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.
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