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. Park Road 67 on 1st August 2020 10:07 am






    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





    Hope today goes well you have both worked hard for a good cause.



    Hope the sun comes out for you both. Love to E.




  2. Hot Smoked – Kent looks like a white supremacist, a typical Hun trait that they love.



    I would never tire of smacking him in the chops.






    D :)

  3. I might stop for a nice drink of cold Tenents Lager……oh ffs I’m thirsty.




    D :)

  4. POG…Cheers mate for the info about Blackpool/ Train journey etc.


    I could go to somewhere in Scotland but I cant walk too far so there is no point in me going somewhere that is gonna involve walking a lot etc.


    As for Edinburgh ?…..I would only consider going there for 1 or 2 days maximum…although there are plenty of Pubs, I am not a big fan of Edinburgh.



    I must find somewhere with plenty of Pubs and Burds ?



  5. I hope that our new Goalie Barkas, starts tomorrow, it MIGHT be an ideal game for his debut ?



    Can he speak English ?


    Its also a great opportunity to play with TWO Up front, as many on here have suggested ?




  6. DAVID66 on 1ST AUGUST 2020 10:27 AM


    I might stop for a nice drink of cold Tenents Lager……oh ffs I’m thirsty.




    Like me…you are always thirsty LOL.


    As for slapping Mr Kent….you will have to shove me oot of the way first…Hes just yet ANOTHER DESPICABLE Character that the Huns will always attract and welcome.



    What would their reaction be if Broony, or Arter Boruc, Johnny Doyle, Anton Rogan etc etc…if any of those Celts ….OR any other Celt….celebrated like Kent did, whenever we scored against the Huns ?



  7. Looked online at paper headlines


    Evening times, has a picture of both Neil and Slippy G


    Neil shown in our old NB gear


    Slippy in that brand new, super duper new gear



    How can they not find an updated picture of Neil in our new Addidas gear ??



    Must be too difficult for them to look at Neil in our new sponsors gear

  8. Big Jimmy


    Can he speak English – he’ll quickly learn to use ffs – followed by Julien, Ajer, Bitton etc 🤭

  9. The support have certainly got behind the club with record season ticket sales and now this morning, the announcement that hospitality has sold out.



    And that Sevco bench is treadbare. They won’t be using 5 subs anytime soon.

  10. State of the club by Paul67/ PL report reminds me of Boris telling Scotland that the union is supporting them





    Celtic have £38.9m in the bank, and the £17.7m player sales does not include Kieran Tierney’s £25m move to Arsenal.



    Chairman Ian Bankier described the results as “satisfactory”.




    Just remember after another CL shambles to a club with a fraction of our income , we had approx 62M in the bank which led to another whopping CEO bonus



    2 times in 5 years qualify for cl and failing against clubs on a less than 50% of our income is corporate failure



    Fail again and surly a failed CEO should walk



    Accounts are due out in September and this time Peter lawell can’t say. Oops but transfer window is closed. This year Extended to October



    Wait and see what accounts say to see if a blogger and CEO are telling fibs



    Very little loss of income


    Reduced wages of 1st team


    Adidas money


    62m in bank




    Just remember that when we are pumped by some unknown team in CL qualifying

  11. Sydney Tim



    The pain you get from one of Celtic’s most successful periods in history oozes from every word you have written. I do hope you can put your personal bitterness aside for a bit this season.



    I Also still hope you are celebrating along with the rest of us come April or May or June or whenever we win 10 !

  12. A busy kitchen for me, got the iron plugged in one socket, radio Clyde in other plug, Krups machine just went green and Skygo on the iPad …



    mon the Dandy Dons



    Jonny Hayes CSC

  13. Ha ha , first dive already from Hagi, silence from commentary. Waited for a touch , didn’t come, went over anyway.

  14. First snidey foul from Morelos who does look overweight



    Aribo their main threat. Aberdeen looking to contain

  15. Kent scores, very poor high line from Aberdeen. Game over now unless aberdeen can get some ball in midfield

  16. Big Sutton just said on Football Focus Sevco one up against Aberdeen ‘that’s them won the league then’ ha ha great wind up

  17. prestonpans bhoys on

    Got the game on and only occasionally watching it, but what strikes me is that neither team can defend properly



    Got the game on and only occasionally watching it, but what strikes me is that neither team can defend properly






    sheep are piloting the social distancing formation

  19. Are the Sheep allergic to tackling a hun??



    Contrast this with the way teams injury our players.



    Cheating bastards



    D :)

  20. Dons v Huns…


    The Dons are Toothless,…they are the home team and not ONE effort on the Hun goal in first 45 minutes.


    McCoist is slabbering all over this Hun performance….NO Mention of just how bad the Dons are by him or the main commentator Ian Drake (?).



    No doubt Hun fans will also be slabbering at home or in pubs…and completely dismissing just how shocking Aberdeen are.




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