The current crisis around the COVID-19 pandemic continues to occupy the minds of the great and the good worldwide,and also those of us on Sentinel Celts. The main areas of concern are twofold: that we have a major health catastrophe on our doorstep and that we have a looming financial disaster to follow. The latter will take longer to clear up,but the former is proving fatal already to many unfortunates.
Taking the situation nearer to home and looking at it from the vantage point of first,Celtic in particular,and secondly Scottish football as a whole,I reckon that there are similar severe problems on the horizon. We have already seen the pre-emptive strike from Ann Budge at Hearts,and I would reckon that many other clubs are looking at their wage bill and paying close attention to certain overly generous contracts. Of course,HM Gov has said that they will cover the wages of employees in affected businesses,but there is a double caveat involved of only 80% and only up to £25k per year. That should safeguard the immediate future of most players from the lower leagues,which is a start. I’m not usually known for praising the actions of a Tory government,but I’ll give them this one. It is a route which will likely prove to be the saviour of both employee and employer in the short to medium term. Beyond that? Well,beyond that I’d say a job would be the least of our worries-if the pandemic proves to be long term.
But what of the top tier,the Scottish Premier League? There are some clubs there whose finances rely ultimately on the ability to let out their pitch for community use,so having no match day income for the foreseeable future will obviously hurt them badly. Other clubs rely on digging up the occasional golden nugget to sell on,but we have seen the long term folly of that policy at Dundee United,whose astonishing fall from grace was precipitated by the goldmine striking out. Others have struggled along solely on the largesse of their owner,such as Aberdeen who now have recent new American owners. For their sake,let’s hope their money wasn’t in tracker funds in the markets.
And then there’s Celtic and Rangers. Now,I’ll admit that Celtic’s large current account balance is largely down to our own ability to unearth a golden nugget and sell it on as and when,but at the moment we still have a few of them,so no need to hit the panic button just yet.
Especially as any transfer market is likely to be depressed for a year or two anyway. (Word of advice to I Wanna-sign a new contract with us,son. In two years time,a contract elsewhere might be what you were looking at six months ago,but not now)
Our balance of anywhere between £40m and £60m is going to take a large hit,but with a playing wage bill of c£40m a year,we can weather it for the six months or so that it may take to get the game back to normal. Additionally of course,we seem to have got the new kit deal with Adidas over the line at a highly fortuitous time,and I’d expect that windfall to come in handy. Now though,more than ever,every penny will be a prisoner and playing squad improvements will be few and far between-unless we decide to take advantage of that depressed market I mentioned earlier.
Over on the dark side,things might be somewhat different. The squad that Dave King announced only in December to be worth in the region of £100m might not really be worth anything like that. Well,when I say might,I actually mean won’t. And it never was,based as it was on ludicrous valuations of the likes of Morelos-whose value has tanked faster than the stock in a cruising holiday company-Tavernier,Arribo and the like. But they are still probably too valuable to be cut loose from their contracts,so the club will almost definitely need to pony up the money every month. Which may be interesting,given that they run at a monthly loss in excess of a million quid-even with matchday income. On top of that,the sugar daddies may be finding that the bottom of their pockets are lined with lint rather than gold. Mr Micawber would be screaming the house down!
But these are exceptional times,and as such,exceptional measures may be considered to tide clubs over in their time of need. Would the SFA possibly be amenable to the fabled pre-pack administration much loved by certain entrepreneurs and businessmen? Perhaps if they were notified in advance by say Hearts and Rangers and possibly one or two others,they could give the all-clear,announce the end of the season table based on points deductions along with a one-off fourteen team SPL for next year,with three down to Follow Follow. Additionally that the Scottish Cup would be withheld this season due to the crisis.
Everyone’s a winner as no-one loses,just as I said in an earlier article. Hearts stay up-and solvent-Rangers stay in business until the next time. One or two clubs shed some debt that’s been hanging round their necks like a millstone. The only losers here are Celtic. We get nine in a row,sure. But we don’t get to celebrate it,and there will certainly be an asterisk put beside that one in the record books! On top of that,it scuppers our march to a fourth treble. Hell,they’ll probably split the SPL prize money an even twelve ways because they bloody well can.
That’s the problem with a democracy. You only get one vote. The moral high ground and right is might don’t count for much against vested interests.
Above article by BMCUWP. If you would like to contribute our Article of the Day,please send it to us and we will publish it. Even if it’s just the germ of an idea that you’re not too confident about fleshing out,send it anyway and we can do that for you! Mail Mahe on