The One Thing Celtic Fans Know But Ibrox’s Don’t … Our Future Can Be Paid For Already.

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Every few years – the number varies between three and five – I start looking around on the websites where you can build custom PC’s. It starts months before I make a commitment to one, and it’s only after calculating what I need now, what I’ll need three years from now and what I can realistically afford to spend that I finally take the plunge and order it.

I did that just three days ago, and so I’ll be working on the thing within a week.

I did that knowing we live in a period of great uncertainty, where nothing is written in stone. I have a year to pay for it in full otherwise a hefty interest rate gets applied to me. As I don’t want that to happen, I’m essentially racing the clock. But I feel very calm about that.

Because I also know that if conditions meant I could not blog for a while, that I could simply look into my savings account and pull out enough to pay for it right now. To just clear it from the decks, in a gesture that would leave me in zero debt. Because I don’t like debt, and I would never start looking on those websites in the first place if I didn’t know that, rain or shine, I could just pay for this thing in one go, if that’s what circumstances demanded.

Celtic takes that position towards everything that we do.

I know people who spend every penny they have in the bank the minute it arrives in the bank. I try to set some aside, not only for rainy days but for those exceptional items which constitute “nice things to have.”

Celtic could take the first approach, and live it large in the here and now … or we could be sensible. What do those choices mean for Celtic?

What are the “nice things to have” which enhance our club?

Well, what I’ll tell you about my new PC is this; some would regard it as a mad luxury, especially considering the blazing high specification. I don’t.

I may get into podcasting and even video editing this year at some point, and so it’s an investment. I usually write with multiple tabs open, with plenty of information to hand if I need it for a piece. I also like to have Amazon Music playing in the background, and maybe even some game running. I also like gaming in my downtime, strategy stuff, and a high end rig is needed for all that … I regard even the gaming as a necessity because that stuff is what keeps me balanced and sane.

Some people regard having nice amenities around Celtic Park as a luxury. Some think that an indoor full sized training pitch at Lennoxtown is a luxury. Floodlights at the training ground for God’s sake? Why? All those Wednesday night running sessions?

What about analytics? Why do we need to know how many times Callum McGregor touched the ball in a game, how many passes he made and how many were complete? What does that tell us about him that we don’t already know watching him on TV?

I remember watching Sunderland Til I Die’s second series, and the new directors being appalled at some of the “nice things to have” which were costing the club a fortune.

The cryo-chamber which was supposed to improve the fitness and well-being of players was sucking £100,000 a year out of the club; when Charlie Methven asks who uses it he finds out that nobody did, that only our old friend Martin Bain, who had been CEO there before their arrival, enjoyed it on occasion. They quickly dispensed with it, and saved themselves the money.

But I got the impression watching it that they would have ditched it anyway. Because you can either afford the bells and whistles and special effects or you turn your graphic settings down to low and play that way instead. Their club may have suffered for that decision; they were in a position where it didn’t matter, and they simply had to get costs cut.

I know there are a lot of our fans who will be furious if we don’t spend on a big money signing this window, as if the £4 million we’ve just bought a defender for was nothing. In Scotland, that’s a vast sum, as is the £12 million we’ve spent on players.

But of course, people expect that because we’ve sold Jota that we need to spend big because that was money we never expected and which we can’t just leave sitting in the bank.

But what if we do?

Is that “penny pinching” or taking an un-necessary risk with the league title? Or is it sensible, smart, something that allows us to have those “nice things to have” somewhere down the line? And when does it sink in that some of them are essentials?

If we spend big money on infrastructure, that’s not a gamble. That’s investing, that’s designed to generate a return whether a financial one or whatever, and for years to come.

One of the things I always try to do when I buy a new PC is future proof it; in short, you think about that question as to what you will need in five years to be sure you can still play the most modern titles, and you spend the money to make sure of it.

By then, of course, I’ll want a new one … but the thing is, my current machine is going to my sister, who will get at least three more years out of it, as my niece got the one I had before this.

That’s also good to go for a while to come.

Celtic has “future proofed” our club. That’s the main thing this money does.

It allows us to spend where we think we need to tweak or improve, but without putting the club in any financial peril. If we want to spend on sports science and analytics, we’ll benefit from that for the next decade. Those enhancements to the training ground are a permanent upgrade, one that will be working wonders for us far, far, far beyond the immediate horizon.

Let’s not forget, too, that the January window might prove to be critical. If we’ve got a good chunk of change still in the bank when that comes around we have the ability to transform the second half of the season. Do not underestimate the importance of that.

Especially with the Asian Cup issue still looming large.

Obviously, there’s another element here too; money in the bank is also a “nice thing to have.” Because it lets you spend extra on something if you need to, it allows you the flexibility to reach further than you might otherwise go … and it gives you security.

Security. That’s the big one. If we end this window having posted a transfer trading surplus, that’s not a disaster, that’s not an evil thing, that’s not a club playing it safe but one playing it smart. We don’t even have to look too much further back to recognise that anything can happen.

COVID could have put clubs out of business … just not ours.

Our rebuild back from that, to have tens of millions sitting in the bank, is fantastic. That we’ve been successful on top of it is little short of miraculous. This club is “future proofed” as long as that money is sitting there. Not every club can say the same.

The Mooch sat in front of the media today and said that he doesn’t expect their “net spend” to be very big by the time the window shuts. He still thinks he’s going to get rid of three or four players, and bring in something to offset the costs of his rebuild. What he won’t say is that he has been told that he needs to get rid of those players, and quickly.

There is no “future proofing” the Ibrox operation. They are still spending what they cannot afford to, but they do like a gamble over there.

But their margin for error is virtually zero.

If they go out of the Champions League before the Groups, and if this team of theirs is swept aside by ours they’ll have spent two or three year’s money on it to no benefit. And they have no other options, they don’t have a surplus sitting in the bank or saleable assets in the last resort.

If their club runs into major difficulty somewhere – in one of their court cases for example – and they are hit with a major bill, they are going to be in trouble.

There is no just “pay that bill and it’s no longer a problem” for them, because the money to do that in one fell swoop just is not there.

Even if their own disgusting, and appalling, fantasy scenario comes to pass and we lose a certain court case and we’re hit with a major bill, there is no prospect whatsoever of it “putting us out of business”, and virtually no chance that the team will even be impacted.

There was a time when I would have been stamping my feet and basically demanding that we spend every penny that came in the door.

That was a long time ago. I appreciate the “nice things to have”, including a team full of new signings … but without the underlying financial stability, without that extra money in the bank, none of it would be possible anyway.

We are a smarter club than that. Which is why we continue to outpace those jokers across the city who don’t so much like nice things as anything that looks shiny. Idiots.

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