A Package Of Bollocks

01-no-bullshitI’m on a bit of a politics trip at the moment, and I was watching one of my favourite movies the other day to keep me in the mood. It’s The Candidate, starring Robert Redford. In the film, he plays Bill McKay, the son of a former state Governor.

He’s an idealist, and dislikes the fancy language and the lies that surround the political hacks.

Peter Boyle plays a guy called Marvin Lucas, a political consultant who has to find a candidate to run against the popular (and unbeatable) Republican governor. Because this is a fool’s errand there’s no-one willing to throw their name into the hat for it. In desperation, he turns to McKay and he tells him that since there is no chance to win he basically can’t lose.

He tells McKay to go out there, be himself, tell the truth in plain simple language and start a debate.

McKay does so, and at first he gets nowhere. When he starts to broaden his message he begins to get traction in the polls. Without wanting to spoil the story (I am happy to spoil the ending, cause the ending is not the story), he does so well that come election day he’s won the damned thing. Except, he’s not a politician, and never wanted to be one. He’s raised expectations sky high with his straight talking, and he’s made promises he can’t keep.

Just after the result has been declared, he grabs hold of Lucas, and he pulls him aside, and the movie closes with him asking his baffled, shell-shocked, equally clueless campaign manager “Marvin … what do we do now?”

I have long suspected that Dave King would run a country mile if he found himself sitting on top of the Ibrox volcano. I’ve long imagined him turning to his advisors, and realising that already there’s a hand in his pocket, and saying “What the Hell do we do now?”

King has become the new Charles Green. A guy who likes to see himself on the telly, read his name in the papers, hear his own voice on the radio. Today, he’s broadcasting from South Africa again, after retreating there following his slapping down in the Sevco Rangers boardroom.

You’d think he’d keep his head down after that, but not this guy. He’s got a taste for this now. He loves it. With no more Media House arrayed against him, he’s also got the spotlight to himself, and so he’s standing up there doing his impersonation of Billy McKay.

As a result, today’s newspapers are filled with Dave King’s own version of moonbeams.

His pledges to spend up to £50 million appear to be the “meat on the bones” Sevco Rangers fans were looking for.

But only if you’ve never eaten meat. Or ever seen bones. Or if you haven’t watched a political campaign in your life. And it helps if you can switch off the interrogative part of your brain, the part with the critical faculties.

There are times when the Scottish press makes you weary. The lauding of King has been going on for months. Today, Graham Speirs wrote an article that seemed to be telling the Sevco Rangers fans to be wary, but was instead a list of reasons why King has it right. Essentially the whole article boils down to “King has money, Sevco Rangers need money, Ergo King is good for Sevco Rangers.” Hidden in there was the usual throwaway reference to King’s criminality in South Africa, put there just for “balance” it seems, instead of it being the centrepiece of the story.

When does the Scottish press start to recall how King made his money in the first place? Where do they start to join the dots? He’s already been investigated for, and pled guilty to, tax evasion. But the legal battle to get there took years, and he only did it when he was offered a plea bargain that would see the government drop over 400 separate, and far more serious, charges against him.

These minor details seem to have slipped by our journalistic class. Amongst the many charges were allegations that he artificially bolstered a company’s share price and then crashed it; money laundering; attempting to bribe public officials; fraud; forgery … the list could go on and on and on.

This was a guy who, in the first place, went to a country the entire world was lined up against in international sanctions, and made tens of millions on the back of an apartheid regime. Where’s the investigative digging into how that was done?

A lot of people were getting rich over there at the time, but very few of them were doing it in what we might regard as a “socially responsible” or ethical way, and from what we do know about King, do we believe he was one of the exceptions to the general rule?

Let me be blunt. I don’t believe a word that comes out of this guy’s mouth. He’s posturing because he can. Because, like Redford’s character in the movie, he has no chance of winning. His plans depend on the current board of directors, and all those institutional investors in London, giving up their own money, and the value of their own shares. King could simply buy them out, and that would put this thing properly on rails, but he won’t.

When Gavin McCann filed his piece about Fergus recently, a lot of the comments pulled him up over his claim that if he won the Euromillions he’d hand a chunk of it to Celtic for players. People called that a ludicrous comment, because it’s based on something he’ll never actually have to do, and therefore it’s the easiest thing in the world to say.

The media could take that line with King. They could even ask whether a man such as this should be allowed near a Scottish football club in the first place. When Leeds United’s latest suitor is being refused by the English FA then you know the ball is truly up on the slates and some of the corners of the game on these islands are trying to restore some measure of sanity.

King is a born, blatant, liar. Who says so? A South African judge, and numerous court papers bear this out. He paid an enormous fine which is the only reason he didn’t end up in prison overalls, and it would not have been a short stay. The South African government were offering him 40 years.

Today’s reports must be galling for the small investors this guy ripped off in his scams over there, and for the tax authorities who chased him for years and wanted him to spend some serious time breaking rocks in a prison yard. You best understand that King’s behaviour in South Africa, however much the Scottish press might want to ignore it, was not a “victimless crime” any more than OldCo Rangers liquidation was. He destroyed people’s lives. His withholding of tax revenues had a negative impact on the financial health of his country.

His “interviews” were smug, and patronising, and filled with contradictions. To one journalist he reportedly said he was pleased to know that the money to save the club would not come from him, but in front of a different audience he said the exact opposite, that he would bankroll all this himself. He appears not to have any difficulty in changing his story depending on which audience he’s sitting in front of, and this isn’t the mark of an honest, open man you can trust.

Yet some still do. Read this guff from Richard Wilson; “For a man so careful not to make a pledge that he cannot deliver on, the commitment to around £30m to £50m of investment and of taking on the task of restoring the club, seems like a significant moment. It is a fine line between that commitment and hubris, though.”

I agree with the last part. It’s a fine line between commitment and hubris. Except, here hubris is really all there is. I’ve read his statements carefully, very carefully, before writing this, and I actually don’t see any “commitment”. He’s given us some impression of what he thinks the job will take – I believe I used similar figures myself some weeks ago, in an article – but aside from some vaguely stated intent that, if push came to shove, he might be prepared to invest as much as £30 million of it, I don’t read anything that sounds to me like a “commitment.”

All of this depends on the Sevco Rangers board rolling over … and they aren’t going to do it. Why should they? Why should the people who own shares right now agree to dilute the value of those shares to zero so that a guy with a “business plan” to massively increase debt for the purpose of winning more football matches can come in and make himself the lord of all creation.

He is talking about tripling the second largest football wage bill in the country inside a year, and then increasing it further “depending on what Dermott Desmond does.” And we – and the current investors – are supposed to take this … seriously?

All of this is … sheer fantasy. It is contemptible nonsense, from a deplorable human being.

King’s most interesting interview is the quite ridiculous one he did with Keith Jackson. It is so full of holes a decent journalist would have blown him away in five seconds. Jackson, of course, is no such thing, and so he allowed King to get away with nonsense such as this.

“If the board had said … ‘We’re cutting wages by 35 per cent,’ which is what I heard their previous plan was, then I would have had a fight on my hands … But they said: ‘Dave it’s not true!’ And that was sufficient. But if the business review involves a reduction in wages then they are breaching their responsibilities, morally and legally. It would be an immense breach.”

Now, perhaps Jackson is completely clueless about the law, but business reviews recommend reductions in the wage bill every single day of the week. It is perfectly legal, as King should know well, and it’s perfectly “moral” too, at least in a business sense. Because it actually is the moral and legal responsibility of a board of directors to run their business in a profitable way!

It’s the same with this constant referencing of the board being in breach of the law if they don’t come up with a “strategy for catching Celtic.” It’s nonsense to suggest they are under such obligation.

It is not the job of the Sevco Rangers board to come up with a business plan to catch Celtic. Hard as that is for some people to face, we can be quite clear on this; there is no “Stop Celtic from doing 10 in a row” clause in business law to which they have to adhere.

Their job, like that of any board, is to come up with a business plan that keeps the business running at a sustainable level, and which eventually provides a return to investors. Their job is exactly the opposite of what Dave King is suggesting.

At a time when the club is haemorrhaging money he wants to spend more … as I said above, three times more on wages alone … yet he talks about this as a “business decision.” No business runs its affairs in such a manner.

But Sevco Rangers, like Rangers before it, isn’t really a business at all. It’s an enormous institution built on ego and self-righteousness. For thirty years the club lived on the steroids of other people’s money, never having to live within its own means. There is no sign that common sense and sanity are about to dawn. King’s plans take no account of reality.

I don’t believe he wants to fund the next big spending spree at Ibrox. I know for sure that he’ll never actually do it. There is no “risk to Celtic” here, as there was no risk from Charles Green’s “500 million fans will make us rich” nonsense, and there was no concern at Ally’s £50 million transfer war-chest from Craig Whyte, as there was no concern when David Murray was going to spend £200 million laying the floating pitch and the retractable roof and opening a casino next door.

All of this is fluff, and fantasy.

King’s retreat across the water last week, when his tanks were parked on the Ibrox lawn, blew him out as a contender. Today he’s returned with bluff and bluster, throwing around “hard numbers” which are as soft as the stuff he’s been shovelling the media, because he knows he’ll purely and simply never need to spend them under his current “plan”.

I opened this piece by saying I was on a bit of a political kick at the moment, and I am,

I have just started a new blog, this one on political issues. So as I started, I’ll finish.

Back in the days of New Labour, Gordon Brown’s press officer was a cheeky little chap called Charlie Whelan. He had a rather unique way of talking to journalists, and he made the mistake of appearing to decode his messages to one, over a few drinks one evening.

“Bollocks,” meant something was true. “Total bollocks” mean something was broadly true. “Speculation” meant the guy could go out and write it. Whether Whelan was half-joking, not joking at all or completely having the journalist on, he would later come to regret it when a story landed on his desk that he wanted to shoot down completely.

He called together the journalists who were his close allies and he described the story as “a package of bollocks.” This denial was a true denial, but they thought they understood his code and they wrote up the story as if he’d confirmed it.

It caused a mini-meltdown in the government and it led, eventually, to him being shown the door.

I am not speaking in code when I describe what’s in today’s papers in the same colourful language. It was not direct, challenging, “explosive” or even remotely plausible.

It was, and it is, a package of bollocks.

You can work out, I’m sure, what I think that makes Dave King.

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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.

14 thoughts on “A Package Of Bollocks

  • 25 March, 2014 at 4:35 pm
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    “The Rangers” fans are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Trust in King for no good reason other than that he is supposed to have lost £20m of his own hard earned (sic) helping out a business run by another man, or trust in the current incumbents of dignity towers for no oher reason than they are the current incumbents.

    From what i’ve been told King lost about £2m of his investment, £18m having been paid back to him, no doubt by some totally above board and not at all dodgy mechanism not involving the Taxman. That he is happy to allow this myth to be perpetrated speaks volumes.

    If I were a The Rangers fan, I would sooner trust people I don’t know – like the current board – than someone whose financial dealings have already been exposed and are in the public domain, like King. He’s a chancer, in the mould of Green and Whyte and Murray, whit a parcel o’ rougues.

  • 25 March, 2014 at 7:12 pm
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    Who is in control of this supposed to be sport, surely the clubs that are supposed to be the controllers are the ones to sort it. Move your arses.

  • 25 March, 2014 at 7:19 pm
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    Can’t do this, sorry

  • 25 March, 2014 at 8:37 pm
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    James
    So wise for one so young 🙂
    Another great piece deconstructing the absolute garbage spouted by the “glib and shameless” one.

    My favourite part was in today’s Daily Mail where he intimated that he was SKIING…..spending his kids’ inheritance,with his kids’ blessing,to rescue the pretendygers.There’s nothing like cackling with laughter over your morning Weetabix at the ongoing pantomime that is Sevco.

  • 25 March, 2014 at 8:48 pm
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    King has stated that he expects the chairman’s seat and significant representation on the board in return for “his” investment. Is this even legally possible given his previous position on the old board?.

  • 25 March, 2014 at 8:50 pm
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    A good question John. And the answer SHOULD be no … but hey! You never can tell with this mob.

  • 25 March, 2014 at 11:47 pm
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    Is this not where the whole fiasco began because ‘Lord ‘ Murray could not accept that Celtic had won the European Cup and ‘THEY’ hadn’t. I have always thought that this pantomime would stand or fall on what the S.F.A. would or wouldn’t do.e.g. What about their audited accounts? What about the ‘fit and proper’ requirement for directors ? Their silence on these matters is deafening. I think they have joined the Trappist monks!

  • 27 March, 2014 at 2:03 pm
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    That is the definitive piece on Dave King. Not one word of it will ever need to be revised.
    You’ve nailed him right between the eyes with both barrels, James.

  • 28 March, 2014 at 7:46 am
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    The White Charger Horse Salesman must be doing well these days down Govan way.

    Or does Craig Whyte own the deeds to the horse?

    They are hanging on to every snippet and soundbite from a potential saviour.

    By the way…where’s Jim McColl nowadays?

  • 28 March, 2014 at 12:00 pm
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    James, outstanding piece.

    I have just came across your blog,and it’s excellent.
    The Lying King is full of bullshit, as you expertly outlined.
    The MSM are sycophants,to which ever team plays out of their beloved ibrokes.To spin feel good stories
    for the Zombies is their mission in life.
    These hacks are in a dying industry.They can’t compete with internet bloggers, in terms of intellect and integrity.

    The succulent lamb is long gone.Soon these inept
    hacks will go the same way.

  • 2 April, 2014 at 3:40 pm
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    The usual hypocrisy from you lot yet again and more faux moral indignation about a man involved in a tax dispute.

    Neil lennon used a tax avoidance scheme to dodge £500,000 in tax I await the cries of think of the Schools and Hospitals losing out due to a scheme HMRC said was Fraud in a court of law.

    For Dermot Desmond see the Glackin report , Flood Tribunal , Moriarty Tribunal and Celtic mist cases. Maybe someone could answer how exactly this guy passed the SFA fit and proper person test with that lot behind him?

    As for the rest of the blog it’s just an excuse for James “i’m pure no obsessed by Rangers” Forest to write another blog about Rangers. (like he needs one)

    Oh and can someone please tell me who Sevco Rangers are? been looking for them in the official league tables but can’t find them (strange)

    Well if you’ll excuse me now i’m off to prepare for a Cup final and big semi as well so I will leave you lot to contemplate your team not playing a real competitive fixture till August now and all the excitement of playing meaningless games till mid May will bring.

    Still look on the bright side you lot are on 45 titles now compared to Rangers 54 +2 and that’s not even counting the 9 Rangers won during the war years.

    Poor timmy always in our shadow.

  • 2 April, 2014 at 3:43 pm
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    Do me a favour, and PLEASE post earlier next time, so I am not the only person laughing like Hell at your post.

    You are hilarious. Keep coming back!

  • 7 April, 2014 at 4:49 pm
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    Great – no sorry…. GREAT piece James, excellent piece of journalism and bringing the full story to us ex-pats as we only get the mainstream media side of events and as you say Sevco bias heavily weighs on that.

    Your (and the other) articles are worthy of being the de-facto Wikipedia page for the Administration and liquidation of The Rangers Football Club Plc

    Straight to the point from me now:

    When’s the next “instalment”,
    What’s the situ re HMRC case & appeal & when (I find nothing on the ‘net about it).
    How long is it gonnae take the follow follow brigade tae rumble whits gaun on at the bear pit (Ibrox).
    Maybe after being gubbed by Raith Rovers the someone there will “rumble” McCoist now too. (totally agree on your 2-faces piece too).

    Keep up the good work and keep the world informed.

    Sadly only at Celtic park a couple of times a year now-a-days but there in heart.

    Hail Hail

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