Strachan has full support of Celtic over transfers

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The Independent Online

The Celtic chairman Brian Quinn will give his full backing to the manager Gordon Strachan in the transfer market, but has warned that the lesser revenue within Scottish football will see the club remain "cautious" over finances.

The SPL champions and Scottish League Cup winners have announced encouraging financial results for the year. Failure to qualify for the Champions' League and Uefa Cup last season saw turnover fall by 7.7 per cent to £57.41m. But, despite that, they reduced the debt significantly to £9.09m, compared to the £19.33m for 2005, which was largely down to the successful £15m share issue.

Celtic also saw operating expenses reduced by 7.6 per cent to £53.67m and profits from operations of £3.74m. They also handed new contracts to Stilian Petrov, Stephen McManus, Stanislav Varga, Neil Lennon and Shunsuke Nakamura.

The club also saw building start on the new training academy at Lennoxtown, the successful launch of new playing kits under the new agreement with Nike and the extension of their Carling shirt sponsorship contract until 2010.

Quinn concedes that the Glasgow giants are on a less-than-level financial playing field when compared with the sums of money distributed to Premiership clubs in England via television income.

"I do not want to speak about bringing people in, but all I will say is that any money we do generate from things all goes back into the football club," Quinn said. "We want to bring top-quality players in but, when we have extended pre-season matches [in Japan and at Chelsea], that is for the good of the club and the manager. We cannot compete with the English Premiership in terms of television revenues, so we have to stay cautious.

"But the manager will receive the support of the board and we will put the money back into the football team.

"Gordon has been excellent since coming in. He is a very dedicated person and extremely hard-working. He has brought in a lot of younger players and let us not forget what a tough start he had here. He has overcome that because he is a tough character and deserves all the success which comes his way. We all feel he is the right man for the job and we can all look ahead."

Quinn also believes the Lennoxtown facility will prove to be a major benefit in the development of young players - to offset the need for big-money transfer fees in the future.

"There are no hard and fast rules with debt, but I certainly wouldn't like it creeping up. We would be quite comfortable to stay at the level of debt at £9m, especially when you consider the figure a few years ago. We are not mad about getting that down to zero.

"Squad restructuring is an especially challenging task in today's transfer market. The reduction in transfer fees evident several seasons ago, as clubs in the UK reordered their finances, has been replaced with a market which, in any other business sector, would be considered overheated.

"Likewise, salary packages for footballers are probably higher than they have ever been, not just for those of the highest calibre, but also for many outside the élite category.

"The main driver seems to be the substantially larger sums available to English Premiership clubs from the recently agreed television contract. Many clubs are spending money now that will not be available for another year, creating echoes of the last boom-and-bust in football.

"What is clear is that, despite the welcome increase in the value of the SPL television contract, Celtic and other clubs in Scotland endeavouring to compete in European competition find themselves at a serious disadvantage.

"This is compounded by the distribution model for Champions' League revenues which favours the larger nations."

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