|25-10-09 11:32 AM|
Peter Lawwell took over as CEO of Celtic in November 2003. 5 months prior to his appointment, many, many fellow fans enjoyed what was, for a lot of people, the highlight of our Celtic supporting life, with a coveted trip to Seville. Ask any Celt who was lucky to get on that trip and they will talk of the weather, the team, the run to the final and countless other tales of a thoroughly enjoyable time as a Celtic fan.
King Henrik Larsson, Neil Lennon, John Hartson(Get well soon BBJ) Stiliyan Petrov, Chris Sutton and Paul Lambert would have all held their own in many Premiership teams both back then and even now.
Some would say the above players were reaching their peak and required to be moved on however this didn’t stop the majority of them winning another League Championship and Scottish Cup only 12 months later.
It has also been muted that many of our players at that time were vastly overpaid and I do not have an argument with that, however if this was the case why did our new CEO arrive and immediately throw on the charm offensive by telling us all we would always be buying blue chip signings of Premiership standard like the players mentioned above.
6 years on and if for nothing else, he ought to walk for that comment alone. This was his “tenner for a fiver” statement and one that has firmly bit him in the arse.
During his reign, our staffing costs have never been higher and despite an initial wage reduction programme, our payroll costs have spiralled out of control to nearly £40 million in 2008 from the £33 million we paid out on the run to Seville. Some will argue that we are 5 years on from Seville and that wages etc have risen but lets be brutally honest with the standard of players we have now in comparison to 2003, the reality is that we are over-paying, and by quite some bit.
Whilst the Premiership wage bubble can take some of the blame for this hike, we only need to look across the water to get a real comparison and their wage bill is £50 million lighter than ours during his period in office.
So what of our CEO’s results? I think most of us were surprised to learn, that in a season when our team capitulated, winning only the CIS cup against one of the poorest Rangers teams in recent times, our CEO somehow managed to walk out the door with just short of a £740,000 package. In what was our worst season since Peter taking up the position, he managed to somehow take a 35% pay increase and his wage has almost doubled in the past 2 seasons.
It is evident that some of that pay was down to our Financial performance so let’s have a wee look at those results over his CEO career.
Some would have you believe that over at the Shoebox, they have been in the mire over the last 5 or so years however I think most of us would hold our hands up in surprise at the reality of the comparative period of Peters reign. Since his appointment, we have delivered a total loss of £5.8 million and during the same period, they have delivered a £7.8 million profit. Just to clarify on this, their results for last season are not out yet and will no doubt be a huge loss of around £8 million all but wiping out the previous 5 years results but they will STILL be ahead in PROFIT terms against Peter in that period. Peter may well point to the sale of Hutton and Cuellar as reasons for this but it hasn’t seemed to hamper them. Every penny of those transfers was given to their manager to reinvest in the squad yet still they produced better financial results than our esteemed CEO. For me, this was the biggest shock I uncovered whilst researching this article.
“But it’s all about the debt.” The debt is the one that we hear about all the time from Celtic PLC. We have no debt is the shout and some of us actually celebrate it like a trophy but the reality was soon to be aired by one of our own. Victor Arbuckle has given us an insight into the ins and outs of finance and his revelation on our real debt was an eye opener.
Hidden amongst the speeches and celebrations was a chunk of debt not included in the headline figures we hear so much about. Whilst we are owed just over £6 million from suppliers, the worrying fact is that we owe others just over £14 million taking our “very little net debt” up to nearly £10 million. Further to this, we have a £12 million loan that for whatever reason, we don’t want to pay off. We have been covering the interest for the past few years but not eating into the capital part of it which is worrying. Could we not have been paying this off with our profit or would this have impacted on bonus payments is the question to be asked ?
To be clear on the above, there is nothing illegal about the way we report this figure and many PLC’s use the same method but it would be in our best interest that we get a clear picture year on year rather than the smoky one being pushed out to appease the less learned of shareholders.
So why write this article ? Well for too long, it appears we have been more focussed at laughing at the other mob whilst our own Board are pissing about, painting pictures of happiness when in reality, we are not too far away behind them debt wise. The stark truth of the situation is that we are perhaps only one more season of no Champions League cash away from reversing the balance of debt. Anyone who thinks otherwise or attempts to cover this up is not facing up to reality.
So what’s the plan of action from the PLC to ensure we don’t fall behind them?
Well apparently their solution is to hand our new manager less money to spend than our previous manager once again running the risk of trying to win the SPL on the last day of the season whilst making a Profit and a healthy bonus.
Our performances so far this season have shown this may prove another failure and we need look no further than the PLC for the reason why.
It is time to forget about the team from the other side of the river and concentrate on our own inefficiencies.
Attempting to build brands in foreign markets is no longer enough for the likes of me, and many, many other Celtic fans. We won’t get any bigger than Naka as far as Asian markets go, yet he has came, wowed us all and went, and the figures illustrated above still show no marked difference.
Its time for our Board, and Peter in particular, to concentrate on the football park. The CEO of Celtic Football Club should have a primary goal of delivering the Treble and Champions League football every year with a reasonable amount of debt control.
Under no circumstances should he “profit” or end up in a better financial position by not handing our manager cash and consequently losing the SPL and Scottish Cup.
Should Peter Lawwell go?
The facts above say YES to me!
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