Earlier this week, Phil Mac Giolla Bhain broke the news that the Ibrox club had intended to take advantage of a government scheme which would have allowed them to defer publication of their accounts until June of next year.
I saw no sense in that action, except in that it would prevent us from getting a look at how appalling the underlying numbers were.
But to do so would have created six months of speculation which even the media could not have entirely ignored.
It made sense that they would jump before then.
Indeed, I said earlier in the week that I had expected them to be published a fortnight ago when they were riding high and the international games were about to start.
The timing was perfect.
Well, I guess some at Ibrox were against the idea of keeping them hidden much longer, because they published them this evening after nine o’clock – that was the first sign that they were going to be utterly disastrous.
No company releases good news late on a Friday night; you do that only if you want the bad news well and truly buried.
It is cynical, but in PR terms it’s also ingenious.
The press will do no real digging into those numbers; why would they?
They never do.
Yet those figures are every bit as shocking as many of us anticipated, revealing a mammoth hole in the Ibrox finances.
The lost more than £15 million last season, and only the tail end of that campaign was affected by the global health emergency. Remember, we posted a profit for the same period and the press focussed on how much less it was than one 12 months before.
In spite of three debt-for-equity swaps already this season, those accounts reveal that the club will need another £8 million in additional funding to get through the season. They already project a loss far in excess of £10 million for this campaign; you could double that, easily, and still not be there.
Those accounts paint a picture of a club entirely dependent on director’s loans for what we have to laughingly call their “business model.”
Personally speaking, I don’t see how they can possibly meet European Financial Fair Play obligations, even with UEFA’s waiving of certain criteria for this season.
Those are not the accounts of a company that even knows how to get out of the hole they are in.
I’m not going to do a big thing on this tonight, but this is clearly a story which is going to be picked up tomorrow by all of the blogs, and I guarantee you we’re going to give it more scrutiny than the mainstream media. There are things in there that simply jump off the page at you, and this on very limited examination. I’m sure deeper digger will reveal more.
Suffice to say this evening that our so-called rivals are in a shocking state. Yet for all that they sit at the top of the SPL. You cannot look at those figures and not wonder how one club is allowed to play these games with its finances whilst the rest try to follow the course of prudence and self-sufficiency. They only get away with it because the rest allow it, and that includes Celtic.
Woe betide our directors if this financially doped basket case wins this title.
There will be no hiding place for them.
The magnitude of their failure in not doing something to prevent precisely this scenario is vast, and in the week where they are boasting to shareholders, who’s motion on football governance they have rejected, about how robust they believe the regulations are … well, it’s damning.
Talk about fiddling whilst Rome burns.