State of the club report, summer 2021


My friends in Celtic, in the corresponding article a year ago I put our chances of losing the league as high as 30%.  The rational behind this was:

  • Newco were actually closer to us than the league table indicated and I expected them to improve,
  • Teams have a shelf life and that (winning) Celtic squad looked to be nearing the end.
  • It is by no means down to this alone, but I wrote, “If the virus gets into the Celtic squad, we will not win the league.”  It did and we didn’t.

What I did not expect was the scale of the collapse.  In my Celtic supporting experience, it is only eclipsed by season 1977-78, when a double winning Celtic team finished trophy-less, fifth in the league and out of Europe.

So where did it go wrong?  I think we can go as far back as Brendan Rodgers not being released from his contract in August 2018 to allow him to go to China.  The writing was on the wall then, so when he found a club that would both pay him a huge contract and meet the release terms on his Celtic deal, we should have been better prepared.

Let’s be clear: Neil Lennon did brilliantly taking over from Brendan.  He kept the ship afloat, delivered the league and Scottish Cup, under the circumstances, that was an outstanding return.  However, I doubt if even Neil himself believes he was wise to take the job permanently.  This was a mistake by Neil, his advisors and most of all, by Celtic.

Objectively, what followed in season 2019-20 flies in the face of this assertion.  Despite our customary Champions League qualification debacle, we finished ahead of Lazio and Rennes to top our Europa League group.  The League Cup was won in memorable, if not convincing, style, nine-in-a-row was delivered, and when the Scottish Cup Final was eventually played, the quadruple treble.

It was as though the muscle memory at the club got us through that season but we all saw Newco boss us at Celtic Park.  The portents were clear.

Should Neil have been relieved of his duties in October, when it was evident we were such a shambles on the field, despite winning all five trophies he competed for at that stage?  Probably, but that question is all about who would come in to replace him.  John Kennedy as an interim was not necessarily going to change direction.  When Neil eventually left the building in February, our season was shot to pieces and he endured torrid months.

A clean break in February should have been a huge advantage, you get months to prep for the new season.  Most of that time was wasted on a failed pursuit of Eddie Howe.  Ange Postecoglou was sitting by his phone waiting on the call, had he been offer the position when Howe’s agent floated the first curve ball at Easter, we may still be in the Champions League.  This was also a mistake.

So where are we now?  If we go on to qualify for the Europa League group stage, last night’s defeat will have no more bearing on Celtic than the Lincoln Red Imps game in Gibraltar that started the Brendan Rodgers era.  We were never going to reach the Champions League group stage this season through the League Route.

Our primary objective is to win the league; on the back of Wednesday night’s evidence, we look well short.  There are, however, reasons to Park the Panic for a few weeks.  We have spent over £12m on three players, only the cheapest of whom, 19-year-old Liel Abada, has played.  Carl Starfelt (26) and Kyogo Furuhashi (also 26) are now available for selection, they will improve defence and attack.

We will sign a goalkeeper and a right back.  Odsonne Edouard and Boli Bolingoli are almost certain to move on, both will be replaced and bring in enough cash to recruit for other areas of the team.  I hope Ryan Christie extends his current deal, but if he goes, Ange has more scope to shuffle his pack.

This degree of player turnover should have happened a year ago.  It didn’t because of that fabled record.  I believe that without that looming milestone, Neil Lennon would also have gone last summer.

The decision to keep the squad together last year was thought less risky than undertaking significant change, especially with international travel restricted for most of the year and football curtailed, limiting, and in some circumstances eliminating, scouting opportunities.  Faced with a choice between keep what you have or buy blind, Celtic chose the former (with a goalkeeping exception).  Despite your hindsight, you would have made the same decision then.

We do not have a contemporary reference for the level of squad turnover that is currently underway.  The only historical equivalent is 1997, when an equally chaotic summer thrust the club forward, coincidentally, when we broke the mould and looked for a manager with experience in Japan.

Despite the toll the pandemic placed on Celtic’s finances, the club is structurally strong.  It has excellent long-term commercial deals that continue to perform, healthy ticket sales and a valuable squad that can be traded.  We were always going to emerge from this crisis battered but not broken.

The same is not true at Ibrox.  Newco need Champions League money this season, in losing the league, we opened a door for them to escape the consequence of Uefa Financial Fair Play.  I bored you with the details on this before so will be brief here.

Newco have run a persistent operating loss since their formation in 2012, most recently reported at around £1m per month – and that was pre-pandemic.  They are out of FFP road, only Champions League money will prevent a collapse.  New investors cannot help here, for FFP, spend must be balanced by football generated income.

What happens in their qualification tie against Malmo and if they progress, in the subsequent play-off round, will go a long way to determine how competitive the league race is over the next decade.  It is the sting in the tale of losing such a momentous title.

Right now our chances of winning the league are probably 30% – held back by so many unknowns, but despite the recent hit to finances, I expect the club to sanction a larger spend this summer than has ever happened at a Scottish football club.  We can tip the balance in the weeks ahead.

The hurt of missing the 10 will last forever, or at least, until we get close enough to dream again.   It is now part of our narrative.  I hope we will look back on the experiences of season 2020-21 as a touchstone, the harsh lesson that propelled us forward.

Enjoy your Celtic and continue to take care.


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  1. quadrophenian on

    Always good to read a couple of considered and reasoned posts – thanks SFTB and TONTINE – cant think why they’re better than the more trite mud-slingers and hun-mingers usual offerings.



    SFTB – I want to join your Superbru but the last links you provided are fecked – problems w both links for me: can ylou check and repost pls.



    Paul said we only have a 30% chance of winning the SPFL.


    I have to believe that with the new Boss and money we’re spending on calibre players, we’re easy 50/50 against a side whose main strength is organisation and biased refereeing decisions.



  2. Big Georges Fan Club - Hail, Hail, Wee Oscar on

    Hi SFTB and CRC.



    Apologies – had band practice tonight, so just logging on and am slightly tipsy.



    Will do selections in the mornin’








    WeeBGFC is a snoring lighweight CSC 😁👍🍻🍺

  3. Quadrophenian



    Download Superbru app


    Join SPFL as the football tournament you are joing


    Choose CQN Sentinels as the Pool you wish to join


    Type “roomuser” as password when prompted


    Await approval from me when I’m up in the morning


    Type your precictions in anyway- whenever you manage to join our poolm they will have been preserved



    Good Luck and Good Night as Ed Murrow meant to say

  4. Sláinte Ange on

    “I don’t think you can judge him (Ange) until the end of the transfer window and, hopefully, there will be a few players in that he would like in the positions he wants.”


    Neil Lennon


    I was pleasantly surprised by that comment.


    In Ange we trust

  5. I sense a tad more unity in the CQN wing of the Celtic support.


    Ange cannot be blamed for past failures and will be afforded time and our patience.


    Many poor decisions were made over recent years.


    We are at the start of a rebuild. Early signs are positive.


    The darkest hour is just before dawn, and all that

  6. Good morning cqn from an overcast, wet under foot but dry at the moment Garngad



    So here we are at the start of yet another league campaign, who knows what the line up will be, but I know one thing we will all be cheering on the Bhoys at 8pm tonight and as usual I cannot wait.



    Who said fitbaw isnae a drug. Who said Celtic isnae a drug.






    D :)

  7. overcast here too in Corcaigh………….first full 5k since getting the knee done this morn……….followed by a wee swim.



    The water temp is positively balmy….



    We’ll know whether our Bhoys are man enough for this seasons fight soon enough.







  8. Melbourne Mick on

    Hello again all you young rebels.



    From a beautiful sunny Melbourne, 18 degs today, spring still a few


    weeks away so just giving us a wee taste of what’s to come.


    Great little training session with our young loons this morning, most


    wearing a Celtic top of some kind, they think it will influence my team


    selection for our Sunday game, lucky enough they are the ones with


    most ability,lol.


    Really hyped for the bhoys visit to Tynecastle, hope our new signings


    get a run out, they both look the part on U-tube, I know..I know, but


    unleash the Starcelt and Kyogo the fury.


    Big Jimmy


    Not laughed at your patter for a wee whiley, hope you’re o.k


    H.H. MICK

  9. Big Georges Fan Club - Hail, Hail, Wee Oscar on



    Will do selections in the mornin’








    That’s me and WeeBGFC both got the selections logged.



    Many thanks.



    And good morning (or good evening) to Mick






  10. UNCLE JIMMY on 31ST JULY 2021 6:23 AM


    Early signs are positive.


    The darkest hour is just before dawn, and all that




    I sincerely hope so because the triumphalism being shown by the Ibrox followers in the west of Scotland is staggering. They are now coming out of the woodwork. I don’t think I have ever seen so many *Rangers tops ‘out and about’ in my life.



    It’s at fever pitch for three reasons:



    1) Their first title, they believe it’s 55.


    2) They believe it is the start of years of domination.


    3) They believe Celtic are badly broken.



    We face a bigger challenge now than when Martin walked through the door in 2000. Martin knew the British game inside out and spent BIG money on BIG players to bring early success.



    Ange will not have that luxury and will need to build incrementally – it will be tougher for him. There is no Larsson, Boyd, McNamara & Lambert to welcome him – and no Sutton, Lennon, Hartson types able to be afforded these days.

  11. SCULLYBHOY on 30TH JULY 2021 10:08 PM








    Was this Celtic’s worst season since 1966? The Board and team were all part of a conspiracy to stop the 10IAR in case R###### went bust and Celtic wouldn’t get into the English (was it the old First Division then?). So the conspiracy theory goes :–)







    That’s not how ‘the conspiracy theory’ goes at all.



    Deploying a strawman argument suggests you know your own case is weak.



    The Board and the team didn’t decide to replace BR and his entire back up staff with NFL, on his own. That decision was made by one man. And it wasn’t a man who was desperate to win the 10.






    Talking about conspiracy theories does make me wonder about the despicable way Celtic dealt with the Res 12 issue. Who decided that strategy (string them along then dump them and rubbish them)? Who was involved? Was this forum involved?



    I’d welcome your thoughts.

  12. JHB



    I’d agree with that. I see our rebuild being years in the making, not months.


    However, this seems at odds with the make up of our backroom team. We’ve not gone for either of the 2 models I’d have expected for such a rebuild.


    More positivity from me though!

  13. lets all do the huddle on

    it has taken a number of years to downgrade the squad into the state it is in now, by implementing a signing strategy of just doing enough to stay ahead of Aberdeen while still charging champions league levels of ticket prices so enabling PL and his cronies to keep their troughs full of cash



    therefore i think it could be a few years rather than a few months to correct it



    if AP can manage it sooner then it will be a heroic effort



    it starts tonight…

  14. UNCLE JIMMY on 31ST JULY 2021 8:27 AM


    However, this seems at odds with the make up of our backroom team. We’ve not gone for either of the 2 models I’d have expected for such a rebuild.




    Agree with all that and without going over old ground, what puzzles me is the apparent lack of urgency.



    There is a feeling of inertia and detachment emanating from the club and that is what is infuriating & bewidering the support. Paul produced his State of the Club Report – Summer 2021 – that is the type of thing that the CEO and the board should be publishing in all honesty.



    I applaud and admire your positivity. I, on the other hand, am not so sure we have ‘bottomed-out’ yet – tonight will be instructive.



    One further word of warning. New signings give us a feelgood factor, but not all signings make the grade. Brendan brought in seventeen and got five successes, and our intake last season was an unmitigated disaster.

  15. Initially, I agreed with Hartson that given the squad overhaul, a rebuild would take two years.



    The more I think about it, the more I disagree with it.



    We’re the richest club in the country, taking a back seat for two years isn’t good enough.



    With the will, the squad could be overhauled to an extent that no Club in Scotland could match this summer.



    It’s akin to Man City telling themselves it would take a couple of years to compete with Leicester after they won the league.



    Get the players in and go for this, Celtic.

  16. SIONNAIGH on 31ST JULY 2021 12:25 AM


    AN TEARMANN on 31ST JULY 2021 12:11 AM






    Well said AT. I live in hope our UK security forces are keeping a close eye on St Mary’s. Their beloved UK Nazis are trying to burn our Churches out, one by one.




    The fire at St Simons ( Partick ) was so sad and asked some questions. It had previously been vandalised. Was this truly a devastating accident or was something more sinister in play. ?


    Glasgow seems to have a very sad track record of old historical buildings going up in flames.



    Then you do a broader search. Catholic churches are under attack all over the world. They are being torched and the MSM hardly mention it.


    Even the leader of the ” free world ” who is supposedly of that religion is strangly silent on the subject in his own country.




  17. 3 Men are to blame for the state of all things Celtic, Peter Lawell,Neil Lennon,and the biggest culprit of them all Dermot Desmond,took last season for granted ie The 10 which turned out to be a complete failure,Duffy,JonJoe,Laxalt,Nitcham ,and others whom Lennon through under the bus,couldn’t care less one being Griffin’s,but Lennon used him for what was going on up at Lennoxtown,when in fact it was all down to his incompetence,So good luck to Ange if you can get 4 or 5 decent players then I reckon we will be back in a good place,

  18. Timboy 2,



    The only person who has has left the building is NFL.



    Hard to believe our complete disintegration was totally down to one man.




  19. Fairfhillbhoy


    30TH JULY 2021 8:04 PM



    Totally agree mate it’s now being used to devalue any critical posts but those using it seem to be unwilling to call it out. It’s gang bully mentality.



    Be an adult and call it out or keep it to yourselves.


    Particularly the wee fearty camp followers who contribute nothing to the debate.

  20. lets all do the huddle on

    “With the will, the squad could be overhauled to an extent that no Club in Scotland could match this summer.”





    “With the will…”



    therein lies the problem



    does the PLC have the ‘will’ to gamble on their bonuses and allow AP to have a proper go at the job?



    over to Dom to answer that in the coming months

  21. quadrophenian on

    From reading CQN, things that you’re unlikely to be able to forget…



    We’re shite


    The worst it’s ever been:


    It was Peter and Dermie’s fault


    And Lennys


    And JK and the laptop lightweights’


    And Paul – whose in there poakit – wulnae admit it


    Our board are Tory huns


    And Dudu only sells us do-do


    Hunterlopers- and CHUMPS – abound


    Yet there are no multi-monicker Malevolents


    Except the new yin


    We have no fullbacks


    Or hardmen midfielders


    Or, out-and-out goal machines


    And we’re so unfit


    While the manager’s got no Euro credentials


    And the Frenchies are revolting (and sometimes blouses)


    And embdy that sez different is a happy-clappin’, panty-wettin’ board apologist


    Mika’s legs were gone but actually mibby not that gone


    And all players in the low 20s are still referred to as kids


    is def never Celtic class


    And we’d chase Forster but not (recently mentioned) Foster


    We’ll need two to three years minimum


    To even be SPFL – far less Europa league – level


    But THEMS are a shoo-in for 40million Champs league run


    Cos their assistant coach is a genius


    And is for the off


    Oh, and Griff’s a wrong un



    That about it??



    KTF Bhoys.

  22. No evidence so far that the plc have changed their behaviour in any way whatsoever.