£80 Million In Earnings Opens Up A Gap That Might Never Be Closed

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I said the other day that I would do a piece on Celtic’s accounts and what they meant, and so here it is. To cut a long story short, it’s a record breaking number. No club in Scotland has ever earned that kind of cash in a single year. It’s unprecedented.

One of the best received articles I ever wrote on Fields was called The Numbers Game, where I went over Dave King’s statement that Rangers’ success was built on their fans outspending ours year on year. It proved to be a lie. Of course.

I examined a period between 2001-2010 and could find two years where their club earned more than ours. Over that ten year period our earnings average was higher than theirs. Split the ten years into two five year periods and it was higher than theirs in both.

In 2001-05 we earned, on average, £8 million a year more than them every single year. In 2006-10 that number went up. Incredibly, we earned £15 million a year more than them over that time. Our average for the ten year period was £63 million.

In our last published annual accounts (2015-16) our revenues were £52 million. As you can see, that is on the extreme low side compared to the ten year period 2001-2010. That was a year without Champions League football.

Here’s where Sevco’s grand delusion – that even European money might save them – falls down dead.

Are you ready for this? Here goes.

Their average annual turnover between 2001-2010 – and remember that this was the alleged height of their financial power – was £52.1 million … lower than we made last year in a relatively poor performance.  Our lowest turnover during that period was a year – the first one, 2000-01 – when we bottomed out with £42 million. Rangers won their third title in a row and played in the Champions League, whereas we played Europa League qualifiers and didn’t even reach the Groups.

We would consider that year something of a disaster.

It was one of the two years in that timeframe when they finished ahead of us, but their total take for that season was £47 million … with Group stage games. That’s less than our take for last season, which was achieved without the lucrative competition.

In 2001-02, the treble season, we made £56 million with Group games and an upturn in season ticket sales.

We have never fallen below £50 million in annual income since.

2001-02 was the low point, and we’ve never got near it again.

Rangers income – and remember, we’re constantly told this was the high point of their earning potential – dropped below £50 million four times … and one season they dropped below £40 million, with a full Ibrox and a proper merchandising arm.

That was in 2008-09, when Kaunas knocked them out of the Champions League and their accounts showed income of just £39 million.

Our turnover that year was £72 million, which is what makes the three years that followed particularly unpalatable as they won the league each year in spite of what ought to have been a massive financial gap … that’s the one red, flashing, warning sign we better be paying heed to at the current time.

As I’ve said already, Rangers last three league titles – their last ever – were the result of mistakes made inside Celtic Park. They weren’t proof of some structural failing at our club. Our turnover was more than theirs in every year. It was disgraceful that they were allowed to win those three titles, and more heads than just that of Tony Mowbray should have rolled for it. I trust that lessons have been learned from that, and those mistakes won’t be repeated.

Our historical high earnings mark was in 2013; that year we made £75 million, on the back of Champions League cash and the sale of top players. It’s an incredible sum, but we are set to smash it, completely, with this year on the back of no major sales at all. Our earnings last season were pretty low compared to the average for those ten years, but it was still more than Rangers earned in five of their last ten years of existence.

Even at the height of their earning power in that time, their best year saw them make almost £62 million, with Champions League money including knock-out stage qualification. Sevco won’t get near that number at any stage; Rangers did it once in their last decade, with their turnover dropping below £50 million four times in the same period.

No club in Scotland has ever posted £80 million plus earnings in a season. Sevco will finish £40 million behind that at a minimum … it could be as high as £50 million. This won’t translate into a major profit gap – we will probably post a modest seven figure profit whilst they are expected to make a modest seven figure loss – but that’s unimportant anyway; the real damage is done in what the respective clubs can afford to spend.

Our outgoings – including salaries etc – were over £50 million last year and could be as high as £60 million this year … almost twice their total income.

And that’s a gap they simply can’t even start to bridge.

They cling to the fantasy that we are “one bad year” away from administration; what utter nonsense they believe in. Last year we earned £52 million and the year before that we earned £51 million, with no Champions League qualification in either year. Those were significantly underperforming years for us, our lowest in a long time.

In 2014-15 we made a small loss of £3.95 million.

Last year we made a £0.5 million profit.

We were still financially equipped to go out and hire Brendan Rodgers.

For the record; even in a dreadful year of sub £50 million earnings – remember, we’ve never fallen below that psychologically significant number since 2001 – we would simply cut our cloth a little to suit. The sale of one player – and it doesn’t even need to be Dembele – would probably come close to balancing the books in such circumstances.

Suffer two such years in a row and we may have to cut a few things.

It would take three or more to significantly impact us to the point where we’d need to be concerned, a series of events so unlikely – akin to failure to qualify for Europe or being knocked out before the Groups in either competition in sequential years – as to be virtually inconceivable.

Even then, I find it hard to imagine our figures ever dropping to that level.

In the one year in recent times when we have failed to qualify for either the Europa League or Champions League Groups – season 2010-11 – our turnover was not that much different from it’s been the last two years; £52.56 million in a year of virtually no player sales and only two home European games.

To put it bluntly, nothing short of an absolute calamity – an Act of God style disaster – would hurt us to the point where we’d be even slightly concerned about our standing in the game. I cannot imagine any circumstances at all which would threaten our future.

The figures released this week underline the full scale of the trouble they face in trying to catch us. It has long been the case that Sevco’s biggest problem was not Celtic, but the perception that they are, in fact, Rangers. To cling to that fantasy was always dangerous. It is now revealed as being mortally so. Because Rangers was never our equal in the first place in terms of our ability to outspend them. They existed for so long because the banks tolerated a level which was unsustainable. Ours never was. The gap between the two clubs has always been there … it just wasn’t always reflected on the pitch as well as it might have been.

Sevco had no chance, right from the start.

Few people still adequately appreciate the totality of what happened in 2012; Rangers was washed away, and Sevco was built on a fraction of the infrastructure and their spending power. The notion of trying to match even Rangers’ level of spending – far less ours – was rank madness from the start, which has all but assured that for at least the next decade they will be deep in our shadow.

Because the numbers do not lie, and these are damning.

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