One of the most obvious issues that arose from the Ibrox accounts yesterday is that with the margins so small, and Van Bronckhorst’s on-the-record comments about the Champions League not generating the huge sums the media assumes, that there won’t necessarily be a huge sum of money for their manager when next summer comes around.
People in their support make big assumptions. The main one is that Champions League qualification and the sale of two players guarantees a bit kitty for the manager. But much of that money won’t be available to them. Some of it has been swallowed up by signings which are already made. Some of it never was earned in the first place because it depended on better results and a longer European run. Other things may yet happen which reduces the pot further.
Most obvious of course is that they might have to pay off their manager and his entire backroom team, at a tremendous cost. If their preferred candidates are already in work – and right now there is a race against the clock going on there too when it comes to Dyche – they would have to pay to get them out of their current contracts.
Some of their fans take heart from what Ange achieved. It shows what is possible and what is not. But there are a number of factors here too which they either haven’t considered or perhaps just don’t want to as we move towards the World Cup.
Ange’s rebuild has been one of the most extensive in Celtic’s history, and it has been easily the costliest. He has had more money to spend on this team than any of his predecessors. That he has done brilliantly with it is pretty near miraculous.
What those accounts make clear is that there is no room to give the next Ibrox manager the kind of funds he will need to compete with a Celtic squad which has been so expensively assembled and which is so professionally drilled.
The size of their required rebuild is formidable. Of the new signings this summer, who has made a real impact? Tillman? One good game out of every five? Davies? A lot of their fans have real doubts about him. Lawrence? It’s not for nothing that no club in England took a punt on him; the reasons are already clear in his lengthy injury lay-off.
Aside from these guys, who are all on bumper contracts, are the number of footballers who they have to try to replace, including Kent and Morelos. One of the reasons our rebuild was even possible was that we sold key players in order to fund it.
Aside from those guys, where is the high value in their squad? You look around it and you see a bleak, desolate landscape where only Glen Kamara might get them anything like a decent fee, and it’ll be nowhere near the eight figure nonsense some hoped once.
In light of that, the door appears closed on them doing the sort of extensive rebuild we were able to afford, and it’s certainly closed on them doing it at our level. When you look at the costs of some of the players we were able to buy, that appears a task far beyond their modest means.
Most important, I think, might prove to be the record of Ross Wilson, as their head of recruitment. The board seems to have faith in him, and he will almost certainly survive any cull of the management team. He was brought in as the wonderkid, the genius who was going to tap into his vast reservoir of knowledge and skill to find them quality.
That’s not turned out so well. His record so far has been abysmal and there is growing evidence that he makes the final judgement on signings and not the guy in the dugout. With him still running that side of things there is little to no hope of a real turnaround.
Integrating a team together takes time too. Ange’s method for doing so has been exemplary. Picking not just the right players but the right personalities is clearly a fabulous wait to go about the business of squad building … what a credit to him that he’s done this quickly, as well as efficiently. But when you’re dealing with a small budget and the clock is ticking there isn’t always a whole lot of time to do your due diligence.
I know a lot of them cling desperately to this straw, that because our rebuild has gone well that their own stands a chance of doing the same. They are right, there is a chance, but the odds on it are so low as to be virtually non-existent.
The money isn’t there, the know-how isn’t there, the certitude isn’t there and they have a tendency to go for bling, as has been proved time and time again. Yesterday’s financial figures, even with the spin, do not hide the fact that they face a massive rebuild and are awesomely under-resourced. A lot of people have not grasped the scale of the trouble they are in.
But I suspect that those on their board know it all too well.