Paying The Piper

Richard-GoughSometimes you read, see or hear something so ludicrous that your very first reaction to it is to burst out laughing.

I felt like that yesterday, reading Richard Gough tell the Sevco supporters that they should get behind the team, and buy season tickets.

Dear oh dear. Is this supposed to be funny?

Am I supposed to chuckle when I think back on the time, not so long ago, when he was urging those same fans to starve out the old board?

Do the supporters of this club ever get a clean break? This guy is speaking on behalf of the new hero, the man who pushed the old board to the brink, and the club with them. It’s because of men like Gough, like his man King, that they were forced to go cap in hand to Mike Ashley for the loans to keep on the lights, which in turn handed him the keys to the kingdom.

This is one of the most bizarre situations in the recent history of Scottish football. These are the men who wrecked a company by destabilising it at every turn, and now they are in charge of the same company and blaming their predecessors for the state of it.

Imagine the brass neck it takes to do that.

More than that, imagine the contempt for the fans. To present yourselves as the solution to the problems you helped to create. To advise the opposite of what you did when you were outside the walls. To think people have forgotten that.

It helps, of course, to have a shameless, spineless, clueless local media on your side.

What was the truth about the previous board at Ibrox?

We’ll never really know because they never got a break. They had no chance.

The argument against them isn’t that they didn’t support the manager; they did.

It’s not that they didn’t talk to the fans. They did that too.

Is it really just as simple as they weren’t “Real Rangers Men” and they didn’t have the support of the media?

How can one club experience so much turmoil?

We caused some of it. We, the bloggers.

Some of us did it by leaking stories, others by putting the worst possible spin on things.

Some of us did it because, in all honesty, we enjoy baiting Sevco and their fans.

Some of us did it for the sheer pleasure of it.

For others, it was strictly business, nothing personal at all, covering every moment because that’s what had to be done.

For myself, I’ve drifted in and out of each of these groups.

There are days when I’ve done it because someone had to, and others where the pleasure of it has been sharp enough to taste.

But make no mistakes; we didn’t bring the wrecking ball.

The people swinging that were the “Real Rangers Men” themselves, with a little help from their pals in the press.

Do you remember when this site and others mocked Graham Wallace for his “120 day review”?

He announced that to great fanfare, and the press and Sevco fans loved it, at first.

It was only the bloggers who wondered why it should take four months to produce a policy document.

At the end of it, what they presented was so vague we all wondered why they’d bothered, and I savagely mocked it here as a consequence.

But you know something? King has been at Ibrox almost as long.

Where is his “120 day review”?

Where is the plan?

He’s given a few press conferences, but every single word he has uttered has contradicted what came before.

He treats the media with as much contempt as it’s possible to do … and they print every word he says anyway, without question, as if they don’t have basic comprehension skills.

Do these people have any backbone at all? Any concept of how gutless they look?

In my last article, I wrote about Warburton and how he talked a good game at his own first press conference, and I wondered how it would translate into action. I knew that either way he’d get a free ride from the hacks.

The plan, according to him, was to build a young team capable of playing passing football.

Remember that? It was only last week. It’s fresh in my memory, and I’m sure yours, for that very reason.

It hasn’t taken long for the nonsense to start though.

John Eustace? Eah? He’s 35!

If the manager wanted experienced players to help guide the youngsters he could have re-signed McCulloch, Miller, Boyd or one of the other old crocks who helped guide them to third place in the league and humiliation last season.

The media would have scorned that. Or maybe they would have. So … a fresh face was needed.

But Eustace doesn’t fit the profile at all except in that he’s cheap.

And how has the media responded?

The Daily Record describes him as a “cornerstone signing”, which makes me want to laugh uncontrollably.

Note to the breathless hack who wrote those words; a cornerstone signing is supposed to last more than one year. You build a team around him. Not sling him into a midfield for one season to try and win promotion.

This level of coverage is pitiful and even disgraceful, but it’s all part of the pattern, all part of the quest to make it look as if this club is on the up and up, instead of stumbling from one crisis to another.

And so our media become PR men themselves, working to help the club sell tickets.

They are a mess, and patching it up with an unknown defender and a 35 year old midfielder isn’t going to make them into Barcelona.

Are these the players King promised, the “Premier League” class footballers, who are going to be challenging us next year?

Little questions like that are inconvenient.

This is a club that has mastered the art of feeding disinformation to the press and its own fans, but deep down I think it goes much further than that. I think Sevco is a club that no longer knows when it’s lying to itself.

So you have people like Gough, a hero to their supporters, advising them to put their faith in a man who helped wreck the last three years … on the basis that the last three years were a wreck.

He says King being chairman “vindicates” the policy that resulted in Mike Ashley holding the assets and strangling them for money.

Gough also claims there is a plan, which no-one has seen.

He says it’s good the club is now talking about “signing players” rather than focussing on the chaos off the pitch, but he’s oddly ignorant of the fact that last year, whilst players were being signed, it was he and King who were causing the chaos.

Our media clearly doesn’t think that’s very important.

They even let him away with slandering the character of Lee Wallace, one of only a handful of players who was prepared to transfer over to the NewCo, and play his way up through the ranks with them. If that’s not captain material I don’t know what is, but rather than write that, or something like it, the media is on board with a complete unknown who won’t be at the club 18 months coming in to take his place.

That’s how you reward loyalty, eah? Can you imagine if Celtic did such a thing?

Then there’s the extrordinarily favourable coverage King still gets.

The mark of how much the new chairman cares is demonstrated by how little time he spends here in the UK.

Celtic’s Dermott Desmond is often criticised for being an absentee landlord, but in his place is a board of directors that gets things done on the day to day. He’s never sought to be the man at the helm.

King positioned himself for the chairman’s seat, but will probably spend less than one third of the year actually sitting in it, doing the job.

It’s a vanity post, and one that so far has cost him not a red cent.

Loans don’t count.

This may have escaped his notice, as he appears to believe the opposite, but the defining characteristic of a one is that it’s repaid someday.

Maybe he thinks they work like EBT’s.

When the recent EGM came up at Ibrox, neither he nor Ashley even bothered to turn up for it.

Sports Direct, who sent five lawyers to a minor legal skirmish the day before, didn’t even send someone to represent them during it.

The media doesn’t even try to cover the implications of that, and they are enormous.

The club is a chessboard being fought over by a “glib and shameless liar” and egomaniac and a businessman who takes no prisoners and has spent so long being insulted and vilified here in Scotland that he’s got no incentive to do them a turn and come to some arrangement.

He knows that if mug punters will buy season tickets that they’ll also buy jerseys.

He knows that if the team starts to win games and there’s a “feel-good factor” he’ll make money.

And he knows other things too.

He’s an actual billionaire, not a media spun one.

He knows he has the wealth and the resources to ride out a bad spell and whatever losses comes with that.

He knows Sevco don’t, that King doesn’t, that Park and his people won’t carry the water if it’s going to be an uphill journey.

He knows the City of London won’t touch them, that Sevco is weak and that the right (or wrong) nudge could bring it all down.

This is the legacy the “Real Rangers Men” share responsibility for.

The media laps it all up, because they did their own part in bringing these guys to the club.

Now they have what they wanted; access.

Exclusives. Succulent lamb, fresh from the hands of a glorious new messiah.

He’s using them, but that’s fine because they’re using him too.

The man who pays the piper calls the tune, after all.

We’ve heard this song before, of course.

It ends with the orchestra standing on the deck of sinking ship, instruments in hand, playing as the whole lot goes down.

(I’m a full time writer and the support of my readers is what keeps me goingr. If you like what I do, and are able, and want to support the work the site does, you can make a donation at the link. If every reader was able to donate just £5 a year that would keep the site going strong well into the future. Many thanks in advance.)


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.

9 thoughts on “Paying The Piper

  • 20 June, 2015 at 10:25 pm

    And Phil saying King offering his shares to big Mike,if the bears here about that,the Lying King would be advised to stay in SA for ever.

  • 20 June, 2015 at 11:09 pm

    This is probably the most incisive post that I have read about newco…informative and determined to the point that I am embarrassed, with reference to Scottish football journalism…

    We all know this but I had to read it in black and white here to realise it, thanks.

  • 20 June, 2015 at 11:37 pm

    Spot on as usual!!

    The RRM and the SMSM have been at the heart of this since day one. We’re into year number 4 and they keep doing it, I’m almost bored laughing at it!

  • 21 June, 2015 at 10:26 am

    Good post James,only one mistake though,you said ‘That’s how you reward loyalty, eah? Can you imagine if Celtic did such a thing?’
    Remember what our so called old board did tae our greatest ever manager?

  • 21 June, 2015 at 3:10 pm

    I agree with everything Don said, no more buying newspapers for me!! Thanks James good read as usual 🙂

  • 21 June, 2015 at 4:02 pm

    Remember the SMSM reaction when a certain Mr Moravcic was signed.

  • 21 June, 2015 at 4:41 pm

    How is it, that after all this time, we still don’t know how king made his fortune in apartheid South Africa? Keep hammering those nails into the msm coffin. HH

  • 22 June, 2015 at 1:04 am

    Quite informative post as per usual. Keep it up mate.

  • 22 June, 2015 at 7:20 am

    A fine read James, thank you.

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