Aberdeen chairman Dave Cormack gave us a glimpse into the finances of practically every club in Europe by explaining the financial predicament his club finds itself in. They expected £1m in match day income between now and the end of the season, as well as £5m season ticket money by June, summer merchandising income and hospitality income. Instead, they have practically zero income stretching out for an indeterminate number of months – quite possibly until August or September.
Monthly outgoings at Aberdeen are £1.2m, this month’s costs will consume nearly all the £1.5m they had in the bank at the start of the month. How they, and others, meet payroll April, May and June, is a challenge for the industry. Few clubs are as well run as Aberdeen, most will be in more serious peril.
This is not just a Scottish phenomenon; it will play out across Europe. The Championship in England is particularly vulnerable. Around the time of the collapse of ITV Digital, Brian Quinn spoke of the pack ice of European football-broadcasting homogeny showing signs of a break up. That financial crisis in English football passed when the Premier League stepped in to salve any sores.
It remains to be seen what, if any, issues afflict the Premier League. Ticket and merchandising sales are almost irrelevant to the business model in England’s’ top tier. There, it is all about the domestic and international TV deals. It cannot be emphasised enough, Premier League TV deals are absolutely critical to the entire pyramid of English football. If the contracted number of games broadcast for this season or next cannot be fulfilled, the drop in income would have serious consequences.
You and I have been debating structural change in football for too long to get excited about any of this. There is a better chance of things changing now than at any point in the last 18 years, but whatever change takes place will not necessarily involve Celtic. Still, we can ponder….