Scottish Premier League news

Reid hails Lennon

August 15, 2011

Celtic chairman John Reid has praised manager Neil Lennon for restoring the "pride and passion" as the club reported a return to profit and a reduction in bank debt of more than £5 million.

Celtic's preliminary financial results showed a profit of £102,000 for the year ending June 30, which followed a loss of more than £2 million in the previous 12 months.

The club reduced their net bank debt to £530,000, well down on the previous year's total of £5.85million and the half-year figure of £9.1 million that Celtic subsequently reported.

Reid explained the higher debt totals had been planned to fund Lennon's squad rebuilding last year, while the reduction was designed to maintain financial stability and independence.

The profit came despite a fall in group revenue of more than £9 million to £52.6 million, with Reid pointing to a number of factors including the unsuccessful reign of Tony Mowbray in the previous season, when Celtic failed to win a trophy.

Celtic also had just two European home games, against Braga and Utrecht, but their finances were helped by a near-10% reduction in operating expenses to £52.5 million.

Reid described the results as "outstanding" in the circumstances, particularly after what he had termed a "disappointing" half-yearly performance in February.

Although Celtic recorded a £7.1 million profit in those six months, that was largely down to the £9.5 million sale of Aiden McGeady to Spartak Moscow with the club warning then that the second part of the season would be "more challenging".

Celtic invested more than £10 million on transfers in the period, more than £3 million less than during Mowbray's reign, and Reid was delighted that the club had balanced the books in the process.

In his final annual statement as chairman, Reid said: "Football was not any more immune from the recession than any other activity.

"Our participation in Europe was shortlived, playing only two home games rather than the five of the preceding year. Those challenging economic conditions and the poor football performance in season 2009-10 undoubtedly had a detrimental effect on our revenues.

"Turnover decreased by 14.8% to £52.56m, affected by the reduction in European matches and the ticket and broadcasting revenues that they generate, and a decline in merchandising sales in a difficult retail market."

Reid added: "Against this background the achievements of everyone at the club - management, staff and our faithful supporters - appear even more outstanding. To achieve and maintain financial stability, and attain a very manageable debt position, while continuing to invest significantly in strengthening the football squad and generate profit in the football sector in Scotland in these conditions is highly commendable.

"And yet as our annual report shows, as a result of these efforts and our activity in the transfer market we managed to turn last year's loss into break-even, to reduce our debt considerably and still invest a substantial amount in new players."

Reid referred to threats made against Lennon when he praised the manager for the "remarkable strength and character" shown in his first full season in charge, which yielded a Scottish Cup success with Celtic runners-up in the other two domestic trophies.

"At Celtic our expectations of a manager are so high that it is easy to overlook just how challenging that job is," the former Home Secretary said. "In his first full season as a manager Neil has succeeded in restoring a pride and passion to our play, showcasing emerging talent and uniting our supporters."

Reid argued that would be a major achievement in any normal environment but in a context of death threats and explosive devices, among other challenges, it was "nothing short of extraordinary".

The Labour peer added: "The commitment Neil and his family have shown this season, and that accorded to him by fans, is what makes this club truly special."

The chairman, who will stand down at the club's next AGM, admitted Celtic's scouting network and youth development department were becoming increasingly important in the absence of lucrative broadcasting deals.

The likes of Israel midfielder Beram Kayal and Honduras left-back Emilio Izaguirre won great acclaim for their performances after being signed last summer for a combined fee of around £2 million, and were subsequently linked with significantly more expensive moves.

Celtic's balance sheet reveals a profit of almost £6 million in their "investing activities" as opposed to a loss of more than £7 million the previous year.

As well as McGeady, Celtic also sold the likes of Stephen McManus, Artur Boruc and Marc-Antoine Fortune last summer and have been far quieter in the transfer market this year.

Kelvin Wilson and Adam Matthews both arrived on free transfers while defender Victor Wanyama was signed for about £900,000.