Lawwell plays down Celtic finances

Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell has played down the impact of a £2 million increase in debt and an annual loss of more than £7 million as the Scottish Premier League champion reported its preliminary financial results.

The preliminary results for the year ended 30 June, 2012, showed a decline in turnover to £51.34 million ($79.96 million), an increase in operating expenses of £1.93 million ($3.01 million) and an overall loss in the period of £7.37 million ($11.48 million) against a very slight profit the year before. The level of debt has risen from £0.53 million ($0.83 million) in June 2011 to £2.77 million ($4.31 million) in June 2012.

Celtic is in UEFA Champions League action against Benfica on Wednesday evening (Thursday morning AEST), having won the SPL title, and those achievements justify the figures, according to Lawwell.

"The club's in a decent place and we have built up over the past few years," Lawwell told

"We are in the Champions League and we have a great foundation, a great basis to take the club forward. There will be challenging times ahead but we are prepared for that."

The sale of Korea Republic international Ki Sung-yueng to Swansea City and rewards of qualification for the Champions League group stage were not part of the preliminary results, having occurred after the time period.

"You can see that we have registered a loss, to June 30, 2012, of just under £7.4 million ($11.52 million)," Lawwell added.

"Now that loss, we could have eliminated if we had taken the opportunity to sell one or two players in January and cut the wage bill, but our main priority was to win the SPL and hopefully give us a pathway into the Champions League, so we made a conscious decision to keep the squad together, not to sell, and to keep a level of investment in the wage bill.

"Thankfully we won the SPL, which is great credit to Neil and his team.

"We were able to make that decision because of the financial strength that we've built up over the previous years, which put us in a very good position, and you can see that - that's reflected in our debt.

"Although making that loss, our debt level is still under £3 million ($4.67 million), which is very comfortable for a club of Celtic's size and revenue streams.

"In terms of our planning, and our scale, we would be comfortable with that level of debt and, of course, going forward, with a successful transfer window in terms of player trading, the fact that we're now in the Champions League, that becomes even more manageable."