Ibrox is on the verge of another signing, and amidst the fanfare you have to marvel at that.
They really do look like they could spend a large chunk, perhaps even majority of, the Bassey transfer fee.
Oh the fiscal insanity of it. At spending, it seems to me, for the sake of doing so.
They have money in the bank, finally, and it’s almost as if it burns a hole in their pocket.
Even without their spending reaching the levels of ours – it won’t – and in spite of a huge sum brought in for Bassey, it is crystal clear that they will continue to flirt with death and disaster.
A surplus now doesn’t mean that there aren’t rainy days ahead.
Auldheid, who keeps a closer watch on this stuff than just about anybody out there, tells me that we now have to ditch the term Financial Fair Play. The new phrase we’re all going to have to familiarise ourselves with is Financial Sustainability And Club Licensing Regulations. FSCLR. That’s the new term that you’re going to be seeing a lot of.
In order to fully understand why Ibrox’s spending is what we’ve described it – fiscal insanity – you have to remember that there is a mighty difference between Champions League income and Europa League money, and although the gap isn’t the £40 million that the press sometimes broadcasts, it is nonetheless sizeable.
Yet calls for Celtic to spend the entirety on their “Champions League pot of gold” is manifestly dumb.
We continue to be fiscally responsible.
Ibrox may have closed the gap with in this window, and if they can qualify for the Group Stages themselves then they might be financially secure for the next couple of seasons … but a club that spends as recklessly and with as much abandon as they do isn’t going to be financially secure for very long.
Contrary to popular opinion, Celtic’s profitability is not based on selling a key player every single year.
If it was then we would sell a key player every single year.
Celtic’s profitability is built on maintaining a delicate balance between income and expenditure; this ought not to sound revolutionary. It is practical and sensible.
But we operate in an industry – and in this city – where practical and sensible are somehow frowned upon and looked at askew. This is why the idea of Celtic and the biscuit tin has long been offensive to some of us.
Are there years when we could have done more?
Yes. We have, at times, taken ridiculous decisions to play “wait and see” rather than measuring risk versus reward … but that isn’t rooted in penny pinching but a conservative fiscal strategy.
It’s often called “risk averse.” It is painfully difficult to watch at times, but those in charge of the club believe that it keeps us strong and generates results. You look at our successes in the last 20 odd years and mounting a counter argument seems daft.
Don’t get me wrong, I have mounted that counter argument and will do so again … but those on the board’s side of those arguments do have a case and that’s why these debates don’t just die.
On top of that, we had Lawwell, who seemed to think that playing poker over every deal was the way to assure that the club was being run right. That he was so woeful at it, and that it cost us in several major negotiations, isn’t something even the most pro-board fan could deny. It is almost amazing how much easier negotiations have been recently.
Still, Celtic runs itself stably and soundly and responsibly.
We will post a large profit from last season. We will certainly post a major one from this campaign.
What that allows us to do is put money in the bank for those infrastructure projects and any rainy days which come along. COVID should certainly have taught us that this is possible. It doesn’t even necessarily have to be something on that order.
Imagine we just have a bad couple of seasons … lower than anticipated participation in cup competitions and bad results in Europe. A downturn in season tickets maybe, because the cost of living crisis makes it hard for people to afford them.
Celtic is well placed to survive such a turn of events. Celtic does not depend on Champions League income nor the sale of key players; we have a sustainable model which works and which manages to generate small profits even in a relatively turbulent year … and in the truly bad years, we take a tax deduction, post a loss and dip into the funds in the bank.
What you have to remember about Ibrox is that the operation over there has been working at nearly full capacity for the last few years. Even with good runs in Europe they have still not posted profits.
Their current euphoria is based on selling two players in the last 12 months for large sums and a European run where they won seven out of twenty-one games and got to a final on the back of it.
You could call that sound strategy … or a run of luck. And luck runs out.
They are building a future based on long runs in Europe and the sale of key players … neither of those things in guaranteed, and a “jam today” philosophy is lunacy.
I enjoy poker, and one of the things that constantly astonishes me is how many people go All In with a bad hand.
Celtic, right now, has a very strong hand … so it makes little sense for Ibrox to go All In against us when they know we aren’t bluffing.
But imagine they pushed all of their chips into the middle of the table.
We would only need to match them, because we have more chips to spare.
What, for them, comes down to an all or nothing proposition would, for us, be a choice between conserving what we have and letting them take one particular pot, or facing them down, knowing that even if we lost this one that we were still very much in the game.
That’s a big advantage to have.
We are just better at this than they are.
We are playing a careful, steady game … they are the ones who see having money as nothing but a chance to spend money.
They are still on a great adventure.
But it’s the same one that always leads to trouble over there.