Sport Soccer

Monday 19 March 2018

Celtic count cost of Mowbray regime

Roddy Forsyth

IF we apply the old detective novel rule of 'follow the money' to Celtic's finances -- their preliminary accounts for last season were published yesterday -- it is easy to identify the cost of mopping up the failed Tony Mowbray regime.

Under the heading of 'exceptional expenses' is the sum of £3.4m.

"You have to draw your own conclusions but it's public knowledge that in hiring a new management team and parting with the new management team there are costs involved," said John Reid, the Celtic chairman.

"If it weren't for these costs, we would have equalled last year's figures."

Not quite, perhaps -- Celtic are no more immune to the recession than the rest of us, as demonstrated by their 15pc decrease in turnover to £61.72m -- but the departure of Mowbray and his assistants, Mark Venus and Peter Grant, was responsible for the bulk of the year-end debt of £5.85m, up from £1.51m in 2009.

A £2m profit for 2008-09 becomes a loss of £2.13m before taxation.

Likewise, the trading profit before asset transactions and exceptional items was down from £11.23m to £4.46m, but it remains a surplus.

Celtic's wage bill decreased by more than £2m to £36.5m but that represented a greater ratio to turnover of 59.1pc.

The Bhoys, of course, have lost the Scottish title to Rangers in the two most recent seasons, but in financial terms they are in far better shape than their Old Firm rivals.

At the last official admission, Rangers' debt was five times higher -- although the differential has reduced somewhat over the summer -- and Celtic's careful stewardship of their finances has allowed them to absorb some big economic hits.

Last year's season ticket sales declined from 54,252 to around 48,000, but since these were largely purchased long before Mowbray's regime imploded, the failure of the football team was a far less significant factor than the credit squeeze.

"The most important factor in that respect was that we were in mid-recession," said chief executive Peter Lawwell.

"The further away our supporters are, the more costly it is to come to Celtic Park and there was a downturn in that respect, so that we had fewer fans from, say, Ireland than we would expect in normal circumstances."

Meanwhile, Daniel Majstorovic yesterday proclaimed himself fully prepared for the demands of playing for Celtic as he vowed to wrest the title back from Rangers.

The Sweden defender was unveiled at Celtic Park after completing his move from AEK Athens, who were unable to keep financing his salary.

The 33-year-old has immediately realised the importance of preventing Rangers claiming a third successive SPL title. And Neil Lennon's eighth summer signing believes his two-year spell in Greece has given him the ideal grounding in dealing with the expectations of fans.

AEK Athens coach Dusan Bajevic was attacked by his own supporters after his team lost a pre-season friendly at Kallithea this month so Majstorovic is unlikely to be fazed by the demands of playing in the Old Firm arena.


"Expectations are always high at big clubs, especially from the fans and the media," the Swede said.

"This is part of the job and you have to handle it. The derbies between Panathinaikos, AEK Athens, Olympiakos are the same. It's high pressure.

"The fans are really, really crazy. Over there it's not football, it is really a religion. I'm used to this kind of pressure and I'm looking forward to it.

"Big clubs always have big pressure. You need to get used to it and handle it. The people who can't handle it are not ready to play for a big club."

Majstorovic, whose former clubs include Malmo, FC Twente and Basle, knows that Celtic fans demand the championship and the imposing centre-back is determined to deliver.

"First of all they will see a player who always gives 100pc on the field," he said. "To take back the title for Celtic is the most important thing."

The Swede must dislodge either Glenn Loovens or Jos Hooiveld from central defence but he has not left Athens to sit on the bench and he could play in Thursday's Europa League play-off first leg against Utrecht at Celtic Park if Lennon chooses him as his one available addition to his registered 25-man squad.

Majstorovic said: "Hopefully I will be part of the team. I'm really looking forward to being part of the team as quickly as possible.

"I have always tried to be a leader in the team and I will do the same here. It is a big club with winners in all the positions but I'm still very, very hungry even though I'm 33." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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