Celtic chairman Ian Bankier says club won't make 'hasty decisions' despite financial losses

Celtic reveal pre-tax loss of almost £6m and decrease in revenue of almost 24 per cent in half-year financial report; Celtic chairman Ian Bankier: "We will not make hasty decisions that we might regret. There is considerable uncertainty as to how and when the game will get back to normal"

Celtic Park
Image: Celtic's latest financial results accounted for the second half of 2020

Celtic chairman Ian Bankier has acknowledged the club's season as a "disappointment" but insisted the board will not "make hasty decisions that we might regret" after revealing a pre-tax loss of almost £6m in a half-year financial report.

Manager Neil Lennon has faced heavy criticism from the club's supporters but Bankier has reiterated the board's pre-Christmas stance of being wary of making major changes amid the uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic.

The board's December 7 statement said Lennon's position would be "reviewed in the new year" and the manager appears to have retained their backing despite Celtic remaining 18 points behind Scottish Premiership leaders Rangers as they look set to fall short in their bid for a 10th successive title. The club have also been knocked out of Europe and the Betfred Cup.

Bankier's latest message to the club's supporters followed the release of a financial report, which showed a decrease in revenue of almost 24 per cent in the six months to December 31, 2020.

Celtic chairman Ian Bankier (PA image)
Image: Celtic chairman Ian Bankier says the club's performance this season has been a "disappointment"

The statement said: "In recent weeks, the club has been the subject of widespread comment mostly concerning, but not limited to, the team's performance. I have received correspondence from fans expressing their anxiety and seeking information. These messages and feelings are not being ignored and I accept with due humility what has been said. The frustration that is expressed is clear and unambiguous. It is shared throughout the whole club. That includes, the directors, our football management team, staff and the players.

"It is acknowledged that the season, to date, has been a disappointment. We approached it with justifiable confidence. Having been crowned league champions for the ninth year in a row, we looked forward to making it a Quadruple Treble in the delayed Scottish Cup. We retained a number of highly sought-after players, so as to have the strongest possible squad going into this season. We supplemented our player pool by investing in new player registrations. We had in place a manager with a proven record and the core of a squad who had created history for the club.

"But the harsh reality has been that, thus far, we have not achieved the results we have sought. We have not met the consistently high standards that we have become accustomed to. We do not shy away from these cold facts.

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"Across the plethora of media channels, comments and criticisms are instant. Evaluating our options in order to make the right decisions at this time in the club's history cannot be instant. As things stand today, we are operating under Government-imposed restrictions with no clear horizon.

PERTH, SCOTLAND - FEBRUARY 14: Celtic Manager Neil Lennon during a Scottish Premiership match between St Johnstone and Celtic at McDiarmid Park, on February 14, 2021, in Perth, Scotland. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)
Image: Celtic manager Neil Lennon has come in for heavy criticism for the club's performances this season

"We are in the period of review we indicated in our announcement of 7th December. I must state clearly that all decisions we take will be taken calmly and rationally. We will not make hasty decisions that we might regret. There is considerable uncertainty as to how and when the game will get back to normal."

In a separate statement accompanying the release of the club's financial results, Bankier cited keeping Lennon's squad intact over the summer and the adverse impact of Covid-19 as "two key factors" in the losses.

The report showed revenues of £40.7m (down from £53.3m in 2019) and a loss before taxation of £5.9m where there had been a profit of £24.4m in 2019.

The loss from trading, representing the loss excluding player-related gains and charges, amounted to £0.3m (profit of £7.1m in 2019) and period end net cash at bank was £19.7m (£32.9m in 2019).

Celtic beat St Johstone 2:09
Highlights of the Scottish Premiership game between St Johnstone and Celtic

Bankier said: "The two key factors that adversely affected our financial results for the period under review were: firstly, reduced gains from player trading as we sought to keep intact our squad this season; and, secondly, the unforeseen and prolonged value destructive impact of Covid-19.

"Our strategy for season 2020/21 was to invest in the team and to retain our best players, with the objective of delivering the league championship.

"As a result, gains from player trading were minimal. The effects of Covid-19 have persisted longer than many could have envisaged and, as a result, our crucial match day and other income streams derived from our stadium have been reduced to negligible proportions.

"These two factors largely explain the reduction in our profit before tax. No football club is immune from the effects of Covid-19."

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