“Disappointing to us all, and never the intention,” Peter Lawwell on Celtic’s January window

“Disappointing to us all, and never the intention,” Peter Lawwell on Celtic’s January window…

Celtic PLC released their interim report this afternoon, showing these key highlights:

Revenue increased by 11% to £85.2m (2022: £76.5m).
Profit from trading was £32.0m (2022: £28.1m).
Profit from transfer of player registrations (shown as profit on disposal of intangible assets) £2.6m (2022: £1.8m).
Profit before taxation of £30.3m (2022: £33.9m).
Acquisition of player registrations of £12.9m (2022: £5.7m).
Period end cash net of bank borrowings of £67.3m (2022: £59.2m)

Celtic v Kilmarnock – Celtic chairman Peter Lawwell and CEO Michael Nicholson during the cinch Premiership match at Celtic Park on Saturday February 17, 2024. Photo Andrew Milligan

There was speculation that the Celtic PLC bank account would be in the black to the tune of £100m but the reality is just over £67m. The PLC have committed a substantial figure to the development of the new Barrowfield training facilities, upgrade work at Lennoxtown and further expenditure in the stadium at Celtic Park. Celtic have invested in the current playing staff with numerous first team players receiving contract extensions and with it significant salary increases.

Celtic PLC Chairman supplies the narrative to go with the numbers and somewhat unusually Peter Lawwell also goes into some detail of the frustrations at the club in the January transfer window. Targets were unavailable as clubs wouldn’t sell and Lawwell also confirms that strong interest in several players (O’Riley, Abada and maybe one or two others?) was rejected in each instance.

From the Chairman’s Statement in the Celtic PLC Interim Report Peter Lawwell wrote:

Peter Lawwell during the Scottish Premiership match between Hearts and Celtic at Tynecastle Park on October 22, 2023. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

“From a funding perspective, the cash and cash equivalents balance reduced from £72.3m to £67.3m in the period under review. A significant proportion of this cash is committed to the creation of a new training centre at the Barrowfield site, the finalisation of the Lennoxtown developments and future stadium expenditure.

“The Board recognises the inherent inefficiencies of holding excess cash, and, in conjunction with other cash commitments, the importance of investing in strengthening the team to deliver football success. The Board shares the frustrations of the supporters regarding the less than anticipated activity in the recent transfer window.

Since the opening of the transfer window in June 2023, and up to the end of the winter transfer window which closed on 1st February 2024, we have committed £23.9m in player investment. Within this we renewed and extended the contracts of Cameron Carter-Vickers, Liel Abada, Matt O’Riley, Anthony Ralston and Reo Hatate.

“The Board’s commitment is to strengthen and improve the playing squad in every transfer window and although resources were available, we were unable to further add to the squad due to the unavailability of identified targets. This was disappointing to us all, and never the intention. The January transfer window is notoriously difficult as clubs are very reluctant to let their best players go at such a crucial time of the season just as we are. Indeed, we resisted strong interest in our players from other clubs.

“It is notable that transfer activity in England was the lowest it has been for over ten years, excluding the impact of Covid-19. A number of reasons have been cited for this including the absence of suitable players and new UEFA regulations which impose spending caps.”

Nicolas Kuhn of Celtic scores. Aberdeen v Celtic, Cinch Scottish Premiership, Football, Pittodrie, Aberdeen, UK – 03 Feb 2024 Photo Mark Runnacles/Shutterstock

The January transfer window was hugely disappointing for all Celtic supporters. Having heard the manager Brendan Rodgers speak about quality signings needed after another disappointing outcome to a Champions League campaign, expectations were raised that the signing needed would begin to arrive in the January window.

With Nicolas Kuhn the only permanent signing, with Adam Idah arriving on loan from Norwich City, it’s fair to say that the overall feeling among the support was frustration and severe disappointment. Today Brendan Rodgers spoke about eight wins and two draws feeling more like eight defeats and two draws, however those draws have turned a two points lead into a two points deficit and whatever the reason the team is not playing at all well.

Adam Idah in action Aberdeen v Celtic, Scottish Premiership, Football, Pittodrie,  3rd February 2024. Photo Mark Runnacles/Shutterstock

Whatever happens in the league and the Scottish Cup is going to be decided by the players currently at the club and they should be capable of delivering the success that the support desperately wants. But as for the Champions League, we are a long way away from making the necessary improvements to the squad.

ROTTERDAM, 19Ã09-2023, Stadium Feijenoord / De Kuip , Champions League , season 2023 / 2024, Feyenoord – Celtic , result 2-0 , Celtic player Gustaf Lagerbielke slaps Feyenoord player Igor Paixao in the face and gets send off with red card and causes a penalty Feyenoord – Celtic

What Peter Lawwell does not do is explain a change in strategy away from the project signings to instead recruit the quality, experienced players ready to make an impact in the Champions League. Two of our summer projects were signed and then thrown into the Champions League in Rotterdam in the opening match of the Champions League. Both were shown red cards. It is an unforgiving tournament and with the levels we have at the moment we cannot really expect a different outcome next season, unless there is a serious investment in the squad in the summer.

Referee Irfan Peljto gives the red card to Odin Thiago Holm of Celtic during the UEFA Champions League match between Feyenoord and Celtic FC at Feyenoord Stadium de Kuip on September 19, 2023 in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. ANP OLAF KRAAK

IF we go into the summer window as Champions – and at the moment the bookies have us down as second favourites – the Champions League windfall will be considerable. Otherwise it’s qualifiers and will be spend before those are sorted out? Do we ever win these anyway?

The January transfer window failings and frustrations, as detailed by Peter Lawwell today, could still be causing us problems come the summer.

Read the Celtic PLC Interim Report and the full statement from Peter Lawwell at the club’s official website.

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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

3 Comments

  1. All these figures do is pour petrol upon a smouldering fire within the club, with the positional to catch fire and burn everything within the club, as things stand imo?
    We still have potentially 15 games to try and salvage a very underwhelming season to date?
    The blame game isn’t going to solve nothing in the here and now and for the remainder of this season either.
    The burning question remains as to whether Rodgers can actually get anything from this squad of players available to him?
    Personally not convinced myself any longer, as only few and far glimpses of seeing what this team are capable of producing, but not on a consistent basis whatsoever, which remains as the biggest failure upon Rodgers as a manager imo?
    Nearly every season starts with ourselves looking to be a CL team and able to compete at that level?
    No different this season, yet we look nowhere near being classed as a CL team, despite having plenty of players available to ourselves and capable of playing at such a level?
    That’s how far we have regressed as a team under Rodgers, with players following suit in the downwards spiral?
    So now the extra pressure has been applied to ourselves, and all of our own making, where the margins of errors have disappeared to zero currently?
    Totally lost confidence within Rodgers of being able to turn this current shitshow around, even if it still remains possible to do so?
    The inquest for the season failures isn’t for now, but can’t afford to be ignored either?
    Heads do need to roll for putting the club into this current position, regardless of how the season finishes up imo?
    Despite my dislike of the events that have taken place this season, and the individuals involved in creating such a mess?
    My support will still be with the player’s, who in turn have raised many question marks regarding there commitments to the cause, which is a challenge within itself when no respect for our manager and those above him currently?
    Not really interested in the blame game presently, will wait for the inquest which is fast approaching, but remains undecided as to what manner or how it will be dealt with by the club?
    So even completing a double will do little to resolve the current disappointments that are currently within the club?
    Totally ridiculous situation to find our club in, with similarities arising to how the 10iar season felt?

  2. Just more excuses from our amateur hour board, we need professional football people in charge of decision making and cull this board/transfer system. We need a director of football who will identify managers and players to fit into the system under Ange that so excited us and ambition from our absentee landlord dd