At last. At long last. The SFA finally shows some spine, and agrees to stick to its own rules. I never thought they’d have the guts. Blocking Ashley from getting any more Sevco shares is as unexpected as it is welcome, for what it means for our game.
What a dilemma this creates for the owners of Sevco. The AGM decision not to approve a further allocation of shares to outside parties now looks like what it is; a disastrous call by men trying to protect their own positions, and to Hell with how it affects the club.
Could they have found outside investment? Probably not. We’ll never know. But today’s decision was unanimous, and that means no finger pointing at Peter Lawwell will be given credibility. I still expect some people to try, but it’s effectively a non-starter.
All that’s happened here today is that the governing body has followed its own set of regulations, so it seems unusual to be applauding them for it, but I’m going to anyway. They’ve refused to give in to bullying and appeals to emotion. This decision had to put Scottish football first, and for once they’ve done just that.
This isn’t over yet. The name of Dave King could yet resurface, but as he owns no shares at the present time it’s difficult to see how he could achieve anything concrete. He is also yet to put his hand in his own pocket to the tune of 1p, so if their fans are looking for him to suddenly re-appear I think they’ll have a long wait.
And they simply don’t have the time for that.
King’s name will inevitably be mentioned anyway, but for the first time ever I am optimistic that if the day ever comes when he’s doing more than talking that the SFA will refuse to entertain the notion that he should be allowed to sit on their board of directors.
Not only was he on the previous board – which itself disqualifies him – but the ink isn’t even dry yet on his criminal convictions for tax evasion and fraud, with rumours of more trouble coming down the pipe.
He is certainly not a “fit and proper person.”
Who at Ibrox is at the moment? The fans made their distaste for the current board very clear the other day, and already some of them – the more sensible amongst them – are praising the SFA for knocking back the Ashley move … but it doesn’t leave them anywhere else to go.
Ashley is now in an unusual position. The SFA clearly believes he’s already way too powerful at Ibrox, and there are hearings coming up to discipline he and the club for his current level of involvement. They appear to be finally getting tough, but there are moves this guy could yet make, if he’s so inclined.
But is he?
After all, why would he bother? He can now accomplish all of his goals very simply, by laying out the terms on which he is willing to give the club the loans it needs to see it through next year. If the club goes to the wall prior to that he will hold all the cards as the main debtor. On top of the deals he already has in place for the merchandise, he’s in a very sweet position.
The club is almost out of options. The AGM was a disaster and the preening arrogance of David Somers, whilst amusing and entertaining to outsiders, was clearly a watershed moment for many of their fans. He has alienated almost all of them now.
The Easdale’s, despite having done what Dave King is yet to – putting their own money in, taking risks with their own cash – are just as hated, seen by many as relics of the Charles Green era, guys who lack the funds and the ambition to take the club forward.
They don’t feel any more inclination than Somers towards making new friends, as their decision to send their lawyers against one of the fan representatives shows all too clearly.
A lot of the board at Ibrox are sick fed up of their own supporters. Almost all the supporters are now utterly disillusioned with them, and see them as the enemy within.
The word “chaos” doesn’t even come close to describing the scene there. This is a club at war with itself, at exactly the moment it needs to be pulling together.
Years of arrogance and short-sightedness have led up to this.
The club is now in free-fall on and off the pitch, and there’s little prospect of a soft landing.
All the chickens are coming home to roost, from their failure to build relationships with other teams to their horrendous miscalculation that their absence in the top flight would send other sides spinning into crisis. Indeed, the gleeful way in which they talked about this prospect, about “never forgetting”, their deliberate baiting of clubs like Dundee Utd … well, it strips away sympathy fast.
Even their insistence on clinging to the Survival Myth is a weight around their necks, guaranteeing that if they do enter administration the penalty will be a hammer blow 25 points which will obliterate their chances of getting promotion even through a play-off spot.
This is a club reaping a whirlwind of its own making, and it was not simply caused by spivs and sharks but it was the all-too inevitable consequence of their blind refusal to understand that everything changed on 14 February 2012.
As I’ve said before, whether you believe the club survived liquidation (a barmy idea) or not, the Rangers we all grew up with certainly died in the period after Craig Whyte’s St Valentine’s Day massacre.
The hubris that led to that particular downfall – and their failure even to comprehend that Whyte had his hands on the wheel but didn’t crash the car – was the one piece of baggage they simply could not afford to carry over from one incarnation to the next … and it was the first thing they brought with them.
At the second the Five Way Agreement was signed, based on the First Lie, that Sevco was Rangers and Rangers was Sevco, they infused in the DNA of the brand new club the terrible virus responsible for killing the old one. The event that should have taught them humility became a brand new breeding ground for the arrogance instead. How did that happen? It no longer matters. Those decisions set them down the present path, and they are stuck on it.
Today the SFA stopped behaving like the Ibrox club was the only one in the land. It’s an early Christmas present the fans of other clubs probably didn’t expect, and whilst this embrace of the rules is somewhat overdue, it is no less welcome because of how long its taken.
For those in charge at Ibrox now – I was going to say in control, but that term somehow no longer seems applicable to this disaster-in-progress – are now faced with nothing but bad options on all sides.
Dreadful decisions – including the one to let Ally McCoist head off to the garden to sit on his expanding rear end sucking up the better part of three quarters of a million quid – have become conflated with the whims of a support that never learns and a media which doesn’t get it to create the greatest calamity in the history of Scottish football.
And it isn’t over. Not by a long, long way.
This year has been tumultuous.
Why do I get the feeling next year will be even more interesting?
Have a Merry Christmas brothers and sisters.
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