Celtic plc first-half revenue rose 11% to £85.2m

Celtic plc announced that its revenue increased 11% to £85.2 million in the six months to December 31, 2023, while profit before taxation slipped to £30.3 million from £33.9 million.

Profit from trading rose to £32 million from £28.1 million, profit from transfer of player registrations was £2.6m (2022: £1.8m) and acquisition of player registrations totaled £12.9 million (2022: £5.7m).

Period end cash net of bank borrowings was £67.3 million (2022: £59.2m).

Celtic chairman Peter Lawwell said in a statement: “We benefited from Champions League qualification in both 2022 and 2023 and increased underlying revenue by £8.7m to £85.2m in the first half of 2023 relative to the same period last year.

“The key factors in this were higher UEFA distributions this year alongside a general incremental upturn in trading across almost all revenue streams. 

“A significant portion of this revenue increase was re-invested into football wages and salaries resulting in the profit from trading of £32.0m noted above.

“Amortisation charges were broadly in line with the same period last year and gains from player trading amounted to £2.6m for the six months to 31 December 2023 (2022: £1.8m). These principally related to the disposal of Carl Starfelt and several contingent fees that crystalised in the period.

Profit before finance income & expense and taxation fell to £28.5m, down from £33.8m in the prior year, despite the significant revenue increase. This is attributable to the increase in the football related investment alongside the absence of a significant non-recurring insurance receipt recognised in the prior period.

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. 

Although disappointed by the second-round exit of the League Cup away to Kilmarnock, we looked forward to our Champions League draw against Feyenoord, Atletico Madrid and Lazio. We achieved four points in the group stages and, whilst representing an improvement over last season’s two points, we finished fourth in the group stage.

“We took consolation from a number of good performances which will serve our squad well, but our objective is to keep improving and competing in Europe. Looking towards the year ahead, winning the SPFL and the Scottish Cup is our immediate focus and priority.

“With 12 matches remaining in the league and having reached the quarter final of the Scottish Cup, there remains a long way to go and all to play for. We will all unite behind the team for these purposes.

We also look forward to the creation of our new Barrowfield facility which is scheduled for the end of 2024 and will bring high quality facilities for our women’s and academy squads.

“We are also nearing the completion of a significant investment in Lennoxtown delivering new First Team and B Team changing areas and a newly enhanced medical and sports science facility. Investment in infrastructure is a key component of success in modern football.

December 2023 saw the departure of our women’s team manager, Fran Alonso, to a new opportunity in one of the top women’s football leagues in the world.

“Fran leaves us with our best wishes after almost four years with Celtic having overseen the transition of the women’s team to professional status and having won the League Cup, two back-to-back Scottish Cups and narrowly missing out on the SWPL league title last season.

“Fran leaves us in a strong position and was recently replaced by Elena Sadiku. We wish to welcome Elena, at what is an exciting time for the women’s game at Celtic and in Scotland.

UEFA and the European Club Association are close to agreeing the final aspects of the revised European Club Competition model.

“This will bring an exciting new format to European football and the opportunity to participate in more matches and give access to more teams across Europe.

“Pending completion of these discussions, this should provide stability and certainty for several years for the European football landscape.

As is often the case with the club’s earnings profile, we naturally expect a seasonal downturn in earnings in the second half of the year.

“In general terms, earnings are biased towards the first half of the year aligned to the receipts from European competition, whereas the second half is characterised by significant accounting losses. This is entirely within expectations and our planning assumptions.

“Our outturn earnings can also be materially impacted by football success and the year-end assessment of player registration carrying values.

“Taking all of this into consideration, we would expect our total outturn financial performance for the year ending 30 June 2024 to be significantly lower than the result posted for the first six months of the financial year.

On behalf of the board and everyone at Celtic Football Club, I wish to extend our gratitude and appreciation to our supporters for the backing of our club. Thanks also must go to our shareholders and commercial partners for their continued support.”