The stock market announcement which Celtic made yesterday will have shaken Ibrox to its foundations. Their club no longer has a proper stock market listing, and this, as we are all very aware, is absolutely deliberate on their part.
It was Dave King’s first major act as Ibrox chairman.
His decision to de-list them was strategic. A company listed on the main stock exchange has to basically open the books. It serves its shareholders, first and foremost, and they have legal rights to poke their own noses in wherever they want. King didn’t want too much scrutiny, and no wonder. What’s more interesting is that no Ibrox board since his has wanted it either.
Who knows what goes on at that club?
You shudder to think where the money for this summer’s spending might have come from. Even by a conservative estimate they’ve spent about £8 million.
Are they robbing Peter to pay Paul? Are they gambling on Champions League qualification? What if they don’t get it? Are their directors really going to pony up for more equity confetti? How do they square it with UEFA?
I was on the Graham Spiers podcast earlier today talking about the Scottish sports media and its lack of standards and basic dishonesty.
There are questions that they really should be asking of that club, and about where the money is coming from in particular. Not every journalist is convinced that they got £1 million from Bayern Munich, right? Not all of them are so star-struck by The Mooch and his “rebuild” that they won’t ask hard questions. Some must want to know how it’s being paid for.
In the meantime, Celtic continues to go about its business quietly, professionally and without fuss. Which isn’t to say that we don’t occasionally flex our muscles for the watching world, because in some ways that’s what our statement to the stock exchange yesterday was all about; we didn’t have to issue that update about the state of our finances.
We wanted to issue it. We wanted that in the public domain. We wanted to put it out there, where the media would be forced to cover it, and we wanted the shadow of that announcement passing over Ibrox, and reminding them of where they are in relation to us.
What kind of year is going to be over there? Directors loans again, to keep the lights on. Court cases, maybe, to keep creditors at bay and the wolf from the door. The escalation of their war with the SPFL is partly about wanting to keep pressure on Neil Doncaster, yes … but is it also partly about needing those costs paid? Who knows?
About Celtic, there is no doubt. Robust earnings, this year certain to top £100 million, and we’re able to spend without worrying about finishing the year with a loss. And so what if we did? We’re sitting on a surplus that at last count was £30 million; that’s what you call a war-chest, that’s money for a rainy day in case one comes along. They have a petty cash box and an orange piggy bank swiped from their megastore’s surplus stock.
We are reminding me of those things in a way that’s not even particularly subtle. It’s a nod and wink to UEFA as well. It’s us saying “this is how a proper club is run” and hammering it home. It’s why we’ve signed two players and extended the contracts of two more.
We are the super-club in Scotland; that was the subtext. A top class manager, top class players, big players on new deals and all of it at a time when we’re not just operating in the shadow of England but in the shadow of the Saudi league too. There has never been a tougher time in to be a Scottish team in the history of the game … and we’re thriving.
So the message to Ibrox was simply this; catch us if you can.
Not a chance in Hell.