So, it’s going to happen after all. I can barely believe it, but here we go. The Sevco Rangers supporters, not satisfied with watching their club flirt with Death, have decided the dance is over. They are wedding themselves to the man in black.
They are voluntarily dancing to the edge, and stepping out into the darkness. In all my years watching football, and writing about the Beautiful Game, I’ve never seen anything that’s so blatantly going to end ugly.
For weeks now, as I’ve pondered their goose-step towards the abyss, I’ve wondered why the board of directors don’t just bite down on the strap and wait for someone to turn on the juice. There is no spoonful of sugar to make the medicine go down. A little shock therapy is what’s required here and there is no wonderland when they come out on the other side. There is only the numbed awareness that their reality is pain, for the foreseeable future.
If this club goes into administration now, before the season ends, they have options for going forward.
They will probably still win the league, they will probably still be promoted. It will clear the decks, allow them to make a full disclosure to the fans and allow a new plan to be put in place. If all goes well, they will start the new season on a sound footing, and with a little luck they can make a challenge for promotion. It won’t solve every problem they have – that is a task that’s going to take years – but they’ll be on the right road.
This is more than simply the sensible option. It’s the rational option, indeed it’s the only sane option on the table. Nothing else will work. Disaster, on one front or another, is certain. The most acute danger lies in the coming summer, of course, and if the bomb drops during it the next 12 months are going to be a rollercoaster ride down into the bowels of the Earth. There is no good way that ends.
A twenty five point penalty and a weakened squad means you can kiss farewell to any prospect that they will be promoted to the SPL. Coupled with McCoist’s inability to win games with anything less than a 300 to 1 wages advantage, and depending on how severe the cuts he has to live with are, and I’d question their ability to stay up in the Championship, where they will no longer be playing against the joiners and carpet fitters they’ve struggled at times to beat this year.
Full-time seasoned pros will be a much tougher prospect, and McCoist knows it and that’s why his hair is receding faster than Vladimir Putin’s chances of winning the Nobel Peace Prize. He’s more and more coming to resemble the caricature fat man on a tread mill, and I very much doubt he has enough in the tank to get them through the slog that would lie ahead.
This is a guy so disconnected from reality that he’s talking about wanting to make signings at a time when the club has had to go for a crisis loan. It is beyond parody. His excuse for not resoundingly beating Albion Rovers last weekend was staggering, and contemptible. There is not a single Sevco Rangers fan who believes a word of it.
Yet, as much as I marvel at the madness in the boardroom and the lunacy running rampant in the boot room, it’s the insanity sweeping through the supporters that genuinely takes the breath away. They say people get the leaders they deserve, and boy but that rings out loud and clear when you look at the people the Sevco Rangers fans are pinning their hopes on, and appointing to do the talking for them. Some of them have backed every slick snake oil salesman we’ve seen troop on and off the stage in this long running farce.
Their support for Dave King appears to revolve around the belief that he, himself, will personally underwrite the next great era in the club’s history. They cling to this like a comfort blanket, despite the irrefutable fact that King himself has never said he’ll do this … and in fact, has publicly stated, on more than one occasion, that it’s the furthest thing from his mind!
King’s published statements make it quite clear who’ll be paying for the next big Save Rangers campaign. He’s not attempted to lie about it – which is to his credit anyway – and this is why I’m so amazed that their supporters seem to have missed it. They are the ones who’ll be shelling out the money to keep the club afloat under King’s plans.
Note that he’s not asking for a season ticket boycott, as many seem to think. The fans will still be paying their money down. It just won’t be going to the club at first. Barmy. No-one in the media appears keen to explore this idea, so let me see if I’ve got it right.
Season ticket renewal forms come out, with prices restored to SPL levels, quite a jump considering they are being sold for a third of that at the moment. Fair enough. Everyone knows this. But what do the fans do with the forms? We know the “plan” is not to pay the money to Sevco Rangers but to stick it in a bank, there to wait for the club to see sense. Then what? What if the club never does? Do these people not realise that at that point they’ve got nothing? That they’ve effectively paid out £400 and upwards … and got nothing for it except a nice wee bank receipt?
What do you think’s going to happen? That the club will send you the season ticket anyway? Why would they? It’s more than likely that they’ll remove you from the waiting list.
What do you do then? Say your club gets enough money from those who are going to pay – and bear in mind they only need 10,000 fans still willing to do so in order to be roughly where they are now, because of the price rise. How long are you going to write off the money? How long until you want to know exactly what it’s bought you?
Some have suggested that the scheme involves buying individual match-tickets instead of season tickets. That’s a logistical nightmare, and it makes me laugh to imagine them trying to implement it. It would also cost them more over the season.
Then there’s administering the fund. Who’s running that? Will the fund be “locked” or will it be spendable? PR materials, PR firms if necessary, cost money. A major campaign, lasting months, could be an expensive undertaking. You want to see people dipping into it? Who decides who has that access? Who’s in charge of the bank account?
How much do the Sevco Rangers fans trust each other?
Now, let’s say that this all works out. Let’s say that Sevco Rangers gives the fans these undertakings, that it hands the stadium and the training ground over to the fans. Do you have any idea what removing the assets from “the business” will do to the balance sheet? The share price will drop like a stone, with everyone making a loss. Without the key property assets in “the business” good luck trying to recapitalise it in the inevitable share issue to follow. Forget “institutional investors.” Every penny is going to have to come from the supporters.
What are the odds on the fans having the money to pay for season tickets and a raft of new shares? How do you go to a guy who bought shares last time and get him to “invest” again, when the very act of doing it this time around invalidates the value of what you bought last time? At some point, don’t you start to balk? Don’t you start wondering when this ends?
Going down this road, it never does. Because if you do what King wants and you put the cash on the table to make this happen, and he gives it to McCoist, the spiralling wage costs, coupled with no discernible increase in profitability (why does everyone thing playing in the SPL will turn the finances around? Look at the facts. Look at the prize structure. It won’t) and the club will be right back here again in a year’s time, or less.
The present cost structure at Ibrox is the reason they’ve struggled to get through up until now. There is a drastic need to slash and burn those costs, to get them down to a level where the club can survive, living within its means. Rather than accept this, they cling to the usual fantasy of sugar daddies and “competing with Celtic”, instead of accepting that it’s over.
King is leading a revolution, so he says, and the line-up of “influential supporters” standing behind him would have some credibility if they hadn’t stood behind Whyte, behind Green, if they weren’t, a few weeks ago, standing behind Graham Wallace, who’s become Public Enemy Number One because he’s doing the review he promised the fans. This is a support that needs some hard truth telling to it. One way or another, disaster is on its way.
I say accept that fact. Deal with it now. Accept the limitations that your past behaviour has placed on you. Start downsizing to the point where it might save you. You’ve got the money to get through the season, so the close season has to see some changes. Take the medicine. Live with the consequences and stop trying to be a big club again. It will happen, in time, if you start building. But the building hasn’t begun yet. Until it does, catching Celtic is just a fantasy.
With the current rate of spending at Ibrox, a season ticket boycott will bring the club to its knees, and that is not speculation, it’s a simple statement of fact. The board of directors will not move an inch. The institutional investors will not shift at all. They have £50 million in assets, they have shares, they have money tied up in this thing. They can place the whole club in administration and make the most dramatic cuts imaginable, then do a sale and lease back to keep on the lights.
Rangers fans are guaranteeing the very thing this “plan” of King’s is supposed to be trying to stop. The people who supported every charlatan who’s walked through the door in the past four years are pinning their hopes to a convicted criminal who has so far ruled out putting in his own money, and who’s “plan” has more holes than Swiss cheese. Understand this … the people King is going up against really don’t do walking away, not with their investment so far.
In the final extremis they can threaten to close the whole thing down, and keep it closed past the start of next season, meaning there will be no Rangers in the league. If you think hedge funds care about the state of Scottish football, dream on.
Rangers fans are being asked to choose between a drastically smaller version of the club and going for broke in the hope they can somehow stop the inexorable march towards ten in a row. They have decided to pick up the dice and take an epochal risk, with no prospect of success.
In all my time watching football I have never seen anything as reckless and stupid.
This, finally, is the apogee of all the crises of the last few years; Sevco Rangers fans, not content with seeing their club die once … are willing to kill its reincarnation in the pursuit of short term success.
And they claim this is an act of love. For so long warped by hate, I suspect they’ve forgotten what the word actually means.
This is suicide, and they are embracing it, rushing towards it with open arms.
There really are no words to adequately describe how … ridiculous that its.
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