120 Days Of Sod Em

P1040536There is no prize for anyone who gets the joke in the title.

As many will know, it’s a reference to a book, a book that was never actually published whilst the writer was alive. It’s probably just as well. His deviant behaviour, and some of his previous works, had seen him imprisoned, even confined to a mental institution.

His name will be known to many only because they’ve seen a movie or because part of it has been appropriated for a word. The word is sadism, and people who think I’m a sadist for the satisfaction I take in the spiralling disaster at Ibrox are not really wrong.

There is a certain satisfaction in it, and I don’t deny it.

The writer was a Frenchman, an aristocrat, a politician, a revolutionary, a philosopher and sometimes author, notorious for his liberal positions on sex. His name was Donatien Alphonse François de Sade.

We know him today as the Marquis de Sade. It’s not for nothing that he has become not so much famous as notorious.

The theme of his sprawling pornographic novel 120 Days of Sodom is the same as that for all of his books; suffering. Some critics have said that includes the suffering of the reader. I came across him some 20 years ago now, when I read his book Justine: The Misfortunes of Virtue. A lot of 17 year olds have, doubtless, picked up his books on the lookout for dirty words … I wasn’t thus inclined. I had read what we’ll call a “review” of the book in another, Beyond Belief, about the Moors Murders, by the playwright Emlyn Williams.

Williams believed Ian Brady was partly motivated by his reading of de Sade, something I found, then and now, to be ridiculous, on a par with those who blame video games and movies for those who commit violent acts. Nevertheless, I was intrigued enough to check de Sade out, and I found his books every bit as over the top as they’d sounded. They do what it says on the tin, taking you into a depraved world and a very depraved mind.

An understanding of suffering goes with the territory. If there were Sevco Rangers shops, instead of online retail websites owned by Sports Direct, they might have done well stocking up on the Marquis’ back titles.

The 120 Day Review has just been published. Like de Sade’s books, it tells a lurid, squalid tale, and the over-riding point that comes from it is that the suffering has just started for the fans of Sevco Rangers. The thing weighs in at a wholly unspectacular 2700 words … a Kit Kat and coffee break number for seasoned writers, and there’s not a lot in there we haven’t already covered a hundred times on this site and others. Yet, it wasn’t a damp squib.

I drew ten principle conclusions from my early read of the document. They are as follows:

1) No bank will lend them money. This is evidenced in several places throughout the 2700 words. They have no credit facility at all. The people the fans are screaming at to do something for the club are carrying losses daily. I hope that point is understood by Sevco Rangers supporters … you are crucifying the people who, quite literally, are keeping on the lights.

2) They have made efforts to re-mortgage non essential assets, like the Edminston House and the Albion Street Carpark, and these have been knocked back. They had hoped to raise £2 million from the “refinancing” of these assets … and it hasn’t been realised.

3) Things are so bad that no company is willing to handle their season ticket payment scheme without demanding an excruciating security (apparently their current broker wanted Ibrox as security) …. This has led to the absolutely unbelievable, humiliating, ghastly spectacle of their fans being unable to renew season tickets with debit or credit cards. This has so many implications I won’t go into them until later in the piece.

4) They’ve extended the season ticket sales deadline … perhaps in light of the above …

5) Wallace believes they can’t afford the current playing squad. He believes that they spent too much last year and that the current wage bill is unsustainable. The press somehow thinks he is promising Ally a transfer war chest. I read lines like “The ability to influence the composition and cost of the squad in the short term is limited due to existing contract periods and terms …” and I see McCoist being told to sell before he can buy.

6) They are hiring a Chief Football Operations Officer. We might call that a Director of Football, who will be Ally’s direct superior. This is the guy who will decide whether McCoist gets two sugar lumps with his cornflakes in the morning. The manager is, essentially, being put on a leash.

7) They are also going to hire another Chief Finance operator, to help them maximise revenues. This probably shouldn’t be surprising considering they’re pleading poverty but could pay for a finance expert to tell them they needed to save money, and are presently paying a PR guy to spin this horrible mess in a way the fans can stomach.

8) Wallace has talked about the need for a new share issue, but he is saying they can’t have one without an EGM or AGM. He says it will, therefore, be “Autumn” at least before they can even start thinking about that. I don’t know how long it takes to set up a share issue, but one would think it’ll be months at the earlier. He has just given a huge hostage to fortune. They need sufficient season ticket income to struggle on until, at least, early next year. Good luck with that one ….

9) They are so skint they regarded the purchasing of jumbo screens and stadium wifi to be a gross waste of money they didn’t have. For a club the size of Celtic, this would be the equivalent of me downgrading my Kit Kats to plain old Rich Tea biscuits. When they are expressing concern over such frivolities you know the problems are deep and getting deeper.

10) They have warned that if season ticket sales aren’t sufficient to allow them to get by until the share issue (eight months away at least, don’t forget) that they will have to consider drastic measures …. and they don’t say what those drastic measures would be, but we can guess.

Staff involved in non-football operations are going to lose their jobs as the club “outsources” those areas to minimum wage paying companies, and there are moves afoot inside Ibrox to end some commercial contracts where they are not getting “value for money.” In other words, all the gravy trains Charles Green and others set rolling on behalf of their mates are coming to an end … but a negotiated end, which will cost them more money again. I laughed when I read that when some of these commercial deals were signed “the club did not use lawyers to protect its interests.”

Yeah, I just bet they didn’t ….

I think we can skip over the parts where they set their “goals”; to win the Championship one year, to get second place in the SPFL Premiership the next year and to win the title in year three. Without a specific roadmap for reaching these objectives this is headline fodder only. Hearts, or Raith Rovers, or Hamilton might set the same targets, and have the same chance of meeting them.

Sevco Rangers fans now have very good reasons to be very afraid. Season ticket renewals just got harder at a time when every penny is going to be needed. The enormous, calamitous, absolutely unbelievable spectacle of them having to reject payment by credit or debit card is like a meteor strike. If no commercial organisation will provide a service like that without demanding a vast security deposit this really is like a bottomless pit. How can they expect to raise money from a new share issue in circumstances like that?

Some sites have already speculated whether this admission leaves them in violation of their SFA licensing requirements. I snigger at the idea the SFA will suddenly take seriously what they have failed to in years gone by. Pressing them on that is a dead end, particularly when Stewart Regan, the highly paid chief executive of the organisation, didn’t even know, when questioned yesterday, whether the club has even submitted up to date accounts. His card, like that of his boss in the president’s office, is surely marked. These two will certainly depart together, as they should. The “governing body” has completely lost all moral authority for administering our game.

Sevco Rangers fans now face their most difficult choice in years. Their club is in the most dire position imaginable. The requirement for an AGM before they can even begin serious fund raising through a share issue means the future is suffering, and it obliterates the King Plan at a stroke. His one advantage is that his new company can take credit and debit card payments for the moment, or at least until someone reports him under the Companies Act 2006 for holding a directorship when his ability to do so is questionable at best.

In a way, we really have learned nothing new today … but it has crystallised those things we did know, and it paints a picture of an unfolding disaster which is still proceeding at pace.

It was supposed to offer hope, and answers, to the supporters. A way out of the hole. Instead it confirms that the hole is deeper than they thought, deeper than they were told, that the sides are crumbling around them and it’s filling up with water fast.

Already, there are jokes doing the rounds on the Celtic fan sites regarding the publication of this epochal business document. “Good work,” one friend of mine said to me earlier, “but what did Wallace do with the other 119 days?”

Who knows? Did he paint a house? Write a book? Build a model aircraft carrier? All I know is that, for me anyway, it was worth the wait.

The Marquis himself said something once that might give succour to Sevco Rangers fans here, on this day when the damage being done to their club is exposed in all its naked glory:

““It is always by way of pain one arrives at pleasure.”

You see that distant, distant spot on the horizon? When you get to that, just keep on going, and in the meantime enjoy the pain.

The pleasure is still a long, long, long, way away.

[calameo code=0013829934949a119a7fc width=550 height=356 view=book page=98 mode=viewer]

James Forrest

James Forrest is a writer and blogger from Glasgow, and the author of two books, Fragments and Believers, which are available on Amazon.

22 thoughts on “120 Days Of Sod Em

  • 25 April, 2014 at 2:08 pm
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    Unlike Hollywood, Ranger’s sequels are more hilarious than the original …

  • 25 April, 2014 at 3:40 pm
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    None of it makes any sense unless it is a plan set to fail and to facilitate exits stage left and right with no single person to blame.

    120 days of well paid and well bonus-ed doing nothing.

  • 25 April, 2014 at 4:06 pm
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    Quality piece, out of the 2700 words in Wallace’s review there’s only 2 that sevco fans should concern themselves with.” YOUR FUCKED” ,HAIL HAIL

  • 25 April, 2014 at 4:20 pm
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    what a great time to be tim like my auld da would have said hell mend them

  • 25 April, 2014 at 5:04 pm
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    James,

    To make your point did you have to give space to the words of a sectarian, immoral, pornographer and proponent of violence?

    Sorry to be negative, but I think you spoiled your case.

  • 25 April, 2014 at 5:10 pm
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    Good piece which explains clearly the mess they are in again.
    The spot in the distance that they think they can see is a mirage. They have learned nothing in the last 3 years. They keep thinking they see a Blue knight or a Whyte knight or a king coming to solve their problems. They had the money to get them back on track but blue it on over night stays for overpaid under achieving players and staff

  • 25 April, 2014 at 9:58 pm
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    Class piece,again,James.
    I love when the Zombies post on your blog,you can tell it’s really getting to.them.
    They deserve all. they get.
    Long may they suffer,and continue to.look for hand-outs.
    While Celtic get richer and richer with Champions League wealth.
    Oh how great it is to be a Tim !!

  • 25 April, 2014 at 11:04 pm
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    WILMACUFREE – James often uses a literary (or other) source which has personally influenced him as an intro to his articles – he’s a writer and whether or not it adds or detracts from his core argument is irrelevant – it’s usually an interesting starter before the main course.

    James –

    Reading the piece on the BBC Sport website I’m surprised you didn’t take up such quotes as –
    “The board considers that the perfect opportunity to rebuild Rangers immediately post administration in a progressive, stable manner with a solid financial base has been completely missed,”
    Seems the board are not entirely stupid (or perhaps they follow your blogs)
    My favourite one, however, is this –
    Rangers admitted the £70.7m raised though season ticket sales, commercial revenues and a 2012 share issue had been spent “relatively quickly, and in some areas liberally”.
    In what areas was the money “liberally” spent? Surely not the squad? This cannot be a direct dig at SuperAlly?
    I’ve been laughing more over the last 2 years than I did when I first watched “The Life of Brian” aged 14.
    And it keeps getting funnier.
    Keep up the good work James.

  • 25 April, 2014 at 11:40 pm
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    Another day where the Celtic-minded bloggers were proven far from “paranoid” or “obsessed”. Another day were the likes of yourself have been proven right once again.
    Keep warning them, James etc. The Rangers fans will continue to refuse to listen, will continue to throw derogatory remarks, will continue to hear no evil and see no evil until it is far, far too late.
    I don’t see a way for them to ever recover. I sympathise with the not-so-savvy supporters who continue to get their heads melted with the crazy Scottish footballing press. It’s a choice between a South African conman trying to starve the team and bleed them completely dry with no realistic plan or investing in an infrastructure so unstable and corrupt and to watch a dire team thanks to a dire manager that seems utterly devoid of rational thought.
    Bravo James! Bravo TSFM. Bravo “Mad Phil”. I only hope you continue to focus on the corruption at the very top of our game and let this disillusioned tribute act rot in silence. Then watch the whole shithouse of Scottish football rise from the ashes and become credible once more.
    Ogilvie OUT!

  • 26 April, 2014 at 1:08 am
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    IAIN1770 says:
    25 APRIL, 2014 AT 11:04 PM
    WILMACUFREE – James often uses a literary (or other) source which has personally influenced him as an intro to his articles – he’s a writer and whether or not it adds or detracts from his core argument is irrelevant – it’s usually an interesting starter before the main course.
    ——————
    Iain1770,

    I’m sure James would disagree with that sentiment. I hope that you don’t really believe it either. With that, a very good night to you.

    t

  • 26 April, 2014 at 9:10 am
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    The demise of Rangers and the subsequent gloating from the easy of the city is akin to to laughing at your neighbour’s burning house whilst your roof is about to catch fire.

    Make no mistake; if Rangers go under again, they won’t be coming back a second time. The TV money will not hang about to watch perpetual Celtic league titles – they are only here for what should have been the resurrection of a competitive Rangers.

    Scottish football, not just Rangers, is in the midst of a grave financial crisis.

  • 26 April, 2014 at 11:13 am
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    The report is littered with lies and yet some Bears have welcomed it for it’s “honesty”, i’d probably be staggered if we had’nt seen this many times before.

    He’s blamed everything on previous boards, were the Easdales not board Members 12 months ago?

    Wallace also says that the Board believe one of the main reasons why a company wanted security over Debit/Credit card payments was because of the threatened boycott of season books, yet evidence has appeared showing that The Rangers were warned in January that this would be a major problem, long before Dave King started the campaign to put season book money into ESCRO.

  • 26 April, 2014 at 12:40 pm
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    JUANCERVEZA

    I think you are wrong about the spot being a mirage it’s actually an ELEPHANT or even two ELEPHANTS running at pace towards them.
    James, I think your friend is correct about the use of the other 119 days after all this report was already written for Mr Wallace and could be easily read online via various sites yours included.

    HAIL HAIL

  • 26 April, 2014 at 2:06 pm
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    The thought just occured that Rangers downfall, and refusal to accept the reality thereof, is the same as that of Cate Blanchett in “Blue Jasmine”. Fat Salary for the Oscar?

  • 26 April, 2014 at 5:31 pm
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    COLIN –
    If my neighbours house was burning down i’d be out there with the buckets alongside everybody else.
    However it is not my neighbour – it is the guy in the big house at the top of the road, separated from everyone else, the guy in the neighbourhood who is so above everyone else, who thinks he has the right to be simply the best – regardless of how many times his house burns down (those dry paper side letters were perfect kindling)

  • 26 April, 2014 at 7:40 pm
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    It took 120 days for this guy to tell us everything we already knew, and to cobble together this incredible, fantastical theory that raising some 20 to 30 million in the next three years will see them as Premier League Champions within three years. Anyone with half a brain and a grasp of reality can see that even where Sevco to survive and limp on, they are probably at least – at the very least – about ten to fifteen years behind Celtic financially. I mean, it would take years just to be competitive in the SPL as they’d get regular thumpings from Aberdeen, Motherwell, Dundee Utd and St Johnstone. My point is that this work of fiction (and, as fiction goes, it’s a poor read) destroys any kind of corporate credibility this man and the Sevco Board might have had.
    ‘Sorry, we’ve blown that first 70 million, the stadium is crumbling, the scouting network doesn’t exist, the team is vastly overpaid, our lawyers weren’t really involved on the old contracts, the current squad needs overhauled, redundancies are coming…but give us less than half that much again and we will give you the title and european football. Yes, that’s right, just pay your money up front, right now, if you please…sorry, cash only…

    You couldn’t make this up

  • 26 April, 2014 at 9:36 pm
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    WILLMACUFREE – I shall rephrase – his intro does not detract from the core of his argument – he brings it back at the end and this gives his writing a pleasing structure – quoting and referencing the Marquis de Sade does not in any way undermine his argument – it is, as I said before, irrelevant to the core argument and merely a technical device – unless you would argue otherwise, James?
    And a very good night to you too – I hope we will speak again.

  • 28 April, 2014 at 12:24 pm
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    James….. many thanks, a great piece again, but like Brian C, I’m baffled as to why it’s taken 120 days to produce “what we already knew”.

    It’s a simplistic viewpoint and observation but for me, anyone with an ounce of business accumen looks at ALL the the game’s a bogey tions open at the time and looks at these for easy cost-effective ways of bringing in the money (in this case season ticket payments).

    The report bemoans the fact that they have not secured a broker for the season ticket sales without giving away security on the stadium etc, but for me, (not having read the report bacause I don’t get coffee breaks) it seems they are still looking at ways to spend money to make money.

    I’m not trying to give them an easy-out here with their season ticket payments issue but …….. their website accepts all payment forms (even pay pal), so would it not be a case of simply diverting season ticket sales and payments directly thru their own website (& even thru pay pal) and they would be saving themselves not only money but giving their staff something to do other than twiddle their thumbs up their arses but also saving them from pawning the bricks and mortar whilst all along getting the money in?

    It could be one in the eye for King too ……Pay Pal guarantee secure payments and resolve disputes? 😛

    As I say it is a simplistic observation and probably beyond the management skill-set that already exists their (current financial performance is proof of that statement).

    I appreciate there are other logistics and technological implications and hurdles like actually providing the physical tickets/cards as well as providing security against financial loss of said ticket but surely anyone with a noggin on their shoulders would explore that type of idea rather than moaning about it in a report to fans and shareholders?

    If no one in that place even thought about exploring simplistic solution that is called “Do it Yersel’ ” then what bloody chance do they have of avoiding administration/liquidation part 2.

    And do they deserve to avoid it if that’s the work-ethic? – Spend pounds to get pennies back?

    To me the game’s a bogey and they’re putting off the inevitable by delaying things with a bogus 120 day review.

    Anyway, thinking about it pay pal would be generally unworkable anyway simply because if they are scrapping the stadium wifi, then probably no-one would be able to connect, or if someone complained then the Rangers PayPal account would get locked out until “dispute resolved” and we know how long it takes to get facts out of Ibrox…….

    For me, the shop over here got Irn Bru delivered on Saturday, we won 6-0 yesterday and the sun is out, time to sit back and watch the vultures circle to pick over the remains.

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