The Epoch Games

It is perhaps fitting that Celtic shared the news today that the Barrowfield training complex is becoming a concrete and steel reality.

Of course, expanding academy facilities is a good thing anyway, but there are other benefits.

UEFA will be pleased with this development, which will be considered when calculating the Parkhead club’s permissible wage budget under the new Financial Sustainability Regulations (FSR).

It could also allow greater space for corporate facilities in the South Stand, which would result in more matchday revenue.

Yesterday, my social media feed reminded me that it had been 26 years since Harald Brattbakk scored the goal that secured the league title, thus preventing the bank-funded Rangers from doing Ten In A Row in 1998.

It was an epoch-defining victory.

The scene behind the goal was instructive.

Celtic Park was, quite literally, a work in progress.

Once it was completed, the new stadium was substantially larger than Ibrox.

This isn’t just a matter of bragging rights over rivals but of having an inbuilt financial advantage that would have long-term results.

David Low, the football finance expert who was in the room at the bank when Fergus signed the papers to secure Celtic from receivership, has estimated that the Parkeahed club starts every year with a £15m head start on their city neighbours.

We are now in the third decade of that new stadium, so it is possible to look back and gauge the McCann legacy.

At the start of this century, Rangers coped with this by using creative taxation strategies, which resulted in HMRC  finally turning off life support in June 2012.

Then it was Charles Green and his “onerous contracts”, and since the Off Licence Putsch, it has been the “soft investment” envisaged by the man with 41 convictions for …yes…tax offences!

In 2024, the banking option is long gone.

Moreover, Hector keeps a close eye on things these days, and UEFA’s FSR ordinances mean that the brotherly SFA doesn’t get to do the paperwork for Euro licences anymore.

The original club at Ibrox should not have been permitted to play in European competitions in its final year of existence.

That fact is now a matter of public record, and you can read about it here.

When Craig Whyte’s Rangers were denied access to the Champions League after the defeat in Malmo, this journalist confidently predicted that the Ibrox club would not see out season 2011-2012 without experiencing an insolvency event.

UEFA revenues were a key part of Mr Whyte’s financial calculations.

In season 2024-2025, the SPFL champions will have automatic access to the expanded competition and a fortune in revenue.

That is why victory in the Glasgow Derby tomorrow is vital for Sevco.

Like the match against the Perth side in 1998, it could define an epoch.

Hence tomorrow could be the day for entirely innocent officiating errors in the VAR room.

It is certainly a title decider, and in the battle of fine margins, it could be a tale of two goalkeepers.

The much-loved Joe Hart is now in the final few matches of a fine career.

Across the city, Jack Butland is one of the few recruitment successes that the basket of assets can point to in recent years.

I’m sure that despite the conversation with the dignified chap after the Kilmarnock game, he remains committed to the Sevco cause.

However, in another part of the Fitba Multiverse, another Jack Butland has just submitted a transfer request to an entirely calm Philippe Clement.

As Erik Durschmied pointed out in his brilliant book The Hinge Factor, seemingly innocuous events can have epoch-defining outcomes.

However, that only becomes apparent after the fact.

6 thoughts on “The Epoch Games”

  1. I still have my replica top from that year (Mrs O’Doors wants to get rid of it🙄), but I won’t part with it given how much it meant to win that season🥰
    Even more valuable to me now given that they were funded ‘buy’ the bank at that point and we had to do it the hard way😎
    If we lose tomorrow, it’ll be down to dodgy referees/VAR or similar, and then myself (and probably a lot of other fans of football – not just Celtic) will call it quits for watching what is much like the WWE and a fixed ‘sport’ (or as they call it ‘Sports Entertainment’).

  2. This outcome of this season can be defined very simply. It’s DOUBLE OR QUITS!! We either double our advantage over them , or financially they draw level!

    • No.
      I’m afraid that you’re as wrong in your calculations as you are bravely anonymnous my dear “Charger”.
      The £15m advantage is an ANNUAL boost.
      Moroever, Celtic’s commerical revenues are several times bigger than Sevco.
      However, if the 12 year old club were to access those enhanced UEFA revenues it would stem the flow for perhaps two seasons.

    • It would allow offices to be moved from the South Stand to the new building-thus freeing up floor space for corporate facilities.


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