Faith In The Artful Dodger

article-1291111-0A478CB2000005DC-701_468x333So, over the last 24 hours I’ve found an email inbox filling with invective and abuse, and allegations that myself and other Celtic fans are “running scared” of Dave King and what he might bring to Ibrox.

I find the suggestion laughable, and so are the people making it.

See, this is a familiar rap. I heard it before when Whyte took over. Then when the Newco was picked up by Charles Green people like Chris Graham and Keith Jackson were telling us that this “no nonsense Yorkshireman” would rebuild the club.

When he was bounced out the door and Graham Wallace came in we were told this was the moment that transformed Sevco into a powerhouse, because he had previously been at Man City. Likewise when Ashley appeared on the scene, and Sevco fan sites were filled with giddy, delighted fans believing he’d pour millions into the Black Hole of Ibrox.

Through all of it, sites like this one did more to moderate the hysterical expectation of the fans than anyone.

They didn’t listen, of course, even when we were proved right time and again.

They always said it was motivated by hate, but that’s nonsense as they actually deep down know. Had they listened to us in the first place they’d have saved themselves a monumental amount of grief. No-one can say we didn’t try to warn them.

They really are the most ungrateful people in the world, and they complain endlessly, and bitterly, and their proclivity for making unrealistic demands, and the sense of entitlement that goes with them, are the most dangerous elements at play as their club goes forward.

I firmly believe that. They are their own worst enemies, pure and simple.

It numbs the mind when you consider what they’ve allowed to happen at their club, and their lack of understanding about it all only adds to the mess.

Let’s take this assertion of theirs that the club has been looted in the last three years.

It is patently false at least in terms of the numbers they’re talking about – £70 million upwards if you believe some of the more hysterical claims.

I’ll enlighten them on where the money went.

There’s no question that some people left with their pockets bulging, and that some continue to skim off the cream in a way you could say has been ethically questionable … but only if you believe (and in this case I don’t) that the great card player Canada Bill Jones was wrong when he famous said “It’s immoral to let a sucker keep his money.”

The suckers have been lined up round the block these past few years. They even boast about it; “we don’t do walking away.”

Idiocy on a grand scale. No wonder the spivs have hung around so long.

Still, as I said before, that’s not where the cash went although it’s suited a lot of people to say otherwise.

See, when you have annual running costs of £17 million before you pay a single footballer, when you are trying to run the infrastructure of a Champions League team playing in a league of part timers and cutting your season ticket prices to suit, you are humped before you start. It’s as simple as that, and when you add a football budget costing another £12 million on top of that – including the salaries of a management team who remain on the books to this day – you start to lose money like Ian Black in a betting shop.

You know what else has sucked money away? The constant battles in the courtroom. How many cases have they had to settle? How many millions have gone out the door, never to return? How much have they spent on endless fueds with PR companies?

Setting up the share issue which brought in £20 million cost nearly a quarter of that total. Think on that for a moment. Nearly £5 million of that cash was gone, spent, lost to them forever, before it was even banked.

Where did that cash go? Well there were administrative costs and fees, whatever they had to pay out for the feasibility study in the first place … and then there was Cheeky Charlie’s cut, paid out in bonuses for the success of the thing.

A true professional, Green, and he rewarded himself handsomely as a consequence.

I’m serious here by the way. Can you imagine the showmanship it must have taken to approach the money men in the City of London and ask them to invest money in a Scottish football club which was playing in the bottom tier? Jesus, that he accomplished anything at all is a minor miracle, but to have gotten an eight figure sum? He deserved every penny he got from it.

Sadly, very little of what was left was invested in those areas of the club where they were supposed to go, but by then it was too late for that anyway. The cash was swallowed up on running costs and that football budget increased exponentially.

Who got the blame for that? Ally did, but it was only because the fans were clamouring for better players and harbouring ludicrous ambitions of winning a major cup competition. They screamed so loud that Ally knew his job depended on it. He sanctioned ridiculous signings and the gap between earnings and outgoings started to rise like a Who Hates Jim Murphy? opinion poll spike.

That’s when the real trouble started, where the supporters showed up their ignorance in spades, by, on one hand, screaming “where did the money go?” and on the other demanding more “investment” in the club.

Of course, what they were really asking for was that some group of rich men came along and poured their own millions in, without hope of getting anything back … and it does no good to try to tell them that there is a word for that kind of person and it isn’t investor … it’s “mug.”

There are very few mugs out there with tens of millions of pounds.

Even David Murray, let’s not forget, only pursued the dream because someone else was picking up the tab, and a lot of people have forgotten that King didn’t “gift” £20 million to Rangers in the first place … he put it into the club at a time when he thought there was a realistic prospect of getting a return on it. David Murray was nothing if not a good salesman. He encouraged other wealthy individuals to back him at that time, including Joe Lewis of ENIC, who lost more than King did.

It was Fagan from Oliver Twist who sang “you’ve got to pick a pocket or two”, but he only provided the inpsiration. It was the Artful Dodger’s light fingers that did all the slippery stuff. The great thing about Murray and, to a lesser extent, Green were that they could multi-task like mad. They excelled at both, and I have no doubt at all that King is very familiar with only one half of the skillset.

See, there’s no brains behind this operation, no over-arching plan. That should scare Sevco fans to death, but they just don’t see it yet, the holes in this, the complete lack of an underlying structure. Fergus, with whom the media seems determined to compare the joker from South Africa, didn’t arrive in this country with just a suitcase full of bunnets and ten pound notes; he knew what he was going to do before he got on the plane. His “five year plan” was so well concieved he had the stadium blueprints already drawn up and ready to go.

King has talked a lot about more Real Rangers Men being out there, people willing to throw good money after bad out of a love of the jersey; I would be shocked if those people existed, because they’ve done nothing at all up until now, and nor do I buy into his assertion that they were just waiting for the “right people” to be in charge.

Of course they were. Now that the club is in the hands of a mouthy tax cheat they’ll be queuing up to give their cash away.

Things haven’t changed at Ibrox. That’s the solid fact of it. There’s a new board of directors, but I seem to recall us being here before. Paul Murray is now in the chairman’s seat, keeping it warm until King gets clearance from the courts, if he does.

So what? I’m having trouble working out the earth-shattering significance of these things.

This club has had a half dozen different people “running things” since the day Green walked in through the doors, including two Real Rangers Men in the office Murray temporarily holds; Walter Smith and Malcolm Murray. How did they get on again? David Somers was being lauded before he was being pilloried. The less said about Sandy Easdale the better, but I know there were Sevco fans who’s first question was “well what’s his net worth?” and who were busy calculating how much he could “afford to give them.”

Madness, madness on top of madness, piled high like the millions they’re going to need.

The press, of course, is feeding this lunacy, with guys like Jackson supping from the old poisoned chalice, paving the ground for the next embarrasing climb-down when it all goes tits up, as it certainly will.

Everything here hinges on money, of course. The Sevco fans who hollered and wailed for the last board to be ousted are only supporting this one because they believe this lot have a plan and that it will make them what they once were.

When, when, when will they get with reality and accept that those days are done?

King fought a long battle with the South African courts to hold on to his money, and he parted company with a considerable chunk of it only because the alternative was a jail sentence of 80 years. He allowed the club to drift into the hands of Mike Ashley before he bought a single share because this is a guy who will not spend a bean unless he has to.

King has already said that he’ll only put in what other people do, and this is very convenient, as if his colleagues decide not to chip in the kind of money the fans expect he doesn’t have to either. That leaves only the poor supporters themselves and we, in Celtic cyberspace, have long suspected that it would be them who put in the lions share of the dough.

How expensive will it be for them? Well if this club isn’t in the SPL next season there will be a cash shortfall that would give George Soros a nosebleed. In those circumstances there will be a very real need for King and others to dust off their Canada Bill Jones playbook.

If they decide to raise the money through a share issue, what effect will that have on current shareholders? I can see Rangers First being happy; all that effort accumulating a stake, only to have it liquidated to near worthlessness.

Then there’s Iron Mike. Ashley is still there, with his 10%, and he doubtless still has allies.

He only needs 25% of the votes to block any new fund raising moves.

See, this is what the media never talks about and is content to ignore. This battle isn’t even half done yet, and if you’re wondering why Ashley hasn’t blown these people out of the water it’s because he knows this full well. He is betting on these people not putting their hands in their own pockets. He’s counting on them needing to find alternative funding sources.

If the money isn’t coming from a share issue and they’re not going to fund the revolution on their own, who pays for the rebuilding of the squad, and the stadium and everything? A Sevco bond issue? Debentures?

How many times can you sell the fans on Buy A Brick? Are they any left to buy?

Do they re-open the Crossbar Challenge Hotline?

How much money can that bring in?

Not enough. Not nearly enough.

It’s not inconceivable that they might yet end up crawling, on all fours, back to Ashley himself, and after the way they’ve treated him and his guys one can only imagine how much he will make them bleed for every single penny he throws their way.

Sevco fans can kid themselves on all they like that we Celtic supporters are running scared. The truth is, we’re not even slightly concerned about the Return of the King. He and his colleagues are, by now, up to speed on the size of the job and rumours abound that a number of them already deeply regret becoming involved in this shambles, knowing what it will mean for them.

They are dealing with the most unreasonable, unrealistic, unforgiving fans in football.

Hell mend them. This is a perfect marriage of selfishness and ego, and they are going to collide like two drivers playing chicken and who are too stupid, or invested in the win, to actually move the wheel.

For Sevco to even start scaling the mountain, it will cost them many tens of millions of pounds.

If they can even raise it in the first place, and that money is spent wisely, then they might be in a position to challenge Celtic in five years.

If, but, maybe, in the event of …

In truth we know it will be squandered on over-paid players to chase the dream.

As was the case with the Oldco, when they reach a certain level (and it could take longer than they think) they will bet the lot on the dodgiest of income – European football cash – and perennially be one bad result away from disaster. As a result, they will flirt with death on and off all the way through, rolling from crisis to crisis, learning nothing along the way, as they’ve learned nothing thus far.

Sevco fans are engaged in one of the greatest confidence tricks in the history of our sport, and it’s a trick against themselves.

They don’t half believe in some guff.

I never cease to be amused by it because along with the Survival Myth and the Victim Myth they also believe in the Global Brand Myth, the Celtic State Aid Myth and the Sugar Daddy With The King Billy Tattoo one.

Now they’ve added the Celtic Fans Are Worried Myth to the growing collection of fantasies in which they evidently place great store.

Hey, whatever helps you sleep at night, peepil.

Doubtless, reading this, many of them will indulge themselves in an orgy of warped self-love as they bask in that other great article of faith they all hold on to like a comfort blanket, the It’s All About The Rangers Myth … the one which ends in them calling us “obsessed.”

I love that line, because it’s so desperate, so weak, so pitiful. There was a time when they would have unleashed a string of swear words and sectarian insults, and some of them still do, but most now throw that soft ball at you and expect you to flinch from it.

I’ll say again what I have many times; people slow down to look at road accidents too.

The freak show always draws a crowd, and so does the drunk guy who’s passed the point of having any self awareness at all and has pissed and shit himself and is trying to stick a needle in an electric socket to see if it really does give you a shock.

Well, I can definitely guarantee that the shock is on its way.

But they won’t listen to me, right? Cause what do I know anyway?

In the meantime, Fagan is preparing his little crew of Artful Dodgers for some bloody good sport.

Guess who’s pockets they’re going to pick?

I’ll give you a clue; they’re not going to be mine.

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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.

31 thoughts on “Faith In The Artful Dodger

  • 21 March, 2015 at 5:46 am

    OH, to be a fly on the wall when the penny drops/dropped around the boardroom desk.
    “hold on brother, they’ve been spending the money on bills” “and the bills come in every month”

  • 21 March, 2015 at 7:16 am

    Have I missed something? Everyone has their eyes on DK ref a directorship but what about Paul Murray? How is he being allowed to hold a directorship when he was on the board of the liquidated club……

  • 21 March, 2015 at 8:12 am

    Hope what you say is right James and that this lot suffer for many years to come.

  • 21 March, 2015 at 9:32 am

    George Soros James? Big words James? Another excellent article but it will take your average Sevconian a week to Google their way through it.

  • 21 March, 2015 at 9:40 am

    I just wonder in amazement what makes all these people assume we are worried?
    Jackie Mc Namara the latest guffing about Ronnie being worried silly.
    About what?
    We;ve mullered his team 6-1,2-0,4-0 & how many today?
    Yeah we\’re really cacking ourselves Jackie boy.
    I used to like him,not any more.

  • 21 March, 2015 at 9:44 am

    The old sevconians never fail to make us laugh. The statement from one wag who supports the championship strugglers \” open the window and smell the fear, the rainjurz are coming\”
    Oh dear, that smell is the lying kings lower bowel opening as he realises what a 5 star ( the good auld 5stars) cluster f**k he\’s landed in.
    Oh my sides.

  • 21 March, 2015 at 9:48 am

    Mini Murray left more than 12 months before insolvency, so is okay to crash the bus, sorry Freudian slip, captain the good ship dignity!

  • 21 March, 2015 at 10:48 am


    Needless to say, as you are not K.Jackass or any of the other MSM muppets your inbox would be filled with invective and abuse from our chums at the crumble dome whatever the circumstances.

    DK has stitched up the 3Bears; they are now carrying the can as Directors of a sinking ship. The average Sevco fan will not understand the significance of the things at play here…..we’re talking jail time unless bills are met (Glib likes to remind us about fiduciary duties).

    He also stitched up the fans by appointing a lame duck representative. We all laughed loudly when Mr Graham was paraded in the press as a NED but no one with any business sense thought for a moment it was anything other than a temporary sop to the knuckle draggers.

    DK has applied to the Court of Session to be allowed to become a Director of Sevco……I expect that will be dragged out and will almost certainly not come to pass……Glib has got carried away with ideas of ascending the marble staircase and donning blazer and brogues, only to realise the path has cleared and people now have an expectation that he will actually deliver.

    MA is the card player and DK and the 3Bears are now the suckers. It’s immoral to leave them at the top of the marble staircase any longer than it takes to pick their pockets…..I can believe this kind of gullible behaviour from the Gullibears but Park et al are wealthy and celever men……what’s the old saying “pride comes before a fall”

    Dear oh Dear

  • 21 March, 2015 at 11:30 am

    Running scared… , they really are deluded and thick as shit. The next disaster for them is just round the corner but they won’t see it until it’s already happened.
    On the football side of things, I for one have enjoyed this season greatly and that’s with no sevco in our league.
    It has been a rollercoaster of a season, with Ronny coming in and having a bad start but then seeing the change in the team, watching it grow and develop into this modern day team with pace and intensity and technically improving game by game, it has been a joy to watch. Really entertaining football being played the Glasgow Celtic way and the good thing is we are no where near finished in the way we are developing, we are only going to get better and better.
    I can honestly say that I get real excitement in every game we play now no matter who it is we are playing and I haven’t had that for a long time now and its not just down to us but also the emergence of other clubs upping their game and playing a better brand of football to watch. The obvious team is Aberdeen but also Dundee United, Inverness are playing good football and then consider next season hearts and hibs back up in our league, both of whom are playing really good football, then next season is going to be really good with real competition in an exciting league.
    All this talk of Scotland needing a strong sevco is just media talk of their favourite team which we know isn’t true.
    In the 60s, 70s and up until the mid 80s, basically just before David Murray came in and destroyed Scottish football, the football was great in Scotland and during this time old rangers were just part of a strong football league but they didn’t have that much success then apart from a few years here and there. No the success was shared out with obviously ourselves having the best of it but Aberdeen, Dundee United and hearts all were strong and had their moments of success and I feel that next season we are going to be getting back to those days.
    The great thing about Ronny coming in and transforming our team is that the rest of the Scottish game will learn from it and copy it, our game will evolve together with our young talent getting their chance to evolve too.
    It’s not going to happen overnight but in maybe 3 seasons Scotland can emerge as a real force in European football just the same as Belgium have done, and all this with no sevco……

  • 21 March, 2015 at 12:00 pm

    Superb article. As per usual.

  • 21 March, 2015 at 12:24 pm

    Great piece James and also by Ewanbhoy who gives a great summary of all the good (and schadenfreude) that has come out of Rangers’ demise.

    On a personal level I have many friends who support Rangers, decent human beings who have my sympathy, but in the case of the ugly, monstrous, knuckle draggers who trawl in Rangers manky wake, I must admit to having taken great pleasure in watching them suffer and revert to type over the last few years. They, for their behaviour, deserve every bit of pain and suffering possible and I don’t feel guilty for enjoying this pantomime.

  • 21 March, 2015 at 12:31 pm

    And yet most of your stories on this site are about the Rangers. Obsessed. Your hatred for another club is greater than the love of your own. A bit like abuse eh? Look up Rangers stories on Newsnow and half of the posts are from Celtic sites (hence I found this rant of an article). Keep it up you weirdos!

  • 21 March, 2015 at 12:35 pm

    Lol there it is! My favourite Sevco come-back!

    Read the article next time … you’d know better than to try that one on today 🙂

    D-Cap on and go stand in the corner!

  • 21 March, 2015 at 12:52 pm

    Your posts are a painful read. So self-obsessed and soaked in arrogance and delusion. Rangers fans should have listened to you all along? A biased, blogging nobody? Unfortunately Rangers.have been bled a string of chancers but whose fault is that? The media portrayed each suit as a saviour and the natural optimism of humans wanted to believe. Don’t forget that the Sfa rubber-stamped these goons. The Rangers situation is not even isolated when you consider the shady goings on at Portsmouth, Hearts, Notts county… to name but a few. Football seems to attract crooked owners and the fans suffer. Rangers early situation was always going to draw the dodgiest of businessmen because of the mess the place was in. No real investor would plough money in amidst the Hmrc battles and Sfa hammerings. But the situation has altered for the better. Gone are the crooked Easdales and their crooked promotions and pilfering. Rangers fans want to get back to the football and maybe try get a half-decent team on the park. Let them get on with that and ditch the bitterness and obsession. Don’t forget that you only beat a rank Rangers side, haunted by fear and a losing mentaliy, by 2 poor goals to none. Celtic should pay more attention to their own team and not let diddy trophies distract them from the alarming situation where you are stuttering over the line in a sub-par league where you have a strong financial advantage. Scraping 1 nils against Ross County and manipulating referees to scrape past Dundee Utd who saw you taking their two best players. The smugness and back slapping coming out of Parkheaf is sad to wach. Humiliated by Legia Warsaw, pushing for a tainted treble- an embarrassment to the fierce title fights of old. Go write about your team and quit throwing stones from your glass house.

  • 21 March, 2015 at 1:01 pm

    Maybe it is your favourite “Sevco” comeback because it’s true.
    If your passion for your own club was half as much as your hatred for another, then maybe you would truly have a great support.

  • 21 March, 2015 at 1:06 pm

    Steve son this is a Celtic site,run along now,that’s a good boy,watch the next time your in Castle Greyscull,hearing from a good source,it’s crumbling.Oh and that’s not the only thing crumbling!!!

  • 21 March, 2015 at 1:11 pm

    Celtic really remind me of Man City right now. Gerards slip let them sneak a title that they should have romped, and now the failures of Pellegrini are being exposed. Success can obscure flaws but when you’re paying top dollar for that success then where’s the joy? Celtic can’t, and won’t, cut it on the big stage with Ronny Dei-luded and that’s just fact. When the latest crop of ‘talent’ leave for mediocre stints in England, Celtic will be back at square one having to buy, buy, buy to secure the spl and the league. At least Rangers know they’re mince. Celtic are a team going nowhere and it’s sad to witness the fanfare that follows your bought-and-paid-for diddy trophies and another Europa League failure that you had to embarrass your club by sneaking into. Another couple of seasons of stagnation and you’ll be asking ‘is this it?’. Flaunting a moneyed monopoly in a crap league to satisfy your thirst for poor rate silverware.

  • 21 March, 2015 at 1:47 pm

    “Flaunting a moneyed monopoly in a crap league to satisfy your thirst for poor rate silverware.”

    Isn’t that what caused Rangers 1872 to ultimately die?

  • 21 March, 2015 at 2:01 pm

    That comment typifies the Celtic fan mentality. You do realise that “castle greyscull” was actually the home of the good guys? Do a bit of research before repeating the hilarious bile that you spout.

  • 21 March, 2015 at 2:52 pm

    Lazarus, were you or any of your fellow fans complaining when you had the King of “chancers”, Sir David Murray, bleeding your club dry?

    Was it all down to the Media that he took your club into the shitstorm that unfolded? If you are looking for someone to blame there are a queue of culpables and the way most people see it, the fans were many places ahead of the media in that particular queue. Most of you bought into the bread and circuses and asked no questions, no one forced the Rangers fans to cheer Craig Whyte into Ibrox like a triumph of Caesar. No one forced you to laud Charles Green or buy into his lies.

    If you did believe the press and support whoever walked through the doors and up the marble staircase, then more fool you.

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