Maybe Celtic should sue Ronny Deila for lost earnings? Say, about £10million?
The club has announced a return to profit for 2015/16, £500k in the black compared to a £3.9m loss the previous season. The caveats? Firstly, the period encompasses season ticket sales up to the end of June 2016, which increased dramatically following the arrival of Brendan Rodgers and the prospect of two home games against Rangers (edit - Graeme Hutchings on Twitter has pointed out that season ticket sales for 2016/17 will be treated as deferred income). Secondly, as the club freely admitted, player sales were a significant factor - more than £12m of income, in fact.
The conclusion? Celtic run at a loss of about £5m a year if they don't make the Champions League, in which case they have to sell a top player for big money to balance the books. Last season it was Virgil Van Dijk. The year before that it was Fraser Forster. Had they shipped just one more goal in Israel against Hapoel Beer-Sheva, one wonders whether they had anyone left who would command an eight figure transfer fee?
But it couldn't be more clear that the powerbrokers at Parkhead needed to punt Deila and bring in a competent manager. Because Celtic's presence in the 2016/17 Champions League will be worth in excess of £20m to them, even if they do end up getting thumped 7-0 every fortnight. That should keep the accountants happy.
We can understand why the prospect of Europe's elite competition becoming a closed shop would cause Peter Lawwell to come out in a sweat. Without that avenue, drastic downsizing would be required, regardless of the average attendance at Celtic Park. In fact, the massive reliance on UEFA monies also makes a move to England rather less palatable, given that Celtic would surely have to start in League Two or lower; at least three years of drastically reduced income even if things went swimmingly (which would certainly not be a given).
Whilst it doesn't sound like the safest of business plans, it seems to be about the only one that keeps Celtic at their current level. Becoming more competitive at continental level would require a level of investment that Dermot Desmond baulks at, while cutting costs (or keeping Deila in charge) would run the risk of missing the Champions League every year, leading to a never-ending cycle of downsizing until, potentially, the club's domestic hegemony could come under threat.
Which allows me to segue ungracefully onto my next point. Whilst these final results probably make Celtic fans feel a little uneasy, they should make Rangers fans downright nauseous. While we don't have enough detail yet to know what the gap in staff budget for last season was, it's unlikely to have narrowed too much from 2014/15...where Celtic's staff costs were £33.2m, compared to Rangers' £13.2m. So at that point Celtic were spending 250% more. That's not so much a gap as a flipping chasm. No wonder that there were four clear goals between them a couple of weekends back.
But that's what Rangers have to try to bridge if they are to knock their rivals off their perch. And until they do so, they won't have access to the Champions League riches that they desire (not unless something crazy happens to the coefficient, like a repeat of 1967!). The Catch 22, of course, is that they need those riches to be able to go toe-to-toe with Celtic in the first place.
Or, you know, Rangers could find a sugar daddy willing to spend his children's inheritance on the club, but good luck with that...
Lawrie Spence (LS) has ranted and spouted his ill-informed opinions on Narey's Toepoker since September 2007. He has a life outside this blog. Honestly.