) well that takes me back to my childhood. Spurs versus Leicester in 1961 was the second football match which I saw on telly – the first one being Real Madrid versus Eintracht Frankfurt the year before. ….spoiled we were then, unaware of Franco’s involvement but mesmerised by Puskas, DiStefano, Gento, Canario, Santa Maria et al. I’m sure I burst out greeting when Eintracht scored first, some guy that the commentator (Wolstenholm probably) pronounced as Christ and I thought they must have god on their side. Ferenc Puskas soon put paid to that idea. Amongst all that glittering talent, he stood alone.


    But back to the English cup. Back then, of course, there was only BBC, and BBC Scotland did not show the English game. Living on Bute, however, certain areas could pick up BBC Ulster which did show the game live. 1961 was Spurs’ Double Year, the first time that had been achieved that century and their team was full of talent, most noticeably John White, Dave McKay, Danny Blanchflower and Cliff Jones.


    We ducked out of the school record hop, which was supposed to be compulsory, – but really a school dance on any Saturday afternoon what were they thinking about, – to go around to my friend’s house to watch the game. Leicester were down to ten men when one of their fullbacks got crocked and, of course, there were no subs. Spurs went on to win 2-0 and do the Double.


    Thereafter the English Cup Final Day was one of the highlights of the year, not least because as we grew up the crisps, Bute lemonade and Dunsade was replaced by pastachutta, lager and Red wine.


    Think the last of these exclusives to Bute cup finals was the Trevor Brooking/ West Ham game as I seem to remember the Ossie/Ricky Villa game versus Man City on our own telly.


    Since then my interest in the English cup final has diminished. Think the only one I’ve watched recently was the Michael Owen one versus Arsenal in Cardiff.


    The last one I even remember was the Chelsea / Arsenal one in 2017 and only because after Big Tom Rogic had delivered us our Invincible Treble there was a crowd of Chelski fans trying to invade O’Gilins in Lisbon whilst TAL took us outside to do the Huddle in the Plaza Duque da Tercerira. By the time we got back they weren’t so noisy. Pretty sure Arsenal won that one which kept that mob quiet. Didn’t see any of the game as we ended up having a kebab and falafel with BMCUWP and COSY CORNER BHOY.


    So today I shall watch the English cup final because 1) KT is playing


    2) I’ve got the red buddy in


    3) The pastachutta is made


    &4) Got feck all else to do


    Even then, don’t really care who wins – it’s just a side show before the real thing starts tomorrow at 4:30 CPT.

  20. Back to Basics - Glass Half Full on

    D9Comedy – yip. Blatant peddling of a line by BBC Scotland which has proven to be false.



    I know it’s not our club’s style but, purely as a tactic, I would ban BBC Scotland immediately while leaving the door open for BBC England.



    With the two biggest Glasgow clubs blocking them it would be a huge issue for the new head of BBC Scotland to address.



    Best chance of a new broom (IMHO).



    Of course it could be that our board perceive them, and all other SMSM, as flies circling excrement and wouldn’t waste their time on them.



    PS – great moniker.



    Hail hail



    Keep The Faith

  21. Good morning from a far cooler North Staffs.



    Back to basics


    Banning the BBC hasn’t done newclub any harm – there is still wall to wall puff pieces. Of course they are not subject to any interrogation on the piss that’s coming out of ipox which of course suits newclub and BBC Scotland.



    With the two biggest Glasgow clubs blocking them it would be a huge issue for the new head of BBC Scotland to address.




    I wasn’t aware that Partick Thistle had banned BBC Scotland.😉

  23. Big Jimmy,


    Regarding Blackpool/train trip I saw an article that was suggesting that you could be at greater risk on a train journey if there is a COVID-19 carrier within 2.5 metres of you on a journey of more the 2.5 hours.


    Stay safe, stay in Glasgow. 😉



    Morning Tony not in garden listening to Rebs yet , this is the last day of our soup run after 17 weeks , things slowly getting back to normality

  25. Morning all from a beautiful sunny Garngad



    When you think of our potential team for manana we should destroy Hamilton and 5 subs as well.👍






    El Hamed Ajer Julien Taylor



    Cal Mac Broonie



    Jamsie RC Moi






    Subs: Frimpong,Griff, Rogic, Ntcham, Klihala, Soro



    Bring it on



    D :)

  26. Fries – sorry I was meaning it could be 5 outfield players from that list.



    But hey ho, no, let’s just attack.😂😂😂



    D :)

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