So the Ibrox club has spent its first real money of the current window, in a deal that even at its most expensive as reported by the press is half what we paid for the French defender Christopher Jullien, and around about what we forked out for Boli Bolingoli-Mbombo.
This time last year we broke the club transfer record for Odsonne Edouard.
That record of £6 million was topped again when we signed Jullien.
Although some people are reluctant to accept this – and I include some of our own fans – Celtic is wide awake here, and doing better business than many of us thought.
One will almost certainly be the long awaited right back.
I don’t know what the Ibrox NewCo spent on their central defender, but I know it wasn’t near the £4.5 million that the press breathlessly reported last week. Even they no longer claim that. Some of them said, this morning, that the fee “could rise to £3.5 million with add-ons.”
So it starts to make more sense now, or as much sense as anything over there does.
This has sparked media speculation that the club is “back.” But they must think we have short memories. The Ibrox club has spent money in the last two summers, more money indeed than Celtic, and they have never spent it particularly well.
Caixinha squandered a fortune on Mexican and Portuguese dross. Gerrard squandered his on Albanian junk.
They spent £3 million on Connor Goldson, and the media has never once bothered to ask if that made the slightest bit of sense.
That they already signed two centre backs in this window suggests that the club itself isn’t particularly convinced.
This has sparked nonsense talk of a football “arms race” between the club and Celtic, which Lennon has explicitly shunned.
Because the idea is a joke.
Lennon says Celtic feels no need to engage in a show of one-upsmanship; we are building our own club, not watching what someone else is doing across the road, and their actions in no way influence ours.
But the truth that the media still cannot quite bring itself to face up to is much simpler than that; the truth is that even if the Ibrox club wanted to play such games with us, they are grossly overmatched and outgunned. There is no “contest” to be had here.
We can afford to spend big money on players, they cannot. We can afford to strengthen the club with a marquee signing, they cannot. We are sitting on a surplus, they are not. They are sitting on a debt volcano, Celtic isn’t.
This is not complicated stuff, but apparently it is too tough for the media to understand.
Earlier today, The Herald at least posed the question; “Does Filip Helander mark return of big spending at Rangers or a desperate gamble?”
The article wonders if the move is entirely rational, or if it’s King risking everything to stop ten in a row.
McPherson doesn’t just ask that question, he attempts – at first anyway – to explore the situation properly. One paragraph hints at the depths of the hole the club is in.
“(Their) finances remain a tangled web. In their latest annual accounts published last October for the year ended June 2018, they announced a loss of £14.3m despite an upturn in both season ticket sales and turnover. Operating expenses were an eye-watering £38.9m.”
But just when it seems to be heading in the right direction, off the writer goes down a path in the opposite direction.
“Fast forward to February of this year, however, and figures for the six-month period up until the end of 2018 look rosier. A return to the group stage of European competition for the first time since 2010 made a significant impact as the club posted pre-tax profits of £5.1m.”
Which as regular readers will know does not remotely reflect the actual truth of what’s in those books; those are unaudited numbers, and in all likelihood utter tosh. We await the actual annual accounts to be sure, but I’m betting the club finished last season in debt again.
Some credit should go to McPherson for even putting the question forward, but it seems that he had no real interest in answering it.
It is the media here at its finest, going just so far towards questioning the Ibrox narrative before backing away and accepting the broad strokes of it.
Celtic can afford to spend, because our business model is sustainable.
Last season, even without Champions League football, the sale of Moussa Dembele or the £9 million we got from Rodgers’ departure, we would probably have lost only a modest sum.
The Ibrox club’s wages to earnings ratio – and this before Gerrard brought in Davis and Defoe, and before this close season’s spending – was 73.8%.
If that club had to live within its means and earn only what it spent it would not have been able to make any signing at all in this window. The £32.6 million revenue from their last accounts doesn’t allow for spending 1/10th of the sum on a single player; that’s just the simple reality of it.
Our wages to turnover ratio is 58%, which is significantly less and actually comfortably under the so-called “red line” which is 70% … the Ibrox club is over that, as you can see.
This club is so dysfunctional it took, today, the bizarre step of opening a “pop up store” for its merchandise … in a pub.
The media doesn’t even want to touch that … and yet it’s a story that flashes up all manner of questions.
Nothing they have done lately alters that equation in a way that is beneficial.
The spending of money – any money at all – is a suicidal strategy pushing them closer to the point of crisis. If they should exit Europe before the Group Stages, the run up to the closing of the window will be a life-or-death dash to sell whoever they can for whatever they can get.
The media does not even want to think about – let alone write about – the implications of that.
The only race the Ibrox club is involved in is the race to the graveyard, as the second club from that ground to reach it.
No wonder Lennon, and Celtic, want nothing to do with it.