(A cagey proposition for someone who has a Donate button on the bottom of his website and basically scrapes out a living as a writer!)
There are three reasons why I think this is an important topic for this piece.
First, it’s that annual time of digging deep for football fans – the renewal of season tickets, the buying of jerseys, the booking of trips and, for some, even eyes on distant horizons as clubs prepare for European football.
Second, it’s the transfer window and there’s always a lot of money being squandered during that.
Look down south at England, where Daryl Murphy – a player who barely functioned in a Celtic shirt and who is in his thirties now – might be leaving Ipswich for a reputed £4 million plus.
In the meantime, Raheem Sterling, a guy few had heard of until a couple of years ago, is engineering himself this summer’s big move to Man City, for over £45 million.
Third and finally, I’m moved to write this because of a tweet from Graham Spiers, who has bet one of his colleagues an unknown sum of money that Sevco will win the SPL by 2020.
Five years from now. Just in time to stop Celtic’s ten in a row.
This one amuses me. I’ll get to it in due course.
Football is about money, and it’s about finding more and more ways to get that money out of our pockets and into those of the players and the sponsors and the advertisers.
Getting the cash out of your pockets and into theirs requires a lot of work, but it has to be worth the effort because the game itself is booming like never before, especially south of the border where the insanity of the transfer window grows more unbelievable – and loathsome – every single year.
This year’s will be particularly gruesome, with the aforementioned Sterling setting the general tone for what will be an avalanche of spending as we near the end of it and the closure of the window.
Here, in Scotland, Celtic has just bought Nadir Ciftci for a mere £1.5 million, and unless we’re going to pull something major out of the hat that will be our striker signed for the Champions League.
It almost seems like a sick joke, considering the above.
The club, in the meantime, markets itself as a European giant, surrounding the stadium with images of the great and the good.
Will Ciftci have his image alongside them one day?
I’d say it was doubtful, except that there’s a guy up there called Larsson, who cost us £600,000.
Still, one suspects that all these two players will have in common will be the number 7 shirt, which Celtic has seen fit to award to a player for the first time in years.
Since the King of Kings left the most famous football shirt of them all has been worn by six different players; Zurawski, McDonald, Juninho, Keane, Ljundberg and Miku.
None came close to living up to his legend; indeed the latter two were simply wastes of a jersey and Juninho may be the biggest disappointment of my time as a Celtic fan.
It was Cyndi Lauper who sang “Money Changes Everything”, and with so much of it flowing into the coffers of English clubs it was gratifying to hear Ciftci talk about how he’d turned down a move there to play at Celtic Park.
All in all I’m not deliriously happy about this window, but I’m content.
Content because we have a settled side to which we’ve added some players.
Big Nadir will give us something different up front. He looked very comfortable against Sociedad but time will tell if he’s got what we need, but he’s got a physical presence and he’s not shy about putting it about, and when you look at the money English clubs are spending you can’t help but think less useful players will be costing clubs down there fortunes.
Does having the money necessarily mean you should spend in? In England, apparently yes.
All things considered, you’d rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it.
Across Glasgow, things are hilariously disjointed and lack of cash is at the root of it.
They lost 11 players during the close season and have signed just four.
The chairman, our old friend King, spoke at length about building an SPL quality side, but there are no signs at all that he’s serious about that or even knows where to start.
The excuses have started instead.
Now it’s “oh but we don’t have a scouting system in place” as if anyone who’s ever played Football Manager doesn’t know where to start looking.
Warburton must have watched thousands of footballers in his time in the Championship and during his much heralded world tour of the clubs.
Is he saying John Eustace and Rob Kiernan are the cream of the global game?
Their recent signing, Wes Foderingham, their second choice goalie, was signed from Swindon after a career trawling England’s lower leagues at clubs such as Bromley, Boreham Wood and Histon.
If this is the best their management team can come up with then they need a hell of a lot more than a new scouting system.
Of course, this is all about money and not so much about the scouting.
The purpose of the scouting network, as they see it, is to do what Celtic do – sign players on the cheap who they can later sell on for a huge profit.
There’s just one wee fly in the ointment; what we do costs millions.
The infrastructure itself is expensive and complex and it took us years to build.
They don’t have the money.
They sure as Hell don’t have the years.
Without even an auditor they can’t get a NOMAD.
Without a NOMAD there will be no Stock Market listing, even if other issues can be overcome.
Without a Stock Market listing their hope of raising money via a share issue looks dead in the water, and even if they somehow had all these things the issuing of shares depends on a boardroom vote they might not even win.
It is chaotic. It is shambolic.
And yet a lot of their fans have bought into it all.
There’s nothing more amazing to me than the continuing dumbness of the Sevco supporters.
King and his board have been in place now for four months – the EGM was in March – and they have yet to keep a single promise to the supporters. This website had major fun with Graham Wallace and the 120 Day Review, but at least he produced something, some kind of wishy-washy list of objectives and a proper timetable.
It was laughable how little there was to it … but where is King’s version?
They’ve had three major “acts” thus far; to secure a new nominated advisor after the one they’d threatened to sack resigned in the wake of their victory.
They’ve failed. The media’s given them a free pass on it. Fair enough.
Then they had to replace Kenny McDowell with Stuart McCall (which worked out well, eah?).
Finally they had to appoint a new manager, and they went out and brought in a 52 year old from Brentford, with a whole 18 months experience and who’s never worked under the kind of scrutiny he’s about to be subjected to … not to mention the loving embrace of the fans, who aren’t exactly known for tolerance, patience or even rationality at times.
This won’t end well.
The players he’s buying in don’t seem good enough to take the team forward and the idea of relying on kids … well watch as that one is tested to destruction pretty rapidly. A team full of young players, with all the immense expectation and pressure that will swirl around that club like a tornado … careers have been ruined on less.
Which brings me nicely to Graham Spiers, who is watching this unfolding shambles like the rest of us, but still thinks the tailspin Sevco is in can be reversed, and that they will be at the top of Scottish football in five years.
He has bet a colleague to that effect.
From where I’m sitting he’s just kissed off some readies.
He has no basis for his belief at all, except the club that plays out of Ibrox wears the name Rangers.
How can an otherwise intelligent man be so daft?
I know too what his rationale is.
That sooner or later someone has to turn the club around, because they are “too big” to forever languish like this.
Tell that to Leeds fans, who probably thought the same.
Money makes the world go round, and Sevco has none of it.
You might be able to part fans from their cold hard cash by promising moonbeams, and you might even get some Scottish hacks to part company with theirs, as Spiers will certainly have to do … but trying to get hard-nosed businessmen to do it is a different ballgame entirely.
No-one ever became rich by being a fool.
Indeed, many of them got rich on the back of that old adage that there’s “one born every minute.”
To run losses on the order that would be required to make Sevco champions in five years would mean some Abramovich type holding onto chits in the tens of millions.
Spiers and others still believe they are out there; the Real Rangers Men with oodles of cash, just dying to chase the dream.
Those people do not exist.
If they did they’d be here already, they’d never have allowed the club to fall into such ruination and shame.
King claims they were waiting on the right board of directors
Well, Hell, it’s been four months now, of his lot, and there’s no sign of them yet.
If Sevco fans are waiting on these people they will wait a long time.
Because if these people do exist they’ve sat on their hands for years.
They watched the club they loved die and saw its reanimated corpse broken like a Walking Dead extra.
What, exactly, was the moment at which they were going to step in and save the day?
Graham Spiers knows all this.
He knows this talk of Real Rangers Men with bags full of money is a demented Louden Tavern Friday Night Fantasy.
Yet he’s clearly unable to get past the idea that the club in question is skint and going nowhere.
I have one question for him, and I do ask it with all respect since he’s willing to do what King so far hasn’t and put his money where his mouth is;
Where’s the cash to rebuild them coming from, Graham?
This is the question every journalist should be asking, and which none are.
Where’s the money coming from?
If we accept that the King consortium isn’t going to fund this out of their own pockets – and they’ve said as much; the South African is on the record as saying he will put in money which matches outside investment pound for pound, which has netted the sum total of nil and doesn’t look like resulting in an influx of big bucks any time soon – then where?
If we accept that the Real Rangers Men with billions in the banks aren’t there … then where?
You’re talking about expanding every single facet of the club, increasing running costs three or four times.
King even talked about quadrupling the wage budget not long ago before he realised that talking in abstract numbers is one thing but someone has to write the cheques in real life.
Getting people to invest in Scottish football is a non-starting event, so you can forget the City of London coming in this time to snap up shares, especially when they look at the shambolic state of the club and its history of fan revolts, boycotts, boardroom strife and the media savaging of anyone who doesn’t know all the words of The Sash My Father Wore.
If I were a money man, who wanted to put cash into football and live the dream … Hell, there’s a country just south of me where you can find many a team on its arse.
I’d buy one of them.
Sink my fortune into reaching the EPL, and then going for the tens of millions which are available there.
Why in God’s name would I choose Ibrox?
Where’s my profit coming from?
Where’s the money in it?
No less a Real Rangers Man than Walter Smith said “The Rangers Way” is always to be in debt.
Think it through.
Champions League income, even if you got there, is worth an additional £20 million per season at most.
But to get there you’d need to be spending five times what you are now, easily, and they are making a loss even on their modest outgoings at present.
Do the maths. This is not complicated stuff.
So, profit aside, what’s the purpose of this “investment”?
Stroking my ego?
There are easier ways to feed the beast.
Cause what’s the End Game?
A statue outside, that pigeons can crap on and drunks can piss up the side of?
A stand named after me?
Why would I want that, when I can donate my wedge to a hospital instead, saving people’s lives, and one day, in the distant future, have my grandchildren proudly stand outside the James Forrest Wing?
There are better ways of leaving a monument behind you than being the guy who “saved” Sevco for The Peepil.
So come on, sell it to me, Graham.
Tell it to me like you picture it in your own head, because you clearly do believe there’s a turnaround coming, and that hard cash is going to flow in their direction sometime soon.
So tell me how they’ll do it.
Sell it to me.
Imagine I’ve got the readies and that I’m not a Celtic fan who’s enjoying this whole thing.
Sell me on the idea.
Without a chance of turning a profit, what’s the “unique selling point”?
The annual Poppy Day “celebrations?”
Or maybe the Linfield friendly, marching bands and all?
Jesus wept … I mean really?
Sevco, for all it thinks in global terms, is a provincial West of Scotland football club with a small following in the North of Ireland because of their “cultural” embrace of all that ‘flegger’ crap.
They have already spent three years in the lower leagues, and this will be number four.
So even if you’re talking about “the brand”, and even if that brand were not tainted and stained with sectarianism and supremacy and backward ideas … they’ve spent an awful lot of time out of the light, a lot of time without their “brand” being seen by a global audience, a lot of time on the side-lines watching the big boys.
All this is to say that there is next to no chance of “institutional investment” this time around.
Charles Green managed it, or so it seemed, but we now know that he raised the money selling the bulk of his shares to his mates and all manner of dodgy individuals who used their voting influence and their appointed representatives to make some rather sweet deals and siphon off as much of the cash as they could reasonably get away with.
There is no pot of gold at the end of this rainbow.
Indeed, the rainbow itself is a 3D art job on the side of a brick wall.
This club isn’t going to “recover” in the way Graham Spiers and others use the word in ten years, far less five.
What will happen – eventually – is that the reality of their position will sink in and the club will undergo a dramatic realignment in structure and expectations, engaging, at last, with the truth.
They will stop kidding themselves that what was Rangers still exists or can ever exist again.
That name, on its own, will not make them challengers far less champions.
But the name is all they have left.
That’s nowhere near enough, and the day they accept that is the day all this stops hurting.
Then, and only then, can the real healing begin.
In the meantime, those running the cash registers at Ibrox are marketing “the name” for all they are worth.
And a lot of people who should know better are still buying into it.
There’s one born every minute right enough …
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