Celtic Is Paralysed By A Risk Averse Attitude. But There Is No Such Thing As Eliminating Risk.

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Earlier on today, I wrote about how Celtic, on the pitch, is playing like a team which is scared to death. They are.

Rodgers has locked us into a system which does not suit us, a system where we do too much playing the ball side to side and backwards. Holding on to possession and looking for the perfect pass, it’s about not taking un-necessary risks.

Our transfer policy is based on something similar. We do not spend “more than we can afford.” We do not offer wages which might upset the delicate balance in the dressing room. We do not do what others in the game call “speculate to accumulate”.

We’re not the sort. Small c conservativism is the dominant business philosophy.

This might work if football worked like any other business, although I wonder about that. Those companies which grow are those who innovate and reach for new business or launch new products or aggressively try to take customers away from the rivals.

Risk averse companies tend to grow to a certain point, and then they stagnate. Eventually, if you want to continue to develop, you have to take risks.

And football certainly does not reward stagnation.

In football, if you are not moving forward, you are standing still. We’ve all spelled out the number of ways in which Celtic is not moving forward. If good players leave you need to replace them with similar quality, otherwise you’re not even standing still, you are going backwards and that’s where this team of ours has gone in recent months.

Small c conservatism does not work in football.

It breeds issues, and those issues are now rife at our club. We decided not to sign a keeper because we still had Joe Hart. We are offering new contracts to Welsh and Scales because they will do in the SPFL. Taylor is good enough to play left back most weeks. You know where I’m going with this. We settle for. We are content to be just ahead of our domestic rivals. We don’t even try in Europe, because, as the higher-ups see it, what’s the point?

Why reach further than you have to? Why spend one penny more than you must? If your number one striker is supposed to go away for a crucial month and doesn’t go, why bother going out and signing another quality striker? It’s not like clubs need competition for players, is it? If you’ve got X number of defenders on the books, do you really need more, even if some of those you have aren’t going to make it at this club in the long term?

The whole club plays it safe, as if there is no cost to doing so. But the costs can be huge. Let’s take a look at what “risk averse” has done to us this season.

We gave Rodgers a three-year contract because Ange Postecoglou walked out on us from his one year rolling deal. Rodgers on a three-year deal protects us.

Safe, right? But when your safety-first transfer policy doesn’t support him, you’re gambling with the title. If we don’t win the title that three-year contract no longer looks so safe because you have to pay the man the duration of it if you want to fire him and bring in somebody else … and that’s massively expensive. All to avoid the risk that he might walk for free.

The playing squad is now bloated with too many players who will never get games. Some of them were brought here to “develop.” The theory is that you buy these players young, in bulk, and cross your fingers. But some of them will never make more than a handful of first team appearances, as we signed too many of them. So that’s another waste of money.

Rather than going out and buying one or two players of quality, we chose this, leaving holes all over the team that these players aren’t going to come close to filling. Which means a proper rebuild somewhere down the line, and even one done in stages is still going to incur greater costs than if we’d just done it right at the start. A huge waste, in the cause of playing it safe.

But other costs could be even higher, of course.

If we lose this title that’s the possible Champions League bounty gone with it, and a guaranteed dilution of the share of the Scottish television market for the competition.

If we fail to reach the Group Stages at all, that tips a pile of money towards Ibrox and leaves us in the cheap seats. The cost to this club, of that failure, will be at least £20 million … which is a greater sum than Celtic has ever invested in a single transfer window.

Potential knock-on effects, if Ibrox secures a second title in a row? Even greater. Our whole success in merchandising, in ticket sales, in other areas involving the club, depends entirely on Celtic showing the requisite level of ambition. If we suffer those defeats in terms of trophies, we’re going to have big problems selling the fans on the idea that they should pour ever more of their own money into a bulging bank account.

And slowly, but surely, we’ll start eating into the cash pile.

Over the years of Lawwell’s tenure as CEO we made the Group Stages of the Champions League only a handful of times, a consequence of not spending money in the summer until after qualification was secured, and on many occasions not even then.

How much did we leave on the table during those years?

Tens of millions more.

How much have we sacrificed because of our poor record once we get there? At £2 million per win, it starts to add up to more and more, which is to say nothing for prize money for progressing in the tournament.

And as this blog has pointed out, prior to the collapse of Rangers our record in Scotland wasn’t that much better; they won the last three titles before the year they went out of business, a direct consequence of his appalling leadership for which he has never acknowledged the least bit of personal responsibility. What were the costs of that?

If we lose the league title this year, that will be two out of the last four. He will have played a role in the loss of both of them, and we’re going to find ourselves right back where we were under this guy before, trading titles and trophies with them right down the line. Some of our fans think that is exactly what Lawwell and Desmond want us to do.

Because of the risks of pushing the current Ibrox club too close to the edge.

You see the problem? That’s not risk averse at all. That’s taking huge risks, and on too many occasions already as a club, we’ve paid the price of having done that.

If the future is more of the same, we’re going to continue to suffer for it. There is no such thing as eliminating risk. The choices you make involve putting something on the line.

And boy oh boy, we’re putting it all up for grabs here.

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  • Paul says:

    Just think how much sevco will spend on improving their team if they win the title and get the champions league money. They won’t keep money in the bank, they will ho out and buy better players than they already have.
    What will celtic do? Sell our best players because we never made the Champions league

  • Clachnacuddin and the Hoops says:

    He has come back (Daddy Lawwell) and he must think at times he can do without the grief and hassle…

    But he is very very high profile so unlike his replacement after Rugger man (Lord-Nicholson Lucan) –

    But there are a helluva lot of them on the board that are just as secretive and under cover as Lucan-Nicholson is…

    And they are cute enough as nobody knows them and therefore they evade the flak in a way that Sonny And Daddy Lawwell do not –

    And Mr (Pig Headed) Brendan Rodgers ain’t exactly perfect either in this farcical debacle and disaster unfolding in front of our horrified eyes !

  • Sid says:

    Yeah, the classic slow car crash that many saw coming , including myself from August.
    The consequences will range from huge to catastrophic. The irony is that the extra money will have to be spent because this squad is much worse than many fans realise. We only have 2 or 3 players at an acceptable standard and they are going to want to bail also.
    I think as soon as this league is essentially finished then I really think as fans we should really dig deep into the subject that this is pure corruption. I’m really having a hard time accepting this is negligence. The referee’s and Var earlier on in the season without a peep from Celtic plus a ton of cheap young projects looks like this was deliberate.

    • Therese Storrie says:

      Sid I agree 100% This is like the 10 in a row season Deliberate slowing down of the team – again on Lawwells watch
      Bet big Ange is so glad he’s out of this

  • John says:

    I think we’re all missing the point , this is payback !! Lawell is showing Rodger’s who is Boss – he doesn’t care if we lose the league , it proves his point of keeping money aside for that eventuality.
    He’s not listened – Rodger’s has been told to get on with it – you’re a highly paid manager,
    Get on with it !!!!!

  • Unrepentant fenian says:

    Couldn’t agree more and I ask my fellow Celtic supporters out there and im paraphrasing the late
    JFK here ask not what your club can do for you but rather what can you do for your club personally they will not get a penny out of me until things change and by that I mean organise protest, and generally make things uncomfortable for the current regime celts for change 2.0 anyone
    Celtic 1st Celtic forever

  • Gerry Carty says:

    We started going backwards the moment Roger Rat walked through the door. I was amazed at the majority of celtic fans accepting this shit…i could never ever could accept someone who stabbed us in the back , yet I got dogs abuse when I spoke my mind on various so called celtic sites . I told those shouting abuse to comeback and apoligise at the end of the season…not much chance of that, but when we lose the league ( As I predicted we would ) we will see the ones who were shouting abuse at me , turning their abuse on Rodgers..and the board. We were used to playing attacking and scoring good goals under the wizard of Oz , I knew Rodgers style of football would not be acceptable to many .
    One so called supporter called on me to give up my season ticket so a true celt can get it …I am now in my 70th year and supported the hoops all my life ….we will see what happens when things go from bad to worse ??

  • Davie says:

    Glad to say your now seeing Celtic in the true way we are being run from board to playing style.
    This is the best, most honest post you have delivered.

  • Jim says:

    I don’t understand if rangers disappeared again that celtic would suffer, champions league/Europe league , money in the bank for lawwell to bank , surely if we lose the league this is a game changer for zombie fc to re-arm and keep afloat for several years to come.

    The return of lawwell has been an underestimated disaster and taken us backwards.

    If Rodgers was poached by another team his contact would only mean we would be entitled to compensation .

    As you stated James, failure to speculate to accumulate is where this entire board has played fast and loose, failure to win the league and take the hit for the lost millions from automatic entry to the champions league is something even lawwell could not survive.

    This team has enough in it and talent to get us over the line and put us far out of reach if everyone can play to their potential, and that includes some changes to the tactics and clear the air talks.

    Lawwell might be an egotistical arrogant bastard but I think Brendan would relish the feedback if it got the team hungry and fighting for this title, even good managers need to hear this time and again if it’s something that can drive them and the team forward, only a fool or arrogance would keep them set in their ways.

    You only have to look at lawwell to realise this .

    Plenty of games to go .

  • Mike says:

    It is about time we all smell the coffee the board do not want Celtic to get far in Europe only interested in the turn up money why well if Celtic get to successful in Europe it would put them in a different shop window and make them more attractive to big foreign investors and that is something the board is terrified of the possibility of a take over and losing control of their hobby and that is what it is to them look at me I am a director of Celtic I am important and it goes on and on year after year thumbing Ther nose at the supporters and the manager and the teem will it change No why would it the proof is as it has always been if we start to win to much they just sell a player or two that will keep us in The our place.

  • FSTB says:

    Seems to me it is now looking more and more like
    The two cheeks are now more than happy sharing the same pair of shorts .
    Wonder if the two clubs will bring out half n half strips to celebrate.
    Maybe a timeline of titles won since 2008 along with our woeful transfer windows may be interesting.
    (Willow flood ,Fletcher ,this summer and January)
    Maybe it really isn’t personal, it’s just business .

  • Michael Taylor says:

    I believed that the 3 year deal/plan woukd be to overcome all trophy numbers to cement being scotlands top club, in all aspects, made sense but now we look like being furyher behind that, and building confidence in govan and fear in parkhead.poor stategic focus at the top and rolling over in dressing room by too many

  • Clachnacuddin and the Hoops says:

    Jeez oh James… Sure I realise that yourself of all folks in this world need downtime to relax and very much deserve a day off (I myself have plenty) !

    But what an utterly massive miss it is going 17 hours (at present) without one of your pure fantastic articles and subsequently the very fine response comments by your readership to all your excellent journalism (a very rare commodity in Scotland in the Football world blogs apart of course)…

    I can only speak for myself The Celtic Blog is like a pure drug to me akin to a shag and a quality curry and I miss it dearly when it’s not updated for such a long period even if it’s only 17 hours it feels like a lifetime in London Road !!!!

    Hurry back my good friend – you and your articles in the best blog of them all are sorely missed !

  • Tom says:

    I think james you are over analising the Celtic situation. Celtic lost 10 in a row because our board simply have no fight in them to upset the applecart. Lawwell is far to cosy with the SFA, and our rivals. Now we have the same scenario repeating itself over again, because Rangers are on their knees financially. Logic tells us we could have brought in a couple of quality players and wiped the floor with the opposition without any great financial loss from our huge profits.
    This has nothing to do with risk, it has more to do with a power beyond our control. We are all being taken for mugs, and the Lawwell family are big players in the delusion.

    • Clachnacuddin and the Hoops says:

      Rangers are NOT on their knees financially Tom – ‘Rangers’ are dead (c.2012)…

      However Sevco are on their knees financially and have been since their birth 11 years and 209 days ago –

      Anyway that wee discrepancy apart, that’s a good point !

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