Hammer To Fall?

mushroom-cloud-1The Queen song from which I stole the title of this piece is one I’ve always found curious. The lyrics are definitely old-school Cold War paranoia, seemingly about the imminent dropping of the bomb.

I find the song curious because when you study it, it’s one of those songs where the lyrics aren’t mourning destruction but saying Bring It On.

This is no Dancing With Tears In My Eyes. This is Don’t Fear The Reaper. This is It’s The End of the World As We Know IT, And I Feel Fine.

I released two books last year, Fragments and Believers. For those who’ve not picked them up on Kindle, they’re on there, and they’re reasonably cheap. I mention them partly to see if anyone buys them (haha) and partly because I’m writing a new one just now, about a dreadful event that strikes the City of Glasgow. For weeks now I’ve been lost in this story, and there are echoes of the above songs in the piece. There’s a good scene in the book which is set at Celtic Park (a different version of the scene appears in Fragments, in a piece called A Civilian’s Story, which is a “chapter” from the work I’m currently writing), but a much more ominous thing happens at Ibrox.

Doesn’t it always?

In this book of mine, I’m ending the world as we know it and I’m having a rare old time doing it. At the same time, even as I’m trying to keep up with the horrendous events in the fictional world, the Ukraine is being invaded by Russia and we appear to be on the brink of another collapse of Life As We Know It in Scottish football. Life imitating art? Sort of. It would be more appropriate to say that art is imitating life; watching the cataclysm that has befallen Rangers in the past few years has definitely prepared me well for writing a chaotic story where the disaster is amplified by stupidity and horrendous mistakes. We’ve been watching a variation on the theme.

Last night we had yet another round of crazy rumours, with Alex Thomson of Channel 4 tweeting that the Ibrox club is on the edge of the abyss. This is nothing we didn’t all already know, but recent events have conspired to give this a more … definitive edge. No-one can any longer deny that there’s something nasty going in inside the walls of The Blue Room, and even the Sevco Rangers websites have stopped kidding themselves on that everything will be alright.

They are, now, like the rest of us, sitting waiting for the hammer to fall.

Internet rumours aside, you get the feeling it won’t be long now. Things are gaining a momentum of their own. There’s trouble brewing, like a storm.

I find the newly awakened anger of the Sevco Rangers fans to be fascinating for many reasons, none the least of which is that  it spells big trouble if they keep it up. But not big trouble for the spivs or the assorted hangers on who inhabit the boardroom. No, the big trouble is for the Sevco Rangers fans themselves, for as we’ve said on this site many, many times, it is now too late for taking the kind of action that might have made a difference.

Season ticket boycotts can only end in one thing; the collapse of the club. The fans are going to be presented with a very simple choice, a choice so uncomplicated even the dumbest redneck banjo player in the Broomloan Road Stand will get it first time.

The spivs are running the show. They have the shares. They have the power. There are two ways, and only two, which will see the spivs leave their posts. The first is that someone, someone with deep pockets, comes along and buys their shares. The second is that they liquidate the club and flog the bones to the highest bidder, just like Duff & Phelps.

Since no-one is going to do the first of these things – King admits it freely and his hare-brained schemes have to be seen in that light – there is only room for the second. If Sevco Rangers fans think the spivs will walk away with nothing in the event they decide not to buy season tickets then they’d better think again, and examine the consequences of that.

Sevco Rangers is a sinking ship. Even a full take up of season tickets will not stop that short of some radical surgery inside the walls, starting with trimming the wage bill to the bone. If the club does manage to get through this week without administration, I think the people in charge at Ibrox are certifiably mad. Because if there was ever a time to take the hit, it is now, when they can afford the penalty. They may still win the title. They may yet get promotion. The board will have to eat some dirt, but they can blame King for that.

For all King’s reputation as a great businessman, he’s not a strategist. If the club does enter administration before this season ends the board of directors have a ready made alibi in the man from South Africa. They can point the finger at a “glib and shameless liar” and tell the world that it was his meddling, his destabilisation, that saw everyone owed money by the club calling in the debt. They can say it made fund raising and forward planning impossible. They can say the link between club and fans was severed by his behaviour. And they will be right.

Anyone, at this juncture, who believes Dave King is in this for “the love of Rangers” isn’t paying attention in class. Destroying something, or threatening to, is an odd way of showing the love. He’s sticking a gun against the heads of the people in charge … and he’s doing it knowing full well they have only one recourse open to them to keep the lights on.

They, in turn, have to pull out their own guns … and stick them to the heads of the fans.

Oh this is not a good time to be a Sevco Rangers supporter. Their choices are going to be between the devil and the deep blue sea. The option of staying in the frying pan or leaping into the fire. It is hard to think of a worse spot for them to be in.

Clearly, they’ve lost faith in the present board. But do they really want a man like King pulling the strings? A man who had three chances already to take over this club and walked away from them all? A man who’s apparently unwilling to buy the shares needed, who says the club should never again have one owner, who is clearly not going to bankroll the future?

Oh he talks about a “one off investment” in the playing side, but he’s not putting up the money for it himself. On the back of asking supporters to put their season ticket money in a big pot that he might well end up administering, he’s also going to ask them to buy shares. The money for those will be what funds Ally’s transfer market splurge. There is no chance of institutional investors stepping up to do it, as King knows full well.

So for Sevco Rangers fans it’s “pay now … and then pay later.” Tempting offer, right? And in the meantime, they are meant to close their eyes to the gaping holes in what King is trying to do. As I said above, he is no strategist this guy. You can’t spend a chunk of money on players in a “one off investment” without pushing the wage bill sky-high. Who’s going to carry the debts? How are you going to square it with the SFA and UEFA when you can’t meet Financial Fair Play rules? What happens too if the gamble fails and Celtic win everything in sight anyway? When you’ve mortgaged the club’s future on a whim? Who knows?

No-one in our intrepid media is asking, or seems to want to know.

Nor have they considered the strength and resolve of the opposition, and it’s that I find most intriguing and sends us into Hammer To Fall territory.

If Sevco Rangers does enter administration because fans answer King’s call to withhold season ticket money, who do you reckon is the biggest creditor, and the determiner of Sevco Rangers future, if it actually has one?

Why, the people who hold the shares at the current time. They’ve been carrying the club through the last few months. The loans to keep it afloat came from them. If the club goes to the wall, they’re the guys who will decide what happens to it.

There will be no collapse with all the shares being worthless, for King to pick up. The guys who own those shares right now will decide the terms of any CVA. They will have the right to choose their own administrator. They will have the right to determine who – if anyone – gets to take part in the rescue operation. They will dictate the terms of that rescue, right down to the asking price for the assets, including the club name and that fabled history we hear so much about.

The irony is that the Sevco Rangers fans have done this to themselves, with their blind insistence on the idea the club didn’t die before, that everything, history included, was purchased by Charles Green. How much does a club’s “history” add to the market value in a CVA do you think? More than King is willing to pay?

This is no liquidation and fire-sale here. In an administration the share price is suspended. It doesn’t collapse to zero, and especially not when the current shareholders are also the largest creditors. The spivs are in charge now … and until this saga ends. They hold all the cards.

And one of those cards is that they can blackmail the fans into backing the club or watching it die.  Charles Green is alleged to have told John Brown that he could put Sevco Rangers out of business, and the only surprise there is that Brown was actually surprised. As the real power at Ibrox, Charles Green was in a position to do exactly that if he chose, and even if he is not currently pulling the strings from behind the scenes at this moment in time, whoever is still has one finger poised over the nuclear button … and they can press it anytime they like.

A football club who’s fans are in open revolt, who’ve been through three owners in four years, who’ve been liquidated, resurrected and ended up in administration again … a business like that is more trouble than it’s worth, especially when its survival is predicated on a future where the demands for massive spending will increase exponentially the closer Celtic creep to Ten In A Row. Whoever owns Sevco Rangers lives with that hanging over them every single day, like a killing weight. Who would want to take that particular task on?

As has been said on this site before, the future for Sevco Rangers fans is pain. Nothing more. The present crisis is neatly setting up the next one. Until this club starts to live within its means, and is owned by people more interested in keeping the lights on than feeding the monstrous egos of an out of touch support and an out of control manager, they will flirt with death again and again and again, until they finally collapse once more.

Sanity has not yet settled over Ibrox.

That’s why we’re waiting for the hammer to fall. Again.

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Comments on Hammer To Fall?

  • Jomak

    Not much anyone can add to that…The writings on the wall and has been since the olde rangers died.

    Oh well, more jelly and ice cream for myself and the kids. HH

  • A.T

    Another Excellent read. Thank you.

  • schoosh71

    The weight of those 5 stars are collapsing in on themselves. Can’t be long, before there is nothing left but a black-hole. Good work

  • Casta Diva

    You should send a copy of this to all media outlets in Scotland James,great work.

  • William Murphy

    Great article, not even the most deluded, head in the sand, Sevco person could refute it.

  • gerard reilly

    Cracking piece of writing james, and very good helping of logic applied, and as you pointed out even ra dumb n dumber sevco rifc could bury any more sand oer their heids ? But their newest , new chairperson came oot with the rhetoric blah blah blah cracker “”CRISIS , WOT CRISIS ..?? Abso belter of the party line jive tablets of stone quote : wonder what title the sfa will advise the newco to attatch to the allready crowded list since oldco was liquidated on 29th may 2012 ? Mbe mr super ex-hack the unbiased ex, daily record impartial , jamesie cotter traynor could earn his title of communications captain of the , ssunsinkable and make his virginal statement since he went on the sevco gravy train 2012 ? Well there again mbe noe “” can, t wait to read tubbz, z abe lincoln type gettesburg address to the hordes of new, newco, oldco , newco, sevco etc ??

  • gerard reilly

    How can my comment be a duplicate , when I, m quoting news from the past week , read james p forest blog of yesterday and check my last post on anything was a lot later than today, s news ??

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