Confucius said “Study the past if you would divine the future.” Marcus Aurelius said “Look back over the past, with its changing empires that rose and fell, and you can foresee the future too.” I like those quotes.
Bruce Springsteen had a slightly different notion. “We’re living in the future and none of this has happened yet,” he said in one of his songs. I like that take on it too because you actually can see the future in the present, in little glimpses.
Dave King should take careful note. Before his feet have even gotten under the Ibrox boardroom table (if they ever do), there are people busily emptying his pockets and spending his money. The media is making wild assumptions, with no shame whatsoever, and Ally McCoist is making demands for the cash to build a Champions League side.
If Dave King ends up at Rangers again, and if he wants to predict the future, he ought to look at the past, and listen to people like Walter Smith, when he says that fiscal common sense and Rangers don’t go together.
He wants to listen to people like Hugh Keevins, who says, without having a shred of knowledge about the matter, that King is ready to step up and be the club’s sugar daddy, as though what this spoilt child of a football club needs is more sugar. What they need is some responsible parenting, some tough love, and if you believe the media what they’re going to get, instead, is an over-indulger who will feed the ego until tantrums and shrieking become so loud there’s simply no choice but to keep it going.
David Murray made that mistake, and he would probably have kept on pouring money down that bottomless pit of Want until he was bankrupt. Lloyds finally put a man on the board and told him to stop doing it with their money.
The best thing that ever happened to Rangers was the intervention of the bank. Chick Young believes it was the bank who killed Rangers.
Chick Young, the professed St Mirren fan, is sometimes so susceptible to the spin out of Ibrox that I wonder if they’re not slipping something in his tea whenever he goes there, something that keeps him pointedly on message. His bizarre assertion that the bank destroyed Rangers, or helped others do it, is arrant nonsense, and ridiculous coming from someone who is presumably educated.
Rangers was like an out of control addict, heading for the graveyard. All the bank did was stage an intervention. Had the club adapted, and learned to stand on its own two feet, they’d never have ended up there.
Even when Lloyds put a man on the Rangers board, the club itself bucked at every turn. People inside, and outside, Ibrox have made it abundantly clear that the bank had radical surgery in mind for Rangers, and that their trouble-shooter, Donald Muir, presented the club with a proposal as gory as a butchers slab, which the boardroom heavies – Dave King and Paul Murray included – refused even to entertain.
It would have brought spending under control, would have restored sanity to the process, would, in fact, have put the club in a position where they may even have been able to survive the Big Tax Case verdict, if that had gone against them.
They refused to, because, as Walter Smith has pointed out, the club that doesn’t do walking away doesn’t do fiscal common sense either.
I’ll be honest; if Dave King is allowed to assume a seat on the Rangers PLC board it will be a joke, and a travesty, and make a mockery of the rules of our game. It’s bad enough that the club already has one convicted criminal on the board. Easdale, at least, can say he’s done his time, and paid some of his debt to society. He can say that particular crime was in the past, and as there’s no conviction in recent times that probably stands up. King is different. To allow King, a guy who’s charges are so fresh the ink’s probably still drying on his court papers, to assume a major position at Rangers will hold that club, and the football authorities, up to ridicule.
Some Rangers fans think the people who say this are motivated by hate, or by jealousy. The first reveals more about them than it will ever say about us. The second is, frankly, laughable. The ignorance it reveals is striking, and worrying, and symptomatic of a myopia which it’s frankly hard to credit. How can they be so blind? Is it genetic?
Let’s study the past and see if it gives us any guidance about what the future will look like. And let’s do something the Scottish press has been unable – or unwilling – to do so far; to look at the bigger picture, to look beyond these shores, and to work out whether what the media and certain sections of the Rangers support think is going to happen is even practicable.
First, is Dave King likely to play the role the media, and sections of the Rangers support, seem ready to assign him? I mean, it’s all well and good making these assumptions without asking the man himself, but what if they did ask him? What would Dave King’s reply be to those who’re expecting him to “turn the taps on again”?
Dave King has already put £20 million into Rangers. He did so at a time when David Murray was running things, and people never tire of reminding us about it. But Dave King didn’t gift that money to the club out of love. He saw it as an investment.
He thought it would be good forever, that his £20 million would still be worth something as long as he was alive. The media rarely, if ever, reminds us that he’s talked about suing David Murray to get the money back. He believes he was misled, that false promises were made to get that money out of him.
This guy isn’t going to part with cash just for the fun of it. This guy is not going to spend millions just so the Laptop Loyal and the rest of the Rangers fans can bask in the “glory” of living high off someone else’s money. This is a businessman, and one who engaged in a decades long battle with the tax authorities in his own country to keep as much of his money as was humanly possible. He may see himself cast in the role of the Saviour of Rangers, but that’s good for a few days headlines.
Sooner or later, he’s going to have to tell the unpalatable truth to a bunch of people who aren’t cut out for hearing unpalatable truths.
The unpalatable truth is this; neither King nor McColl wants to play Santa Claus to the Ibrox hordes with their own personal wealth. Our media knows this full well, even if they won’t say it. No-one makes a fortune by being reckless or stupid, and you’d need to be both to throw your own money at today’s over-inflated transfer market and the salaries of over-valued players just to chase dreams of going somewhere in the Champions League.
Furthermore, no-one of any intelligence at all would give that kind of money to Ally McCoist and trust him to spend it well. There is barely a person in this country who believes he’s the type of manager you’d trust with a fortune. Those who want to point at his results so far in Scotland’s third tier are barking.
An amateur football coach could win those games with the squad he has. It’s like taking on a local gang of neds with nuclear artillery. It’s overkill, and it’s both laughable, and contemptible, that he realises he needs this to get the job done.
The Daily Record is getting a lashing tonight for making up stuff again, this time about the Stock Exchange being ready to give King the green light. I’ll be honest; in the fullness of time, King may well end up sitting in the Ibrox boardroom, perhaps as chairman, but that doesn’t change the hard facts for Rangers fans. It is unlikely bordering on inconceivable that this guy will use his own cash to finance a wave of multi-million pound signings.
McCoist knows he’ll not catch Celtic with the present squad. He believes the spending of money will allow him to compete, utterly ignorant of the fact he blew a solid lead in the club’s last season of existence, with a squad worth more than any he’s likely to be able to assemble here. In the best case scenario for him, where he’s actually given the cash he wants, I don’t fancy him to last six months once the bad results start.
No Ibrox boardroom minus his mates – and he has few friends there at the moment – is going to tolerate his brand of failure.
Of course, none of that is going to happen. Because there are so many impediments to NewCo Rangers spending their way back to the top that it’s barely worth bothering with the Scottish media’s recurrent fantasy about it.
King shouldn’t make it past the fit and proper person tests at either the Stock Exchange or the SFA. But say he does. What next? He’ll need to buy enough shares to give him the power to do what he wants to do.
I am betting against him getting them, or being willing to part with the money they’ll cost, which amounts to the same thing when the chips are down.
Yet how much gives him control? If he goes over 30% he’s obliged to make an offer to buy out the other shareholders. Will he take the risk that they’ll not bite his hand off? I think not, because many of them will do just that, seeing a degrading share price and a company going nowhere. Aside from the tens of millions he’d already have paid, there’s the danger of having to pay a Hell of a lot more, and there’s no chance he’ll do that.
But let’s say, with the blind faith of a Daily Record writer, that King was serious enough to do this. He’s talked about coming in and overseeing the restructuring of the club via another share issue.
So basically, unless his own shares were going to be greatly diluted in value (no chance at all) he’d be telling the other shareholders, those who hadn’t sold up to him in the first place, that their own shares were going to be devalued to the point of worthlessness.
How does that usually go down with institutional investors?
So who does he ask for money? The Rangers fans again? Haven’t they paid enough? It’ll have to be them, because the myth of all these Rangers men with bulging pockets has been demolished in the last two years, and he’s not going back to the city for the cash. A man convicted of numerous tax offences, at the head of a basket case organisation with another convicted criminal on the board, and who’s explicit intention is to devalue existing shares, would be lucky to raise enough to buy a round of drinks in the boardroom.
This is not wishful thinking. This is not looking at the world through green tinted specs. Those who’d suggest it are the ones letting their imaginations get away from them, the ones who are looking at the world with an oddly coloured hue.
The difference is it’s not green.
But say I’ve got it wrong. Let’s, for one minute, play the Record reporter again. Say King gets past the SFA and Stock Market rules, say he is willing to spend his own money to put himself in the hot seat, say he’s willing to bankroll Ally, and he can raise money to help from a new share flotation. Say it all works out exactly as the fantasists believe it might.
Furthermore, say Rangers crack the case, and two years from now they qualify for Europe, with Ally leading a squad of top players in a real challenge to Celtic.
That, friends, is where the party ends. Because there is no way on God’s green Earth that UEFA will allow them to take part in European competition.
With £14 million in losses from this year, they’re already £6 million over the annual allowable amount for Financial Fair Play. Those numbers are calculated over three years though, with the most a club is allowed to lose being capped at £24 million over that timeframe, before the hammer comes down.
Once upon a time, it was all well and good for an owner to play the sugar daddy. Once upon a time it was allowed. What the media is telling us here is that King is going to bankroll the next big signing spree and carry the debts until the club is self-sustaining (which it hasn’t been in nearly thirty years), allowing them to compete with Celtic again, and make a splash in Europe.
Even if this were not utter fantasy, UEFA will never allow them to do it.
The media is still telling lies. The Rangers “rebels” have succeeded in throwing the club into further anarchy. There is no sign on the horizon of a re-organised AGM. Paul Murray and his gang were supposed to have obtained legal permission to find out who is behind Blue Pitch Holdings and the other shell companies which own part of the club, yet silence has fallen, like a pall, over that story, but dark hints have seeped out already, with The Daily Record trying to get an interview with one of Interpol’s Most Wanted. Only at Ibrox.
The SFA’s part in this is truly shocking, but that’s for another article.
Tonight we stand in awe of the men of our media, and the gullibility of much of the Rangers support.
They really do live in a world of their own, and their failure to consider the lessons of the pass does not auger well for their future.
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