Glasgow’s big two teams have good starts to both domestic and Europa Cup campaigns so far this season and both have just announced their financial results for 2018/19.
Everyone know that the rivalry between the clubs and especially their fans is intense, but do the accounts give the likes of @BearNecessities1872 and @PopeAndGlory on Twitter more point scoring opportunities against each other?
Revenue for clubs is generated from three sources, matchday, broadcasting and commercial.
Relative to the rest of Scottish football, where many clubs are so small, they are not legally obliged to show income and expenses in their accounts, Celtic and Rangers dominate as would be expected.
All clubs have committed fanbases but this is especially reflected in the big two in ticket sales with Celtic averaging nearly 58,000 every match at home last season and Rangers well over 49,000.
Revenue from matchday is calculated as number of tickets sold per match x average ticket price x number of home matches played.
Due to both clubs nearly selling out every match and fans being resistant to significant ticket price increases matchday revenue growth is only achieved via clubs increasing the number of matches played.
An impressive increase in Rangers matchday income was due to the club reaching the group stage of the Europa League whereas Celtic reached the last 32 of that competition.
Note that the two Glasgow clubs are significantly ahead of the Hearts, who have the third highest matchday income in the Scottish Premiership with just over £5 million.
Due to the level of support from fans that both Glasgow clubs would only be behind the ‘Big Six’ clubs in terms of Premier League matchday income.
Love it or loath it broadcast income is a big discriminator in terms of club earnings.
European cup participation makes a big difference to overall earnings.
Nevertheless, Scottish clubs both benefit and suffer from the complex distribution methods used to distribute money from UEFA.
Not many realise that Because BT pay the largest sum for Champions and Europa League rights in Europe, Scottish and English clubs benefit from this being distributed via what is called the market pool.
Only Scottish clubs relatively poor performance in UEFA competitions in recent years resulted in a low UEFA coefficient (which measures historical success by national teams in the Champions and Europa League) and therefore their share of this pot of money is far lower than that of England, Germany, Italy, Spain etc.
Not that fans will like it but paradoxically Rangers and Celtic both stand to benefit indirectly from all Scottish clubs progressing in Europe as this will increase their UEFA ranking, where being in the top 15 nations could have significant implications in future competitions.
Seeing Celtic’s broadcast income higher than that of Rangers needs further investigation and this was because Celtic made more progress in the domestic cups and in Europe.
Due to another one of UEFA’s pots of cash, which is linked to overall performance over the last decade in Europe, Celtic earned more broadcast revenue.
European participation for Rangers wasn’t the case when they were in the lower leagues of Scottish football for some of the last decade.
Broadcasting income in England is the major driver for the gap between Celtic and Rangers and Premier League clubs, but what is perhaps more alarming for their fans is that they are also behind many teams in the English Championship who are earning parachute payments.
Universally impressive for both clubs is the level of commercial income generated from sponsorship, advertising, kit manufacturing, merchandise and hospitality.
The impact of Steven Gerrard was a driver of Rangers increase in this income stream last season as sponsors are willing to pay more to be associated with such a high-profile individual
Sales from retail activities increased substantially at Ibrox last season but are still not maximising their potential due to an ongoing legal dispute with other parties including Mike Ashley, the Newcastle owner, which has restricted sales and had some fans boycotting products.
In the case of Celtic the club has had the benefit of European competition access including some Champions League participation in recent years to help them improve commercial income.
Numbers from the three revenue sources added together resulted in Celtic generating revenue of over a quarter of a billion pounds more than Rangers over the last six years but both clubs income still dwarfs that of Aberdeen, the club with the next largest income.
Gaps of that size are difficult to eliminate but last year was the narrowest for some time, yet Celtic still had a thirty-million-pound advantage over Rangers and that’s before considering player sales, although a Premiership win and participation in the group stages in the Champions League could change things for Rangers..
Looking at the profit and loss account in more detail showed that Celtic also had ‘other income’ of £8.8 million as compensation from Leicester City for headhunting Brendan Rodgers and his backroom team part way through the season.
Every club’s main costs are in respect of players via wages and transfer fee amortisation.
In the case of the two big Glasgow clubs their wage bills are far in excess of other Scottish clubs and Celtic’s higher income in turn allows them to pay higher wages than Rangers.
Steven Gerrard’s wages plus those of the players he signed resulted in Rangers wage bill increasing by over a third, whereas a lack of Champions League participation meant that Celtic’s wages falling slightly.
Player transfer fee amortisation is the amount paid spread over the length of the contract.
Estimating transfer fees is difficult as so many transfer fees are ‘undisclosed, but if Rangers signed Conor Goldson from Premier League Brighton for about £1.5 million on a four-year deal this would result in an amortisation cost of £375,000 per annum.
Rangers spending on the squad has increased noticeably since they returned to the top division and this is shown by the rise in their amortisation charge.
Success on the field for Celtic has resulted in a far bigger amortisation charge in recent years partly due to winning eight Premiership titles in a row.
Obviously, the income that such success brings domestically and in European competition has then been invested in player signings.
Notes to the accounts reveal that In addition to amortisation, both Rangers and Celtic reported ‘impairment’ costs of £1.6 million and £2 million respectively in relation to players whom they had signed whose poor performances meant their values were reduced.
A lot of fans will point their fingers at the likely individuals who suffered this ignominy but the clubs themselves are tight lipped on the matter.
Looking at Rangers ‘other costs’ these increased by 70% to over £21 million in 2018/19.
Just part of this is due to extra stewarding and policing in respect of Europa League matches at Ibrox but also an alarming £3.6 million increase in legal costs as Rangers disputes with Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct rumbled on throughout the year.
Every club sells as well as buys players and In recent years Celtic have made impressive profits selling one or two high profile players each year.
Selling Moussa Dembele to Lyon for about £20 million generated a big profit as the player cost the club a fraction of that sum from Fulham.
Upping profits for next season for Celtic will be the sale of Kieran Tierney which took place after the accounting year ended and that will contribute £25 million.
Selling player by Rangers has not been such a contribution to the bottom line, although the prolific Alfredo Morelos is likely to command a high price should he leave the club in the next year or so.
Buying into Steven Gerrard’s vision for the club last season meant Rangers outspent Celtic for the first time in many years in terms of player signings.
Profits and Losses
Yearly profits are total income less costs and whilst Celtic’s fell significantly in 2018/19 they were still substantially ahead of Rangers.
Desperate times can arise If a club is losing money, as the only way to survive is to sell off assets or have funding from lenders or shareholders.
Even though Rangers didn’t sell any players for large fees they generated £2 million from share issues and £8 million from loans in 2018/19 to plug the gap from day to day losses, whereas Celtic needed no such funding.
Predictably given their respective finances Celtic and Rangers finished in the top two positions in the Premiership in 2018/19.
Exploiting the financial gap between these two clubs and the rest of the division, means that it will be difficult for other Premiership clubs to make a challenge for the top positions in the league, especially with their relative success to date in the Europa League in 2019/20.
Celtic have a noticeable advantage over Rangers in terms of income generation and profitability, partly due to their ability to buy low and sell high in terms of player trading, and this has allowed them to pay higher wages, which is usually, but not always, reflected on the pitch.
Having this advantage gives Celtic a greater, but not guaranteed, chance of success in terms of trophies.
Even so, Rangers is potentially going to continue to lose money unless a more successful player trading policy and a resolution to ongoing legal disputes is achieved.
Most concerning is that in the accounts are the comments from Rangers auditors highlighting the club’s ability to trade as a going concern.
Only investment by Dave King and other investor plugged the gaps in Rangers finances last season and £16.6 million of shareholder loans were effectively written off by being converted into shares, diluting other shareholdings in the process, and King has been subject to criticism by the Takeover Panel for some of his actions.
Due to Rangers finances being precarious if investors are unable or unwilling to cover the losses indefinitely then Rangers would face substantial cost cutting or what Sir Alex Ferguson would call ‘squeaky bum time’.
Every Rangers fan will be asking themselves, given the clubs recent history, whether or not they are willing to take this risk if it stops Celtic winning ten titles in a row?