Celtic and the Rangers under financial spotlight as season 2019/20 is analysed by Swiss Ramble

Delays in some clubs providing their financial results means that any analysis of the Scottish Premiership lags that for other leagues around Europe, including down south. However football’s financial expert Swiss Ramble has had the patience to wait for all the Scottish Premiership clubs to file their accounts, better late than never, and he’s accordingly he’s now been able to provide detailed analysis across the league for the season before last, when Celtic won a ninth successive title.

There are plenty of takeaways from Swiss Ramble’s analysis for us to consider, directly relating to Celtic and of course our noisy neighbours across the city. When you consider that they had that last game against Bayer Leverkusen allowed to proceed days before lockdown and that they didn’t offer their fans refunds for the matches that fans weren’t allowed to attend (as Celtic did) after 8 March 2020 when play was stopped due to the pandemic, then you see the benefits to their numbers.

Swiss Ramble bemoans the financial rewards from what remains a very unattractive TV deal in cash terms and notes that Celtic’s figures are transformed by reaching the Champions League Group stages, mentioning the £30m boost that gave to the club the last time we got there back in 2018.

Just as well we’re fully prepared for Champions League qualifiers this season no-one reading this is currently thinking!

Some fascinating stuff here for you to consider, courtesy of Swiss Ramble…

“Now that all the clubs in the Scottish Premiership have finally published their accounts for the 2019/20 season, here is an overview of their financials, which were adversely impacted by the season’s early closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Most Scottish Premiership clubs aim for break-even with 5 making small profits, led by Hearts £0.5m and Motherwell £0.3m. (the)Rangers £17.5m post-tax loss is the big outlier, especially compared to Celtic £0.4m deficit, largely due to their recent investment in the squad.”

“However, it is worth noting that Celtic were boosted by £24m profit from player sales, largely due to Kieran Tierney’s move to Arsenal, which was significantly higher than other Scottish clubs. The next highest were Kilmarnock £1.2m, Motherwell £1.0m and (the)Rangers £0.7m.

“The Old Firm (sic) had by far the largest operating losses (i.e. excluding player sales and interest) with Celtic being highest at £24.5m then (the)Rangers £15.9m. Next highest was Hibernian with just £1.4m. Hearts was the only club with an operating profit, thanks to £3.7m donations.”

“Celtic had the highest revenue with £70m, though the gap to (the)Rangers £59m has narrowed. Both Glasgow clubs earn at least four times as much as other Scottish clubs with closest challengers being Aberdeen £14m, Hearts £12m, Hibernian £9m and Kilmarnock £5m.

“Revenue for most Scottish clubs fell in 2019/20, partly due to the impact of COVID-19, but (the)Rangers increased by £6m (11%), due to reaching Europa League last 16. In contrast, Celtic revenue dropped £13m (16%) with match day and commercial heavily affected by the pandemic.”

“Celtic’s £35.8m match day revenue was just ahead of (the)Rangers £35.7m, then a big drop to Hearts £5.1m, Aberdeen £3.7m and Motherwell £1.5m. All clubs adversely impacted by season’s early closure, though (the)Rangers boosted by Europa League run and 5% ticket price increase.

“Similarly, Celtic’s £13.7m broadcasting income was just above (the)Rangers £13.5m, with both of them a long way ahead of the other Scottish clubs: Aberdeen £3.0m, Motherwell £2.3m and Hearts £2.0m.”

“The Scottish Premiership TV deal is very low, so Celtic only received £3.4m for winning the title in 2020. To put this into perspective, Premier League winners got £152m, while last place was worth £97m. Even a Championship club (no parachute payments) got twice as much £7m.

“There is a new 5-year Scottish TV deal with Sky Sports worth £30m (€34m) a year from 2020/21 (up from £25m), but this is not going to move the needle by much. It’s still much lower than Poland Ekstraklasa €58m and Belgium Jupiler League €83m, let alone Premier League €3.6 billion.”

“The Glasgow clubs’ broadcasting revenue was boosted by the Europa League: Celtic £9.9m earned more than (the)Rangers £9.2m, despite only reaching last 32 compared to last 16, due to higher UEFA coefficient (based on last 10 year’s results) and better results in the group.

“Reaching the Champions League group stage can make a big difference to Scottish clubs, e.g. the last time Celtic managed this in 2018 they received £30m TV money. On top of that, a club would have higher gate receipts and an uplift from performance bonuses in commercial deals.”

“Celtic’s £20.8m commercial income (sponsorship £8.1m, retail and e-commerce £11.2m and other income £1.4m) was more than double (the)Rangers £9.8m (sponsorship & advertising £3.1m, commercial £3.9m and other income £2.8m), followed by Aberdeen £7.7m and Hearts £5.1m.

“Celtic had the highest wage bill with £54m, ahead of (the)Rangers £43m, though the gap has narrowed to £11m from £35m in 2018. There remains an abyss between the Old Firm (sic) and the other Scottish clubs, i.e. the next highest are Aberdeen £10m, Hearts £9m and Hibernian £7m.”

“Most Scottish clubs have reasonable wages to turnover ratios, just above UEFA’s recommended upper limit of 70%, but that’s not too bad in a COVID-impacted season. The highest (worst) was Ross County 103%, followed by Motherwell 85%, Celtic 77%, Hibernian 74% & (the)Rangers 73%.

“Celtic’s £12.2m player amortisation, the annual charge to write-off transfer fees over a player’s contract, was the highest in Scotland, well ahead of (the)Rangers £7.6m. Both clubs are a lot higher than the rest: Hibernian £0.5m, Aberdeen £0.4m and Hearts £0.4m.

“Scottish clubs do not often pay big money to sign players. In fact, Celtic gross transfer spend of £20.7m in 2019/20 was easily more than the rest of the Scottish Premiership combined with the next highest being (the)Rangers £11.0m, followed by Aberdeen £1.3m and Hearts £0.4m.

(the)Rangers £19.3m gross debt is more than all the other Scottish Premiership clubs combined (£15.7m) with the next highest being Hearts £5.7m, Celtic £5.4m and Aberdeen £1.3m. These numbers are significantly lower than most English clubs.

“Celtic’s cash balance dropped from £34.1m to £22.4m in 2020, though this was still by far the highest in Scotland, more than double (the)RangersFC £11.1m, followed by Hibernian £5.4m, St. Johnstone £2.8m, Aberdeen £2.5m and Hearts £2.4m.”

“Obviously these figures for the 2019/20 season are a year behind, as we will have to wait a few months before clubs start publishing accounts for 2020/21, which will reflect a full season of COVID.

“I’ve just realized that there was a formula error for Aberdeen’s profit figures in my database. Updated graphs attached. My apologies.”

About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor, who has edited numerous Celtic books over the past decade or so including several from Lisbon Lions, Willie Wallace, Tommy Gemmell and Jim Craig. Earliest Celtic memories include a win over East Fife at Celtic Park and the 4-1 League Cup loss to Partick Thistle as a 6 year old. Best game? Easy 4-2, 1979 when Ten Men Won the League. Email editor@thecelticstar.co.uk

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