Celtic plc: nine in a row, short-term financial blow

Celtic plc published a stock exchange trading statement on Monday afternoon following the announcement by the Scottish Premier Football League (SPFL) that the club has been awarded its ninth consecutive Scottish Premiership title.

Celtic said that while the cancellation of the remaining games of the 2019-2020 Ladbrokes Premiership season “will have a short-term impact on the finances of the club” Celtic remains in a “strong” financial position.

Celtic said that “with the current outlook remaining uncertain due to the impacts of Covid-19” the company is withdrawing current market guidance.

Celtic plc’s major shareholders include Dermott Desmond with 34.76%, London-based investment firm Lindsell Train Ltd with 18%, Christopher Trainer with 10.4% and James Keane with 6.3%.

The statement read: “Since the interim period end at 31 December 2019, and up to 7 March 2020 (last game played by Celtic), the club has continued to deliver strong football performance including being ranked first in the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership with 80 points (30 games played), are semi-finalists of the Scottish Cup and were Scottish League Cup winners in December 2019.

“However, the Covid-19 outbreak in Scotland has impacted the club’s operations and premises. 

“Additionally, since 13 March 2020, mass gatherings including professional football matches have been postponed following action taken by the relevant authorities responding to the Covid-19 outbreak and no football has been played since.

“Following today’s decision from the SPFL, it has been announced that the remaining games of the 2019/2020 Ladbrokes Premiership season will no longer be played and Celtic has therefore been awarded its ninth consecutive Scottish Premiership title, matching an historic milestone only once before achieved by the club in 1974.

“With the current outlook remaining uncertain due to the impacts of Covid-19, the board of Celtic is withdrawing current market guidance and will look to provide an update on guidance once more clarity is known. 

“The club currently expects to publish its full year results in the autumn of 2020.”

On its funding and liquidity, Celtic plc said: “Whilst today’s decision will have a short-term impact on the finances of the club, Celtic remains in a strong financial position through its robust balance sheet in terms of player registrations and deferred transfer receivables.

“Since the Covid-19 outbreak, the board has continued to take the appropriate steps to manage its capital, other expenditure and improve cash flow, to ensure the business continues to be well capitalised and has sufficient liquidity during this period of uncertainty.

“Measures include the club’s chief executive, manager, non-executive directors, first-team squad, executive team, and backroom staff, including academy and football operation executives, volunteering to take significant reductions in salaries as well as making deferrals on a significant proportion of earnings.”

Celtic plc added: “The club would like to thank its supporters, players, staff, commercial partners and other stakeholders for their continued support during this uncertain time.

“Celtic remains focused on ensuring that the safety of all its stakeholders is paramount in the current environment.

“The club will celebrate the achievement of winning the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership at the appropriate time.

“In the meantime the club looks forward to the commencement of season 2020/21; news on the completion of the 2019/20 Scottish Cup; and a lucrative five-year technical kit partnership with Adidas, that will take effect from 1 July 2020, and will initially run until the summer of 2025.”