This should be fun sometimes.
Murder By Numbers is one of my favourite songs. It’s by The Police, for those who’ve grown up thinking what you see on X Factor is representative of real music.
The song is pretty clear on the how the spivs killed Rangers, and how they’re doing the very same thing to Sevco. The steps are intricate, and the first is this: “Once that you’ve decided on a killing, first you make a stone of your heart …”
That’s just good common sense.
If you’re going to rip people off and bleed them dry then you need to be a cold-blooded sucker, otherwise you might wind up having regrets when you are sitting in your chateau afterwards, and no self-respecting dodgy Yorkshire geezer wants that.
So, first you lock off your emotions. Oh, you can feign them, and if you want to be a success you’ll almost certainly have to, but when you talk of Rangersitus you have to make sure that you are actually talking shitus, otherwise you risk developing an emotional bond.
Yes, an emotional bond with the Vanguard Bears.
I know it sounds preposterous … but you don’t want to risk falling in love with beer gutted, tattooed yobs who’s claim to fame is that they can play the lambeg drum whilst pished … so don’t take that chance. Dissociation is the key.
These are not your people, but make them believe they are because then you can worm your way in there. These people are trusting. They are stupid. It’s easy when you try.
Which brings us to the next part … “And if you find that your hands are still willing then you can turn a murder into art …”
Who can deny that what Craig Whyte did was art? All these years Celtic tried to top the club on the park, all these years we dreamed of HMRC padlocking the gates over a multi-million pound fraud, or the discovery that refs were on the take, or the SFA was fixing matches for them.
We prayed for thunder and lightning to lay waste to their stadium. We dreamed of the crash of Murray International and the collapse of the club down into the hole.
And lo, a wee guy from Motherwell brought the whole house down. For a quid.
You tell me that’s not art. I think it’s a modern masterpiece.
But High Art is different. It’s the difference between the short con, which is ducking out of a restaurant without paying the bill, and the long con, which is siphoning off £70 million in a mere three years. That takes doing. That takes … finesse.
“There really isn’t any need for bloodshed. You just do it with a little more finesse. If you can slip a tablet into someone’s coffee, then it avoids an awful lot of mess.”
See? The song sets out the difference. You can drive a wrecking ball through something, and destroy it, or you can bleed it out slowly, or poison it over time. The first creates carnage. Handle the second one right and you can break it into bits, without most people even knowing what’s going on.
It’s like putting a frog in a pan of water which is slowly heating up. You do it right and the poor sod will sit there until you’ve got soup.
That’s finesse. That’s High Art. That’s telling the company lawyer to go out and get himself a Broxy Burger and signing a bunch of “onerous contracts” the second he’s out the door, contracts which leech the money out of the bank one dainty drop at a time. That’s a skilled job, the kind you’d expect from a seasoned pro with Big Yorkshire Hands.
How do we know these people are skilled? Cause they’ve done it before of course …
“Now if you have a taste for this experience, and you’re flushed with your very first success, then you must try a twosome or a threesome … and you’ll find your conscience bothers you much less.”
The truth is, these people are in the business of making a killing for a living.
They’ve done this a dozen times already.
When you have a string of liquidations after your name and you’ve run so many scams you could do it in your sleep, sometimes two or three separate con-jobs at a time, such as flying to London to tell investors one thing, flying to Belfast to tell the lunatic fringe something else, telling the media a whole different pack of lies and telling yet another series of tall tales to the game’s governing bodies … Hell, telling porkies to the ordinary man in the street, tugging his heart strings with one hand whilst the other is feeling for his wallet … that’s child’s play.
You also get to enjoy yourself a little, and the rush must be addictive.
“Because murder is like anything you take to. It’s a habit-forming need for more and more. You can bump off every member of your family … and anybody else you find a bore.”
Alternatively, you can decimate the board of directors as if it’s your own private St Valentine’s Day Massacre and then you can blame the chaos you’ve unleashed on outside parties with a series of well-timed media conferences to a compliant press where you allege that your club is in this god-awful state because of bigotry.
Be careful though, because that compliant press eventually becomes a problem all on its own, especially if you start enjoying the limelight.
“Now you can join the ranks of the illustrious, in history’s great dark hall of fame. All our greatest killers were industrious …. at least the ones that we all know by name.”
See, these guys are used to doing their thing in private, and there were always going to be problems when they were faced with mega media scrutiny, and especially when that scrutiny started to become a buzz in its own right.
That’s when you start getting the former hack on the payroll to write you a “funny” wee script and start making wee Christmas videos of yourself, which end up hilarious in a manner you never intended. Oh how Sevco fans must have laughed. Now it’s just the rest of us who do.
Oh Charlie, what were you thinking? Did no-one ever tell you the most industrious killers are the ones we never know by name? They are the ones who don’t get caught. You ought to have stayed one of those guys in the shadows.
Or maybe you learned something. Maybe that experience taught you to be more careful in the future. Maybe you faked your own departure and are now running the show at arm’s length, hidden behind those PO boxes I talked about in the last piece.
“But you can reach the top of your profession, if you become the leader of the land. For murder is the sport of the elected … and you don’t need to lift a finger of your hand.”
There’s a lesson there too. Being the man at the top means you can get away with whatever you like. Look at Peter Lawwell. When the slow poisoning of Sevco starts to become acute, just think of the fun he could have telling you that this time around there’ll be no special favours, no bending of rules, no chance of a backstage deal. I, personally, would rather see someone like Turnbull Hutton in the Executioners Hood myself, but that’s by the by ….
For the purposes of this particular moment in time, it does not matter at all who sits as the chairman of the board. This slow killing is going on without his involvement at all and the CEO is about as switched on as a soggy circuit board. The leader of the land is a faceless stranger, who’s got his finger on the Off Switch, and can press it any time he likes.
For years I dreamed of a calamitous event wiping this club away. You can tell, by now, that I’ve had a lot of fun with this vastly more satisfying scenario, this Chinese Death of a Thousand Cuts.
“And its Murder by Numbers, 1-2-3 … It’s as easy to learn as your ABC …”
You know what that means, right? If you own the shares you can sell them to one of your mates and teach him all the steps … and he can teach the guy after him … and he can teach the guy after him … and he can teach the guy after him ….
If the club really can’t die you could, theoretically, kill it over and over and over again, for the next 100 years, if that’s what you really wanted to do.
From Murray, to Whyte, to Green, to Easdale and into the future … on it goes.
We might just run out of ice cream and jelly long before it’s done.
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