State of the Club Report, summer 2018


When Celtic won their first 7-in-a-row by a 10-point margin in 1972, there was scarcely a cloud on the horizon.  The also collected the Scottish Cup that season, lost the European Cup semi-final on penalties and, but for a mishap against Partick Thistle in the League Cup final, would have completed their third treble.

A year later, the league-winning margin was cut to a single point and although 9-in-a-row was famously achieved in 1974, the seventh consecutive title would be the last truly dominant Celtic league win for 16 years.

Jock Stein’s team of the mis-70s was vulnerable in ways your Celtic team of today is not.  Stein was brilliant and changed everything about Scottish football when he arrived at Celtic in 1965, but the longer he stayed, the closer his rivals could ape his methods.

At Sean Fallon’s funeral Mass, Alex Ferguson mentioned that he and his wife would deliberately go to the same restaurant Jock and Sean dined at on a Saturday evening, so that the young Rangers player could quiz them both on the game.  It was a school day for Ferguson.  People watched Celtic, copied their tactics, scouting and preparations.  By 1974 Stein’s advantage was gone.

This interpretation of Scottish football history was clear in 1997, when Rangers matched Celtic’s “9”.  Their golden era was not the consequence of a radically different manager, but of sheer financial power, power that unlike Stein’s in 1974, remained in place as Rangers planned for 10-in-a-row.

There has been little consistency across our current 7-in-a-row.  Three managers and countless players (not the 44 used in league campaigns between 1965 and 1974).  If you were to try to match the current Celtic formula for success, you would attempt to replicate their scouting, sports science and maybe their playing style, but most of all, you would need a business plan that produces income which can, on occasion, reach £100m.

Like Rangers in 1997, Celtic today have a financial advantage over all others in Scottish football.  Unlike Rangers in 1997, Celtic do not have anyone readying themselves to match their investment in the team.  While Fergus McCann and Jock Brown were busy signing Henrik Larsson and the like, no one in Scotland can come close to matching Celtic’s £9m investment in Odsonne Eduard, or their £52m wage bill.

Nor should they.  Under Fergus, Celtic worked their way close to Rangers turnover.  By 1997 there was still a gap, but it was bridgeable without putting the club into peril.  Even without Champions League football, other clubs are years away from getting to within striking distance of Celtic.

This position of strength is a consequence of professionalism throughout the club.  Look around as you walk up Celtic Way tomorrow.  Picture in your mind the next stage of the regeneration of the old place, with the hotel to your left, and a museum and visitor centre.

That Champions League income is important, but we have been busy in the background.  The cumulative value of the Dafabet shirt sponsorship deal that was signed BEFORE Brendan Rodgers appointment and revolution in 2016 was worth as much as a Champions League group stage qualification.  The renewal of Dafabet’s sponsorship for seven years, announced this morning, is worth an absolute fortune.  Add to that, New Balance, the Magners sponsorship on the back and other key partnerships with Eden Mill, Intelligent Car Leasing and others, and you see a football club underpinned by strong finances, before it sells a season ticket or scores a goal.

One Saturday night In the early 1990s (not on a match day), at the Walfrid Restaurant, our table was served a main course without potatoes.  The spuds duly appeared with the sweet.

This is an obscure observation to trouble you with today, but it encapsulated everything about Celtic of that era.  We didn’t have the organisational knowledge to server potatoes with the chicken instead of the carrot cake.  How could we hope to recruit, develop and tactically deliver success on the football field?

There are reasons why potatoes came with the carrot cake – it is not because the kitchen staff didn’t know better, just as there are reasons why we are ‘knocking it out the park’, on, and off, the park these days.  Getting things right in any organisation is not quick, easy or cheap.  It takes planning, training and several iterations of learning from mistakes.  We were a shambles.  We are now a thoroughly professional outfit in every area we operate.  Look at what our commercial team are achieving in contrast to what happens elsewhere.

That is why we are going to win the league this season.  It’s why we will win “10” and it is why we will continue to win successive titles for the rest of your life.  This success is not built upon the wisdom of Jock Stein or Brendan Rodgers, it is a consequence of planning to win, and never lose again.  Ever.

While Peter Lawwell is hugely important in the operation, it goes well beyond him now.  You will find the same unforgiving demands at every corporate contact point.  These commercial deals take the risk out of making expensive managerial appointments.

I have concerns about our prospects against AEK Athens – a stronger opponent than we are capable of facing in the fourth qualification round.  The chances of a third consecutive treble should also be given perspective.  We have escaped ‘one of those days’ in two years of cup competitions, that does not mean we are immune from them.

Champions League football may or may not happen this season, but we will not collapse “like a pack (sic) of cards” if we miss out.  The show will go on, because we have planned for such an eventuality.  Average attendances will hover a touch below capacity, we will continue to improve.

If you are too young to know how special tomorrow’s Flag Day is, bore yourself talking to an auld yin’ for a while.  This success has been worked on for decades.  It is a result of denial and restraint, while lemmings were heading for the cliff.  It is a milestone in history.  It is a beacon that shines a green light far beyond Celtic Park.  It is a wonderful thing.

Enjoy it.

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    NATKNOW previous article…



    There were a few places in Ardrossan/Saltcoats which sold it. I tended to avoid them,but if I couldn’t,it was Guinness time.



    “Alfie’s” or The Castlehill Vaults,in Ardrossan,had a line drawing of a horse slurping from a bucket labelled Tennents and peeing into a bucket labelled McEwans.



    Sums it up…

  2. Paul, I think you might mean 26 years from 1974. 1990 was not a league winning year, vintage or otherwise.

  3. Paul67: I won’t be there tomorrow but I will imagine the hotel and the museum.



    I’ll also be imagining the fans’ café beside the Superstore.



    Btw, isn’t the Kano Foundation collection tomorrow?





    Re tomorrow’s flag day,I’m reliably informed that tomorrow’s mascot is the grandson of a much-loved CQNer.



    Wouldn’t be fair to say more,but I hope he has a day to remember!!!



    PS-I’m looking forward to him telling me all about it the following day. That’s if I can find where the family have holed up. Middle of nowhere.




  5. What is the Stars on

    Potatoes with desert



    Bloody Irish …Typical bloody Paddy innit



    Tax Evading West Brit Audi Drivers Forever





    Strictly speaking,nor was 2000.



    But it saw the start of what we see now.





    Dunno what his problem is,mate. Didnae complain about the carrots wi his cake.

  8. Paul67



    I can remember having a conversation with my daughter over 15 years ago about the lack of business professionalism at Celtic.



    As an ex IT Department manager involved in making my team more professional I could see the gaps.



    There is no doubt we have come on in leaps and bounds in the time between. There will always be room for improvement but the direction is upwards.



    I blame Catholic schools. :)

  9. Go tell the Spartim on

    dont you think a “social cafe” would be a good idea for Celtic to adopt, given our roots, Kano Kafe is a sound idea too

  10. Good article Paul.The finances off the field are incredible for a team playing in Scotland.Not so sure about your thoughts on the AEK game.Seem to be falling into some kind of “Name trap”.When wasthe last time a Greek club done reasonably well?.Believe me,the Greek fans will be worried about us.Apart from the odd fluke result,they dont travel too well.A rocking Celtic Park,and our best available team will give us every chance.


    I will agree though,it could have been easier.

  11. playfusbal4dguilders on

    Is there an online/ crowdfunder/ justgiving / type Kano Fundation page for those who cant make tomorrow???




  12. Naming rights for the Stadium,and Lennoxtown should be next.Dont know why we have dithered on this.Its only a name,that we will never use.


    As BMCUW said,who actually buys,uses,gives a sevond thought company advertising?Take the dosh.

  13. What a strange article.



    Like Harold MacMillan and Marie Antoinette.



    You’ve never had it so good. We’ll win the SPL ad infinitum, back may go out to the Greeks over the next couple of weeks.



    And enjoy your now properly-served cake.



    I absolutely recognise the significantly improved professionalism around CP and on the pitch. I absolutely welcome it. I also recognise how far we have to go, the consistency of Celtic tv being a good example.



    But I’m left feeling a wee touch Level5 or Level67 having read the tone of it.



    Dan Dan my giant mhan. Thank you.



    Me too back to lurking.



    HH jg





    We haven’t played many Greek clubs,and beaten none.



    But they’re champions of a higher-rated league than our own. I know sod all about them apart from that.



    One thing for sure,it’s getting more and more difficult now.





    Is there an online/ crowdfunder/ justgiving / type Kano Fundation page for those who cant make tomorrow??




    Mailed that to someone who might be able to answer it for you.



    Great idea!!!




  16. Hi Paul67,



    Very good analysis and such a positive vibe as we head for flag day.



    Each season brings the same old challenges and unique challenges.



    When you have the structure right and fundamentals right, each department can focus on their challenges.



    Departing from football for a bit, I posted a comment a while back regarding contrasting and comparing the two biggest Glasgow Clubs and using it as a study in business.



    On the face of it they are very similar businesses, potential wise you could almost say identical…



    Both in the same industry



    Both operate in the same city with the same cost base



    Both have similar size followings locally, UK wide and Globally



    Both have a similar demographic and client base



    So why is one three times larger than the other and going from strength to strength and the other is lagging and struggling to survive.



    Of course the fact that one is an established business, that has learned and implemented it’s strategy and business planning through decades of trading and the other is a new business.



    Yet that’s only part explains it, new brooms often sweep clean…



    It is very much the way the businesses are run and the business ethos running through those businesses… it’d make a great thesis.



    No a fan of Betting sponsorship but a great bit of Business in the partnership with Dafabet, though must say I’m taken aback by the 7 years.



    I’m fully expecting Celtic to be playing in a pan European league by then.



    However, if one is clever one can sign contracts with ones partners to ensure flexibily in the contract and a win-win scenario.



    Rather than say, pay £500K in Legal fees to hear a Judge state…



    …”I would really have thought the time has come to try to make peace.



    Although this would make a very interesting part of the thesis;)



    Hail Hail

  17. Was enjoying holiday in the Algarve, till i seen ‘ Jock Brown….’ arrogant ar$# of a man….

  18. Level 5, frantically going through photos of last night’s game at Poundland, looking for Celtic tops/scarves in the Croat section……the rags at the (aye) ready…

  19. The Blogger Formerly Known As GM on

    Ooooooft………praising ‘the suits’.




  20. Feeling pumped up Paul after reading your article but Jamesgang has kept my feet on the ground, where I’m most comfortable, with his post. Yes we’re doing well and it is true that we were shambolic in the past. If we can continue to act in a professional manner with competent people running the financial side of the business and top managers and coaches running the team then we can enjoy high levels of success for seasons to come. Personally, I’m 67 and I want all the records in terms of titles and trophies before I shuffle off this mortal coil.

  21. An Tearmann, how are you doing big mhan? Stopped reading The Herald long since, as per the other rags. Maybe see you tomorrow at the corner. HH





    I believe he wrote a book titled “Celtic Minded” following his tenure with us.



    Aye,so ye ur.



    IMO,Fergus’ biggest mistake.

  23. playfusbal4dguilders on




    Thanks will keep an eye out?




  24. TURKEYBHOY on 3RD AUGUST 2018 11:41 AM


    Did you not see my post yesterday that Arzani will be at Celtic Park tomorrow?


    On Cole’s it was not nearly 50, it was 57 Buses.


    Keep the Faith!


    Hail Hail!

  25. So there you have it. Direct from the horses arse. Celtic’s future is inextricably linked to that of Rangers and 10iar. I hate always being right. You can depend on the worst thing always happening. You need a busload of faith to get by. Apples and bananas and revisionist history. Not another penny fro me. But I haven’t donated that many pennies since 2013 anyway.





    UEFA will probably say its sod all to do with them,it happened outside the stadium.



    That’s was the excuse given ten years ago.



    Meanwhile,countless clubs have been sanctioned before and since for events outside the stadium.



    It’s almost as though there is an influential voice in the inner sanctum.



    Oops,wrong terminology.

  27. Word of advice


    Don’t go around the Vatican bobbling your head saying Allahu Akbar. It won’t end well.

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