Well, folks, it’s all there now in black and white; the Ibrox financial results have been published and the hole is every bit as deep as we predicted.
Losses, for the last year, of £23.5 million bringing the overall losses since the club was founded to well over £100 million.
Can you imagine what they’d have been without it? On the level of an Aberdeen.
Our club has, once again, lost a title to a team carrying monumental levels of debt, being funded God knows how and from God knows where, a club which doesn’t offer any explanation for its sources of financing because they know that the people who are supposed to care don’t.
They have posted those accounts along with a Going Concern warning.
They are admitting, in effect, that they are on the brink.
That they are trading whilst insolvent.
Their conduct endangers not only their own club but the whole structure on which Scottish football is built; its commercial deals, its standing at UEFA, its credibility with its customer base. They are the precise model of what Financial Fair Play is designed to prevent.
Please understand this; FFP regulations exist for two reasons.
The first is to ensure sporting integrity.
You cannot have a club funded from external sources in a way that enables them to outspend all the clubs around them. The principle of fairness in football is the meritocracy. Clubs can only spend what they earn. If you grow your club organically in the proper way you will reap the rewards.
UEFA and the domestic leagues of Europe long ago realised that with sugar-daddy clubs becoming if not the norm then certainly more common that these were, in effect, attempting to buy success. The clue is in the name; Financial Fair Play.
But as I wrote in a lengthy piece not that long ago, it also exists to protect the sport itself.
It exists to prevent clubs going to the wall, clubs like Gretna, clubs like Rangers.
It exists because the behaviour of these clubs destabilises football. Imagine for a minute that Barcelona and Real Madrid cannot refinance their debts and both collapse … the impact would vibrate through every league, in every country.
This is why those clubs should never have been allowed to get that way in the first place. Our own domestic example – the last Ibrox club – was the warning this game ought not to have needed after the collapse of Gretna.
Ibrox’s selfishness is incredible. The Going Concern warning in those accounts means that their gamble once again risks throwing the rest of the game into crisis. That the rest of the clubs have allowed this is remarkable, and shocking.
That Celtic has never spoken up and publicly backed FFP has effectively tied one hand behind our backs.
If the club at Ibrox collapses, we will suffer huge consequences.
So not only have we allowed them the natural advantage that all cheats have but we’ve actually assumed part of the risk if their gamble fails.
Think about that for a moment.
We have watched as they continued down this track, seeing quite clearly that it was heading one of two ways; to the Second Death or to a financially doped league title. Indeed, I believe we could end up witnessing both.
Whatever our custodians tell themselves when they take their seats in the stand, these people have lamentably failed not only Celtic but the wider game.
If we had publicly taken a lead on the issue of FFP I cannot imagine that it would not have had the support of the other clubs. They all more or less voluntarily subscribe to its basic philosophies anyway … all but one. This failure has only helped Ibrox.
They have been allowed to do what they did post 2012 and I would say minus the EBT’s but we have no idea what other arrangements might exist behind the scenes.
Our directors think that because our club is a model of probity and financial security that this is some kind of triumph.
But it is not triumph to be cheated and humiliated when that possibility was written in neon flashing letters 100 feet tall for a decade and you either failed to see them or ignored them.
It is not a victory when you repeat the same mistakes. It should embarrass you to find yourself on the wrong side of history repeating itself.
Ibrox’s title triumph, amidst those momentous debts, was enabled at Celtic Park and I don’t care how many board apologists wail and whine and moan about that statement.
Our board had a duty to protect our club from exactly this outcome, and they did not do it.
They had a responsibility to the wider game in Scotland to work towards robust regulations in 2012 after the collapse of Rangers and the lessons that should have been learned from it and they didn’t even try.
That is a failure without precedent in our history.
It is a disgrace for which they ought to be held to account.