Successful, sustainable, strategy best in football


Back in 2011 a campaign was launched by Craig Whyte (subsequently adopted by others) to convince Scottish Premier League clubs that Rangers were necessary for their survival, and in the event of a liquidation event, the league should invite a phoenix club into the top flight.

The people at Celtic became aware of this and after the initial revulsion that a team, who at that stage were three-in-a-row champions, could liquidate, then phoenix with the same players and income streams, but without the debts associated with building the playing squad, they ran the numbers.  They asked themselves the question, could we survive without Rangers?

The answer was straightforward, if we can’t survive without Rangers we’re as well not surviving at all.  We needed a strategy which would cope with the drop in income, the lack of domestic competition, but still deliver Champions League competition.  Easy, right?

Not easy but by no means impossible.

Celtic were running at an operational loss without selling players or getting into the Champions League group stage.  That season (2011-12), in reaching the Europa League group stage, we made a £7m loss (mitigated by a later player sale).  The subsequent drop in season ticket sales in a league without Rangers (it happened), drop in associated commercial and match-day ticket sales cost around £5m.  Dropping the price of season tickets by £100 this season arrested the decline in sales, but brought in £4m less than last season.

To balance this, we qualified for the Champions League group stage last season and this, sold £20m worth of talent this summer (and have spent £6m so far on new arrivals).

We have something practically unique in football, a sustainable strategy which is also successful.

Is it without its risks?  No.

Will it tax the team and manager, even against teams like Elfsborg and Shakhter?  Yes.

Is it as good a strategy as we could have?  That is a matter of opinion but results on the park are the only place that matters.

We’ve made lots of decisions so far this summer.  Selling Hooper, Wanyama and Wilson, while bringing in van Dijk, Derk Boerrigter, Balde and Mouyokolo, before getting to this stage.  Would Norwich and Southampton have waited or signed alternatives, leaving us with rapidly depreciating assets?

I’ve no idea, but these are the kind of factors which contribute to each decision.

You can play your hand cautiously, hold the players, risking buyers leave the market, or sign more players early, on the basis that they are available and you are prepared to pay the asking price, irrespective of your valuation. You can certainly give yourself an easier ride by taking decisions against strategy based on pressure.

This would not guarantee success (nothing does) but it would further mitigate the risk of failure, however, it would potentially leave fewer resources to build a team which can reach further still.

We played a more ambitious hand.  Strategy was adhered to, which looked a folly, to some, a week ago.

For the first time in 40 years we have a sustainable, successful, team development strategy, which is only just beginning to bear fruit.  It is too tempting to take those fruits and blow them on the same strategy most of our UK-based peers do in an attempt to guarantee entry to the promised land.

Faith in the squad, manager and scouts was rewarded.  Whether you like it or not, we have one of the best development strategies in football.  Well done, Celtic.

Neil Lennon is an ambitious man but if he thinks he can stem the “disgusting” “hysterical” reaction to a Celtic defeat he is overreaching.  Some will learn but others will have rationalised their reaction within a second of the manager’s comments being made.  ‘Tis the nature of the beast.

Well done to everyone who attended last night. The place wasn’t full but there is something about a Celtic Park crowd of around that size which seems more effective than when we’re crammed in.

Enjoy being a Celtic supporter.
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  1. Truth_Beauty_and_Freedom on

    Hi fellow Celtic Fans,



    What a fantastic day to be a Celtic Fan! Dog tired today but I can’t get enough! I am sure Big Billy will be praying for divine intervention when he makes the draw at 4pm today. I for one can’t wait.



    Any news on the Pokemin Kid?



    Yours in Celtic,




  2. stevietar - putting second rate teams in the second division on

    My favourite bit was when Celtic scored that goal right at the end.

  3. Truth_Beauty_and_Freedom on

    Just read the article…



    After a FANTASTIC night like last night, why are we spoiling things by talking about some diddy team from the south side of Glasgow?




  4. coatbridge paper bhoy on

    can i have raspberry on that champions league ice cream



    12:31 on 29 August, 2013


    My calf is stilling killing me.


    Wish you pulled it in the 3rd minute, …..three nil going on seven .



  5. coatbridge paper bhoy on

    omacelt – penalties not required



    12:33 on 29 August, 2013


    Have I made the team?


    Your in



  6. stevietar - putting second rate teams in the second division on

    I don’t believe it. Post number 5. Last night and now this. I promised myself I wan’t going to cry……..

  7. blantyretim is praying for the Knox family on



    Mini told me and described you.


    Lounges in north stand not a patch on the kerrydale lounge as was..


    Feeding time at tge zoo and the usual fans who go down at 40 minutrs and reappear 50minytes.. gkad they missed the goals..8)


    DBBIA replied on previous thread..!

  8. A gutsy and structured performance last night. Should be interesting to see how the draw goes and who we get in. Being part of the Celtic family is the best part though.

  9. LiviBhoy - God bless wee Oscar on

    Pesky new article! Hahaha



    Jonny the Tim supporting wee Oscar



    I said it from last week mate. Delighted the team proved me right. We were the better team over there. I likened them to St Mirren. It was similar to the League Cup semi last season. That was the comparison. We should have scored over there a few times. Over two legs we would have beat St Mirren. That was the reason for comparison.


    The home leg was their cup final. They had all to play for and rode their luck. If we had a proper goalscorer I would have had no doubt we would have scored first out there and last night would have been easier. It wasn’t but Celtic are a different animal at home. We done the business. I always knew we would. We need to stregnthen for the CL but most teams do. The board have taken the tact to take their time and do their business in such a way. I think the manager disagree’s with that policy at times. They put him under pressure but he delivered. We must now back him. Dare I say he has been our most succesful manager in Europe since Jock Stein? With the resources he has? Not sure if the stattos can support that claim but he has probably generated more money for the club than any manager in our history through European involvement due to the increased revenues UEFA have ammassed in this league format.


    Celtic are formidable in Europe at home. That Karagandy were a very ordinary side. We rode our luck a wee bit with the one off the bar but we had more chances. If they had scored I thought we would have got more goals. I was confident of a clean sheet tho.


    Celtic are through. All that matters.


    Thanks for remembering my confidence. I just viewed the first game and the tie and weighed up the two teams. Even with a few injuries and players not 100% I knew we had the quality to dispatch that team.


    Hope Neil Lennon gets the players we need to have a good go at the CL. He deserves it. His contract has been adjusted but not increased. Is there a release clause inserted. Back him with what he needs or he will end up walking. His stock is high. Very high! he is young and his best years are ahead of him. We need to keep him at Paradise. he has the knack on the big occassion. A special period in our history is unfolding.



    Mon the Hoops




  10. Josimar is Neil Lennon on

    my lucky Rio Fergus McCann CSC T shirt played a blinder last night!



    the lucky champions league jumper will now be brought out for the colder autumn nights.




  11. macjay1 for Neil Lennon on

    macjay1 for Neil Lennon


    12:33 on


    29 August, 2013


    ernie lynch


    11:35 on


    29 August, 2013



    I can go along with everything you say.


    However,Lenny wears his heart on his sleeve.I happen to believe he is also a man of principle.He was prepared to walk at half time in the 3-3 Killie game.


    If he was being sidelined or kept out of the loop with player signings,I happen to believe he would walk.


    I repeat .He has frequently emphasised how much he values his working relationship with P.L.I believe him.


    In the quotation you referred to,he may just have meant that he does not personally negotiate with prospective signings.


    Time will tell.


    In the meantime,lets all enjoy the ride.


    Life`s too short

  12. BT



    Yir right shoulda had a few with us…..you trying to out sprint me didn’t help…..






    It was me that tried to contact you to meet up with the bhoys….




  13. jude2005 is Neil Lennon \o/ on

    How the hell can TBF type all that and land top?? I smell a bit of insider dealing here!!



    Only kidding BTW!!

  14. A Stor Mo Chroi on




    Can I ask you a simplistic question, we have our income, the rest of the SPL teams have theirs, if we are struggling to break even how are the other teams managing to fare?



    I’m aware that we have overheads way above the others but we also have a Support that numbers close to all the other teams combined.

  15. MOTM for me was the oft maligned Efe, he was immense.


    Samaras, Lustig, Matthews were also great on the night.


    What an atmosphere, what a night, well done Celtic, we live to fight another day.


    Lenny’s celebrations were a delight to see when I watched the game when I got home.



    Ever upwards Celts, Europe beckons again.



    Meanwhile over on the dark side, gnashing of teeth, tears and sour grapes from Bill McMurdo, his dad was a twat, wee Bill is follow, following in his daddies footsteps, enjoy Celts, this blog is a blast: http://billmcmurdo.wordpress.com/

  16. The possibilities of the draw are widely different.I hope we avoid the English teams as it all becomes tedious with that Battle of Britain sh1te in the media. Would like also to avoid Barca, Juve and Benfica again. A trip to Germany or Holland would be most welcome.




  17. ....PFayr supports WeeOscar on

    Invest in players and the squad will be developed



    We need to replace the three players who have left … Insofar as we are able



    Failure to do so will not be developing the team

  18. Snake



    from the last article, I agreed with a lot of what you said but feel you are harsh where Forrest is concerned. It wasn’t his best night but he did more than you remember



    Early doors he shot which the keeper saved leading to a corner



    He then crossed for Stokes on 10 minutes which led to a header that the keeper did will to push away



    He also crossed for Stokes to volley off the bar, so 2 crosses that were very dangerous and led to excellent chances.



    He also popped up in the perfect position to finish a great jinking run and great cut back to him from Stokesy and score the tie winning goal.



    All in all not a bad nights work, could it have been better? Maybe but I was happy enough with his overall contribution.

  19. coatbridge paper bhoy on

    jude2005 is neil lennon \o/


    Read back, saw your post re ; you should be in bed. Well, I was up for work?. ….I’ve got a big paper round. !. Got to star early.



  20. LiviBhoy - God bless wee Oscar on

    A very sobering article P67.


    You make some very good points.


    No mention of the penalty kicks you mentioned all week though. I knew they would never be an issue.


    Commons goal was tremendous. That keeper reminded me of watching the weak link Sarti in the 1967 European Cup Final. he played out of his skin until we got the screamer from Kris. Another one of those special nights at Paradise that the whole of Europe is raving about!




  21. blantyretim is praying for the knox family



    12:34 on 29 August, 2013



    Some of us canny afford to get caught in the crush of the daytrippers who canny do without bevvy for a couple of hours and seem to magically appear on occasions like last night

  22. Paul67



    A more balanced and considered explanation of our spending, our policy and our restrictive environment this time around. You have managed to reign in the exasperation that unbalanced your last recent try.



    I agree with your conclusion on Neil’s comment. Unfortunately, there will not be a let up in over dramatic, hyperbolic, towel chucking the first time we get a bad result. Two of our ain tabloid thinking merchants, the four lettered-posters Kojo and KevJ, will ensure that CQN will be plastered with such judgmental stirrings quite regularly. I believe that some of Neil’s comments last night were directed at our own internet community too.

  23. The Spirit Of Arthur Lee on

    Walking back to happiness, woopah oh yeah yeah


    Said goodbye to lonliness, woopah oh yeah yeah


    I never knew I’d miss you


    Now I know what I must do


    Walking back to happiness


    I shared with you


    (Yay, yay, yay, yay ba dum be do)

  24. Joe Filippis Haircut on

    My memory isnt as good as it used to be (old age ) So can somone tell me the name of the music they play before each CL game ? H.H.

  25. tommytwiststommyturns supporting Wee Oscar on

    P67 – take on “bored” all that you’ve said, but the planning for next summer cannot be as poor as this one. The final qualifying round was real seat of the pants stuff and has caused huge friction within the support.



    It’s also quite ironic, as Scottishleaf pointed out at the end of the last article, that we’ll continue to play three qualifying rounds because you-know-you isn’t there anymore! Swines still causing us problems even after their death….!



    Scottishleaf – agree with you entirely about summer football. The provincial clubs need to be better prepared for these EL games or the national co-efficient will continue to plummet.



    Andy Walker on SSN saying that Neil Lennon’s future could be away from Celtic….get lost, ya wee Uncle Tim.




  26. ArranmoreBhoyLXV11 on




    What a glorious day to be a part of Celtic Football Club..



    Remember those who went before us,remember the Bombast of Minty, Whyte,Green, the SFA,THE SMSM.. The sleekit Sally,the establishment..



    Then pause.. Breathe deep and think YES, they must be hurting!




  27. blantyretim is praying for the Knox family on

    Just watched walker om ssn..


    I should heve let my oldman go over and kick his ass last night..O))

  28. Thanks and well done to Neil and everyone else that contributed to entry to Champions League this season.



    I heard the ‘last minute goal’, etc…… Play till the final whistle and every minute is the same in the game

  29. A Stor Mo Chroi on

    setting free the bears (from previous thread)



    At no time did he explicitly or implicitly state that the signings should have been there already, regardless of their quality or price. He seems resigned, rather than comfortable, to the policy that dictates we have to wait until nearer the end of the window to complete our signings, and that this has always been the case. This is not new and we are not alone in this.



    How does such a statement reflect on the players we have already signed?

  30. Yorkbhoy@12:43






    12:38 on 29 August, 2013


    If anyone gets the chance listen to Aberdeen Supporter Liam McLeods BBC commentary when the goals are scored last night,contrary to popular opinion on here no everyone is against us (or just maybe it’s because they sacrificed his bird last week)

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