The song was called Hands Clean.
The album was called Under Rug Swept.
Tonight, all that seems peculiarly apt.
As we get nearer to a denouement in the Sevco situation, it becomes ever clearer that many people have a lot they’d like to sweep under the rug.
Few involved in this continuing saga have clean hands.
When it comes to selective memory, there’s no-one in this land of ours who can compare with those who inhabit the Ibrox universe, whether that’s the fans or the media or those inside the walls. They have elevated doublethink to an art form.
Last week, over on The CelticBlog, I mourned a media culture that thinks a routine training ground bust up merits front page stories and large tracts of the sports section.
Was it a slow news day, I wondered?
No, because there was a lot going on in the wider world and in football.
It was simply a chance to pile pressure on my club, with the added benefit that it stopped questions being asked elsewhere.
No sooner had I posted the article, than a truly extraordinary media conference took place, when Mark Warburton reversed himself completely on the subject of making new signings in January.
He had initially said he wanted five.
Now, just days later, on Friday, he told the media that such a policy would be disrespectful to his team. No-one in the press pack thought to ask what had changed in the intervening time, but to some of us it was pretty obvious.
The media accepted his explanation although it was transparent nonsense. He had made it clear what he believed the team needed, and the press had been breathlessly reporting it for days. He didn’t want squad fillers. He wanted “stars”, players who would walk into the first team and take them to the level required to challenge Celtic.
His statements to that effect had been unambiguous.
Something – or someone – had compelled him to get in front of the hack pack with a “clarification”, and as per usual the Ibrox manager got away with a blatant, and humiliating, climb-down as if it was nothing.
King had “jetted in” to meet with him in the days before.
It seemed pretty clear that he’d told Warburton there was no money, and to get in front of the press and tell them he’d misspoken when he’d talked about making January signings.
Only hours later we got confirmation of all we had suspected, and straight from the Blue Room itself, when someone cynically issued a late night press release out of the club to clear things up for those who were still in denial.
Before I go into that, a confession; part of me wants to express admiration for the way this was handled.
Any political organisation would have been proud of that.
As a former activist I know the value of the Friday night press release. It gets lost in the weekend, drawing no scrutiny or comment. Even huge stories have been largely left alone when “taken out with the trash” between the close of business Friday and mid-Monday.
Just because Sevco has had to cut back on the PR it doesn’t mean they don’t still get good advice.
They knew what they were doing with that one alright.
Yet it amazes me that more hasn’t been made of that statement, because in it lies the confirmation of everything this site and others have been saying for months. Even our intrepid hacks can’t deny that it’s news – and big news.
This is Sevco’s press team admitting that the central problems we identified months ago are now acute, and without realistic solutions.
The statement admits that a new share issue is impossible at the current time.
It admits that this would have been the preferred fund raising option for the club at a time when, it now acknowledges, it needs cash badly.
It admits that this cash will have to come from the current directors, or those who don’t live in South Africa anyway.
And it confirms that there is no money in a transfer kitty for the manager, that any signings will have to be sold to the board, funded by soft loans, and only on a case-by-case basis.
It’s a statement that contradicts all King’s bombast when he took over, and as I said in my second to last piece on this site confirms that they are stuck in the mud and in no better a position than they were in before the Great Revolution.
The club is all over the place; the statement makes that clear, coached as it is in a “don’t worry, be happy” tone.
It also says that a couple of million will get them “comfortably” through the rest of the season; a claim so ridiculous it’s simply begging to be challenged.
Most importantly, the statement makes it clear there’s no real prospect of the directors who loan the club money being paid back anytime soon, and it proposes what is essentially a “debt for equity” style arrangement; the loanees – all current shareholders – will get more shares in exchange for the cash.
This is perfectly valid and they don’t need a share issue to do it. But it essentially dilutes the value and voting power of every other person who owns a piece of the club.
All those supporter organisations and individual fans who’ve “invested” risk seeing the value of what they hold reduced to virtual worthlessness.
All the work the Supporters Trust at Ibrox, all the efforts of Rangers First, it’s all going to be for nothing if this goes through.
Getting it passed requires 75% shareholder approval.
That presents problems on its own.
Ashley and his people certainly won’t vote for it.
Whatever is left of the “institutional investor” organisations will certainly oppose it.
The ordinary fans have no incentive to support it whilst King is yet to put his hands in his own pockets, but the man has the nuclear threat, of course, if he’s willing to use it; that without this influx of money there might well not be a club left to support this time next year.
That might well be the most honest thing he ever says to them.
All of this is news, and what looms over all of it is the unspoken truth that King is trying to raise money just to keep on the lights.
This isn’t investment in their future; this is to assure that the future itself lasts past January.
Sevco is spiralling downward, and it’s not surprising that our intrepid media doesn’t want to focus on that. They’d rather look at Celtic, of course, a club sitting top of the SPL by six points and chasing a domestic treble.
Is everything inside Celtic Park as it should be?
No, of course it’s not and a few good results don’t change that.
I think the manager’s tactical inflexibility will hurt us whenever we venture onto the European stage, and sure as Hell The Strategy will continue to strangle our ability to even aspire to that level.
These things don’t need to be; they aren’t inevitable.
They are the result of choices consciously made, and there are other choices and other options that could have been explored but weren’t.
I still harbour doubts, and they are real and won’t be erased quickly or easily.
I have written about all of those doubts.
Our supporters have debated and discussed – and they continue to debate and discuss – what Celtic is, what it’s doing and what it should be aiming to do better in the future. That’s not unhealthy; quite the opposite.
This is scrutiny. This is how it ought to work.
The Scottish sporting press doesn’t do “scrutiny.” They stir the soup. They do the bidding of PR firms who aren’t our friends.
The media’s “scrutiny” of Celtic would be more palatable to many of us if they gave Sevco occasional harsh examination.
That they so rarely do tells you what the nature of their attention to us is about.
The media leaves Sevco to its own devices, never questioning a thing unless it suits an agenda.
The last board got criticism because the media narrative was structured around getting The Real Rangers Men into office.
That has been achieved, and now these people have no alibis left but those the press is willing to allow, but it’s not the media these people will have to answer to when – not if, but when – the wheels fall off the bandwagon.
The title of this article comes from a movie of course, one in which the pain of a bad breakup leads the two main characters to have their memories of one another erased.
Yet it opens with them meeting on a train, after the fact, and it ends with them falling for one another again.
What’s the moral?
That some things are pre-determined?
If that’s true then we know their future before it starts; another bad breakup.
Regardless, they decide to try anyway, leading me to wonder if the real moral is that people just don’t learn anything.
At Sevco, and in the media that constantly tries to deflect from trouble there, we can see the shadows of what brought Rangers low.
Ibrox is haunted.
It’s haunted because for all the supporters and those on the board claim to have kept the history, they’ve chosen to erase the parts of it that they’d rather not face up to, the lessons of what brought Rangers low and which now threaten to destroy what’s left of the reanimated corpse.
That history stalks Sevco like a horror movie monster.
It’s going to catch up to them.
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