Date: 30th August 2018 at 6:01pm
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Tonight Sevco scraped their way into the Group Stages of the Europa League. This paragraph is the last time they’ll be mentioned in this article. This article isn’t about them, except in one respect; during this window they took a calculated risk and it paid off. Their summer spending will be covered by the Europa League run. They scored big time here and they had to, because failure would have been cataclysmic. That’s where they differ from us. It may be reckless beyond belief to go that extra mile, but they always do it. Always.

Celtic is the best run club in Scotland, sitting on a mountain of money. But we’re a football club that fuels a business; the business is supposed to fuel the football club and that’s where our board is scandalously lax and complacent.

The risk that would have been necessary to give us our best possible chance of Champions League qualification – our best chance; there are no guarantees – would not have been a sizeable one; a decent signing at centre half would have made the world of difference. I do not believe that player would have cost us more than we could afford. We claim to be risk averse. In fact, our policy is scandalously risky.

It has cost us more than just money in this window.

One of the stupidest defences of our current “strategy” is that tired old garbage about not wanting to end up like Rangers; what happened at that club was a result of decades of over-spending with someone else’s money and a refusal to change their policies when the taps were turned off. It was inevitable that they’d crash the moment they hit a year without European football.

Celtic is a club without significant debts. We posted a profit of £17 million last year. We are one of the few clubs in Europe sitting on a cash surplus. It will be even bigger this time next year when the manager has walked and we’ve sold Tierney and Ntcham.

And if you don’t think that’ll happen think again; it’s where we’re headed on the current trajectory. The manager is not going to sit there whilst the club spends millions on lightbulbs and fails to get him the signings he wants. Players like those two are not going to be here long once he’s shut the door on his way out. Our priorities are very badly skewed.

Nobody, at any time, has suggested that we overextend.

Bringing in footballers to strengthen the side in advance of the Champions’ League Group Stages would not have exposed us to a significant level of risk. Even in the most extreme scenario, we could have solved the problem easily by selling a top player. We’d still be a stronger squad than we are now, where Dembele will go anyway with no real time to bring in a proper replacement and the team will be weakened and the cash will simply offset the damage we’ve done to ourselves.

There is no getting away from it; the risk we take in “not taking risks” is enormous and you have to remember that before Brendan came along it was a gamble which had cost us two seasons in a row under Ronny Deila. People slapping themselves on the back for two consecutive qualifications ought to be reminded that we’re now two for five.

There are people online already gearing up to defend the way this window has gone by telling us that we “did our summer business in January”; a falsehood so brazen that it makes you blanch. They will be telling us next to wait until the next window opens to see how brilliant the backing for the manager is.

They have no shame, but one Hell of a sense of humour.

Some of them are already spinning in advance by telling us how the January window is even tougher than this one … not only glossing over this failure but laying the ground for the next one too.

This summer, as other clubs were assembling teams, we were buying lightbulbs. It was funny to think, back then, that we’d spend more on those fancy electrics than other clubs would spend on players. It is not funny any longer now we know that they and a handful of free transfers and loans were as good as it was going to get.

(I am not counting Edouard; he was here last season. His signing maintained the team, it did not strengthen it.)

Other clubs pushed the boat out and took their chances. The consequences of failure would have been enormous, sure, but that’s part of what makes it incredible than we weren’t prepared to roll the dice with so little downside whereas they shot for the moon.

We relied on luck. They manufactured some of their own.

I couldn’t even tell you how this story ends, but for today our board ought to hang their heads in shame. But they won’t, partly because they know what I do. Nobody is going to hold them to account for any of this. Our fans won’t pressure them, season ticket money is already banked, three shirts have been released and sold well and the share price is at its highest point. All’s well, right? Yes, if you’re a football club that funds a business and not a business that funds a football club.

Our “risk averse” board have driven a wrecking ball through our squad in this window, but their bonuses are secure.

Punting our best player will make sure of that.

They’ve gotten away with murder here.