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. TR @ 12.05



    It all comes down to the net spend this summer.


    If we were to invest then we would be in with a chance.

  2. BANKIEBHOY1 on 31ST JULY 2021 7:46 AM


    overcast here too in Corcaigh………….first full 5k since getting the knee done this morn…



    WOW, quality recovery my Mhan, being able to do a 5k just hours after the op!

  3. GREENPINATA on 31ST JULY 2021 12:09 PM



    Thanks for the info but I just got my wife to pay it as I promised her all my potential winnings. Luckily she doesn’t know how hopeless I am at predicting scores :-)

  4. JHB on 31ST JULY 2021 12:04 PM



    True but as I said earlier today, Abramovich knows what he doesn’t know. Marina Granovskaia does most of the hiring and firing as well as overseeing recruitment.



    The owner delegating football duties to somebody knows their stuff is vital – something we lack.

  5. I notice opinion is starting to split on Soro. After a bright start, he does seem to have faded and I thought he was very poor in midweek.



    I wonder if this is an area Ange will look to strengthen too. Brown was always going to be tough to replace and I’m not convinced Soro is the new Scott Brown…

  6. !!Bada Bing!! on

    GB- like Turnbull, he seems to fade after about 65 minutes, hopefully the fitness levels can get back to where they were.

  7. SFTB,



    I’ve joined the competition.



    I’ll transfer the money later this evening when I’m finished work if that’s ok.



    Thanks for organising

  8. For not too much money,I would think a team of








    Star felt


    Doig (hibs )










    Japanese Buoy






    Would very well.

  9. Why do people keep quoting the example of Abramovich? He uses Chelsea as a vehicle to manage certain aspects of his wealth, and the bottom line is Chelsea owe him a cool £1.17 billion.




    Chelsea FC: Finances



    Chelsea owe £1.17 billion to Abramovich



    What would happen if Roman Abramovich decided to sell Chelsea Football Club?


    By David Pasztor@D_Peezy Jun 1, 2018, 11:20am BST



    Roman Abramovich may have halted Chelsea’s stadium redevelopment plans due to an “unfavourable investment climate” in the UK (i.e. visa/geopolitical standoff), but according to reports, remains “fully committed” to the club. That hasn’t stopped speculation that this could be the beginning of the end of his 15-year ownership. Certainly, if he continues to be barred from working in the UK, it’s not inconceivable that he would simply pack up his proverbial toys and leave.



    So what would happen to Chelsea Football Club then?



    First off, Abramovich wouldn’t necessarily have to sell. Most of the top clubs have absentee owners as it is, with none of the owners of Manchester United (the Glazers), City (supposedly Sheikh Mansour), Liverpool (Henry & Werner of Fenway Sports Group), or Arsenal (Stan Kroenke is the majority shareholder) frequenting their teams all that often, if at all. Abramovich and Spurs’ Daniel Levy were the two exceptions, and most of Chelsea’s day-to-day activities were taken care of by Marina Granovskaia and the rest of the Chelsea Board already. Roman may not be able to work in the country, but as of right now, the UK still allows foreign ownership of property (and English football allows for foreign owners) and he’d be at most a phone call away at any given time.



    If Abramovich were to sell, he’d probably make sure to get proper value for the club. What that value may be is anyone’s guess, but most financial magazines and outlets value Chelsea in the £1.25-1.5b range. Sports teams tend not to sell for these stated values however. Forbes may have valued Manchester City right around $2b last summer, for example, but they sold a 13.79% stake in the club for £265m two years prior to that, which already put their overall value on the open market closer to $3b.



    As the Times remind us, Abramovich would also probably want repayment of his £1.17b interest-free loan that Chelsea — or technically speaking Chelsea’s parent company Fordstam as Chelsea FC themselves are “debt free” — owe him. Of course, he in turn owns Fordstam, so in a sense, it’s money he owes himself, but that would not be the case in reality. As per the terms of that loan, Abramovich can actually call it in at any time (not just when selling) with an 18-month notice (i.e. Chelsea would have 18 months to repay it).



    More likely however, just like when Abramovich bought the club in 2003, that £1.17b debt would be part of the purchase price paid by whoever comes in. Abramovich cleared about £80m worth of debt in addition to the £140m he spent to buy out Ken Bates and all the minority shareholders. Fifteen years later, whoever would be next would probably have to add at least a zero to both of those numbers.



    But regardless of whether an individual, a state, or an ownership group would manage to gather up that much money, chances are that Chelsea’s day-to-day business of footballing success would not take a massive hit, even in the worst case scenario. As much as FFP is a drag, it also protects the already rich clubs by not allowing those below to easily jump up a level or two like Chelsea did in 2003 or City in 2008 — it is still possible, as PSG’s shenanigans prove, but much harder in theory than it was before. The players, the facilities, the coaches and managers would remain world-class or very near it, and would likely carry on the winning tradition established over the past couple decades.



    Is Abramovich likely to sell? Outside of this sort of idle speculation, probably not. Or at least not yet.






    My last comment on some of the discussion today, and then I will get ready to watch the game tonight, i.e. get some beer and red wine in. Celtic will never be invited to join the EPL. One of the main reasons is the association with you know who. Ironically, if the others had vanished without trace – Celtic were more likely to be invited to join some sort of new second tier British league set up.

  10. GEEBEE1978 on 31ST JULY 2021 12:18 PM


    The owner delegating football duties to somebody knows their stuff is vital – something we lack.




    Yes we do – and having read the few interviews given by DD over his time at Celtic, he always emphasises that on the field success is not the be all and end all.



    His close association with, and loyalty to, Neil Lennon, has played a big part recently. His belief is that Celtic must stay united in times of trouble. He thought the GB banners and protest reprehensible and dug his heels in. Their demonstrations were actually counter-productive….like most of what they get up to.



    I am not defending DD, just trying to understand what makes him tick. He has said clearly on at least two occasions that if someone of substance wanted to buy him out, and he felt it was in the best interests of Celtic, he would not resist……food for thought?



    Is there really anybody out there interested in investing that kind of money in a Scottish football club? I very much doubt it.

  11. Temp at my Pool,46 Degrees.Bloody boiling.No wonder the country is ablaze.Too hot,so will go inside and watch the Champions(Boak )only from KO,to first goal,unless its against.Tried to get the Japan game,to see the Man C boy,but can’t find the obscure channel.

  12. We now have 60 members in the Superbru comp- I will check at 1.29 pm to see if there are any more last minute entries. Don’t worry if you miss the first game deadline. Everyone is predicting a win for Sevco while I am assured it will be 5:0 to the Livi🤤



    You won’t be too far behind if you join late- hoping for 7 more- would be nice

  13. Go tell the Spartim on

    James McCarthy is the latest rumour 🤷🏼‍♂️



    If you’ve not read already, good player bit of a sick note

  14. Turkeybhoy,



    That’s a decent shout for a team for not too much money. Good work.



    I’d also be happy if we signed Lewis Ferguson.



    He’s valued at 2.5m on Transfermarket and he would be challenging our midfield for a place.

  15. Emerald Beeee






    I see what you mean.




  16. in ither news………………….




    David ” Davie” Martindale just delighted to be part o’ the party……….

  17. Livingston playing exactly as sevco would have hoped they would play. For a team built on being compact and hard to beat they are surprisingly open and easy to get beyond.



    Thankfully I have to go out shortly so I won’t waste my own time and energy watching this but no surprise in any of what I’ve seen so far.



    Given our own trials and tribulations I haven’t been paying any attention to them uns. Anyone know where the fat Colombian is?

  18. aw diddums mitchy.


    now if only you had the balls to post as yourself.but alas you dont.


    still failing badly at gleaning.


    and the fake dual moniker thing shows what a pitiful wee guy you are..


    so if lawellites are cumbie


    what happens to the tongs pmsl.


    you have a good day michy




  19. If the celtic board want to change the fortunes of the team and put sevco back in their place, it could be done without going into the red and quickly.



    The board would need to trust Ange and co to get the right players in the door and to get them performing to an acceptable level. Celtic hired Ange and should now back him fully to quickly turn things round imo.



    The alternative is to not trust the Ange, not get the players in and sit at the back of the bus for a few years. Following this path means your gonna have to go ahead and do the big spend anyway, it’s simply pushing the problem down the road and likely to cost more in the long run.



    For avoidance of doubt if we buy better players than our opponents and the manager gets them to play well in a good structure with a good understanding of their roles we win the league. football is a simple game when stripped to the basics.




  20. Tom McLaughlin on

    Assuming it is even remotely feasible, could Ernie or one of his fellow conspiracy nuts explain how Celtic winning 10-in-a-row would have rendered Rangers less liable to be invited, along with Celtic, to join an English set-up?



    If Celtic winning a 10th title in succession would have scuppered Desmond’s plans for a personal financial jackpot, why wouldn’t 9, 8 or 7 etc? And how about a quadruple treble and 12 trophies on the bounce?



    It is surely hun-like arrogance to claim that our losing the title was down to sinister reasons rather than that Rangers were the better team over the campaign.

  21. I’d guess there’s a record of how quickly hun opposition rack up early yellas……………

  22. Tom McLaughlin on

    Rob MacLean and Stephen Thompson on BBC Sportsound now contemplating a domestic treble for Rangers.



    Jesus H Christ.

  23. glendalystonsils on

    TOM MCLAUGHLIN on 31ST JULY 2021 2:12 PM






    There’s only one way to shut them up .




    It is surely hun-like arrogance to claim that our losing the title was down to sinister reasons rather than that Rangers were the better team over the surely hun-like arrogance to claim that our losing the title was down to sinister reasons rather than that Rangers were the better team over the campaign.





    Yes, of course ‘they’ were the best team by a country mile. It took three seasons to put that squad together to win one trophy out of nine.That might be the timescale that faces us.



    Let us also remember that Sevco mounted their winning challenge against a faded and failing opponent – I don’t see that being the case as we attempt to get our act together.



    Anyone expecting a lavish spending-spree to kick-start our rebuild should think again. DD would never sanction such a course.