CELTIC cited record gains from player trading of £29 million as helping bolster its £88.2m post-pandemic bounce-back revenue, but it comes as a former Parkhead director has warned on the impending impact of austerity.

In day two of our special series on Scottish football finances, the high-profile businessman who helped save Celtic from going bust with Fergus McCann flags new headwinds, which follow “grave” concerns over a potential alcohol sponsorship ban, and there is further insight from one of Scotland’s leading economists.

Former Celtic director Lord Willie Haughey, the founder of one of the country’s most successful global enterprises, said that better commercial management has boosted revenues across Scottish football clubs but that the cost-of-living squeeze will now be a concern in boardrooms.

It comes as the Scottish Professional Football League cinch Premiership champions celebrated a sparkling return and eye UEFA action after the pressures of coronavirus lockdowns.

A recap of recent years shows changeable results that are also relative to the club’s success on the park, with the European stage the ultimate prize.

Celtic’s results for the year ended June 30, 2022 show that revenue rose to £88.2m, against £60.8m the year before, with a profit before tax of £6.1m, swinging from an £11.5 loss before tax in 2021.

In 2019, the year before the pandemic, the Parkhead club saw revenue decrease, by 17.9 per cent to £83.4m, against £101.6m the year before, a gain on sale of players of £17.7m, and profit before tax of £11.3m, compared with £17.3m the year before.

HeraldScotland: Celtic has returned revenue beyond pre-pandemic levels, and now has its sights set on EuropeCeltic has returned revenue beyond pre-pandemic levels, and now has its sights set on Europe (Image: Getty)

A little further back to 2015, Celtic had posted a drop in revenue at the time of 21.1% to £51.08m, with a gain on sale of players of £6.77m, against £17.05m the year before and a loss before tax of £3.95m, set against a 2014 profit of £11.17m.

Celtic posted £38m on signings last year, and football and stadium operations revenue was £42.8m against £21m the year before, merchandising was £25m against £23m and multimedia and other commercial activities’ revenue was £20.5m, set against £17m the year before.

Austerity

Pressures include soaring energy prices and inflationary costs across areas including food and drink.

Philanthropist Lord Haughey, who owns City Facilities Management, said that “there is more imagination in clubs now to generate revenue”.

He said: “I would say overall that Scottish football is in a favourable place, but obviously it is what the austerity is going to bring and what that is going to mean, maybe to sales of merchandise, so that is the thing that clubs will be worried about.”

HeraldScotland: Lord Haughey, who sponsors the Glasgow Cup, is to discuss football finances with Sir Tom Hunter on their Go Radio Business Show this SundayLord Haughey, who sponsors the Glasgow Cup, is to discuss football finances with Sir Tom Hunter on their Go Radio Business Show this Sunday

He also said: “For the first time in a long time there seems to be a lot of sensible people running most of the clubs, and I think that is a big thing. They are being very clever at attracting income outside of ticket money, they have been very good at attracting commercial sponsors and doing deals.

“With some of the initiatives I’ve seen I think that clubs feel they have got a bit more freedom. With the television deal, they had something to say and got a better deal, so I would think that commercially there are a lot of people who as new owners and investors in clubs are trying to run the clubs better commercially and I think that can only be good for the game. At the same time, there are challenges.”

Ian Bankier, Celtic chairman, said a key revenue driver was the restoration of a “more normalised trading environment as we emerged from Covid-19”.

He said: “This, along with record gains from player trading in the year, £29m, (2021: £9.4m), ensured the delivery of the reported profit.” Players such as Odsonne Edouard have departed.


Part One in the series:


Professor Graeme Roy, of the Adam Smith Business School at the University of Glasgow, pointed to one area where football clubs “are different from other businesses”.

He said: “In many ways they face the same pressures, but they also have things that go in their favour like brand loyalty, some of the smaller clubs rely on volunteers to keep things going, and they are embedded into their communities and that makes football clubs remarkably resilient.”

Neil Doncaster, SPFL chief executive, said earlier that “a number of major challenges remain” and cited “grave consequences” of the Scottish Government’s proposed ban on alcohol sponsorship.

Mr Bankier also said it would invest “intelligently in the player squad, the football department and the sporting infrastructure and facilities”, and added: “The biggest influence on the financial and sporting fortunes of the club is our ability to participate in European competition.”


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In part three tomorrow: Hearts and Hibernian both powered to profits in the Scottish capital post pandemic, and one former chief reveals how