The Age Of Unreality

white-rabbit-with-watch-3Another day, another series of stories about the Battle for Sevco, and what makes it an especially interesting day is that one of them has entered the annals of my favourites thus far. It comes from the pen of Colin Duncan, on the Daily Record web-page, and I presume their print edition too.

The article highlights the “rightness” of the Sevco Rangers fans strategy in trying to “starve out the board.” In the first paragraph he lays out how many other clubs out there are at war with their own supporters, choosing a number of examples from England.

None of these supporters’ rebellions has resulted in the downfall of a board. Not one. He says this is because those fans are still funding their clubs, and this, he says, is where he thinks the Sevco Rangers fans are onto something.

He claims that starving out boards is the only way change gets made.

He’s forgotten about one other way, of course, but we’ll get to that.

Tonight’s also been notable for the breaking of another story – and the biggest possible congratulations to the Celtic Research Twitterati who had this one almost a week ago, bravo guys and take a bow. I wish I’d taken a shot at writing this up at the time – about the SPFL actually paying a broadcaster to show Sevco Rangers games.

That’s right … the league is paying the broadcaster to show matches. Because Scottish football is so rich, so weighted down with gold, that we can afford that. Our clubs can afford for the authorities to spend a quarter of a million per year to buy coverage … when the English leagues are awash with money from the satellite and cable companies paying them.

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Age of Unreality.

It was Winston Smith in 1984 who said “sanity is not statistical”, and I sometimes feel like him, in a football landscape awash in other-worldyness.

The media, the authorities, some of our clubs, the entire Sevco fan base, even, if you believe the phone-ins, big segments of the Celtic support, appear to believe in all manner of nonsense, and fairies at the bottom of the garden.

Myth, and occasionally, outright lies have replaced facts in this country.

Football clubs cannot die. Only their “holding companies” do. They somehow rise from the ashes, debt free, and the history carries on as if it never happened.

Clubs which spent ten years paying players money they never had by operating a tax avoidance/tax evasion scheme, in which they hid contracts from the authorities gained “no competitive advantage” from doing so.

The granting of a temporary license to NewCo Rangers, meaning there were two Rangers’ on the official register of Scottish football, at the same time as there was a phantom entity called Club 12, does not prove that the current version of Rangers is different from the old one.

Directors who claim they didn’t know what their own clubs were up to are somehow fit to sit in the most senior positions of the governing body for the whole game.

Clubs losing tens of millions per year can still afford to give their manager a “transfer warchest.”

Football in this game needs the club whose indiscretions almost brought it to its knees. We need it so much we ought to have let Sevco play in the top league in spite of everything … and sporting integrity be damned.

I could go on, and I could go on and I could go on. So insane has it become that, yes, there are times when I ask, as Winston did, if this is what most of the world believes, is it me who’s insane? Am I the one who’s cracking up here? Does being in the minority make me wrong? Does believing these things are lies, does holding, apparently, marginal views as fervently as I do make me … mad?

Thank the Lord for days like today, days when the madness is so clearly that, when it is so stark, that it leaves no doubt in your mind at all. Furthermore, this is one of the days when what you’re seeing isn’t madness, but pure and simple craziness.

George Carlin gave a nice wee summary of the difference between the two, and I think it would be instructive for us to examine what he said.

“A maniac will beat nine people to death with a steel dildo. A crazy person will beat nine people to death with a steel dildo, but he’ll be wearing a Bugs Bunny suit at the time.”

Ladies and gentlemen, today our media and the people who run our national sport are fully kitted out in their Bugs Bunny outfits.

Let’s start with The Record. In his piece today, Colin Duncan has missed the mark by such a distance if he was playing darts there would be one sticking out the back of David Cameron’s press officer in Downing Street instead of on the board in the Daily Record canteen.

You can set your watch to the media’s nonsense these days. They are determined to send this Ibrox board homeward to think again, and they have no idea – and nor does anyone else – what happens if they succeed. Let me give them a wee perusal of the most likely outcome.

They spin into administration. That administration will be fully controlled by those who are currently on the board at the moment. They will decide on what terms the club continue, if it does. If they want to keep the doors open, if they give a damn about that, then the cost cutting will start on a scale even the wildest Celtic fan cannot imagine.

(And I’ve tried imagining, believe me.)

If they don’t give a damn, and frankly why should they?, then there is nothing to stop them – nothing at all – to stop them closing the shop entirely, flogging what they can and pocketing the change after expenses. The low cost of buying the club means they can probably turn a profit on their shares even if all they do is sell off the property.

People keep on saying it can’t be done at Ibrox, because of various issues involving the frontage, but a good architect could maintain that frontage and build a nice wee housing block, or a nice row of offices. There are plenty of options, limited only by cost and imagination, and none of those things will be the responsibility of the “institutional investors.”

They only need to find someone who’s not constrained by those things … and they can take as long as they like.

The club will be dead whether finding those people takes six months or six years. If the alternative is that they walk away with nothing … they’ll wait.

The only other way the club comes out of it is if the administration forces them to put the whole thing on the market as a football club again. This is what the fans and the media are hoping for of course, this is supposed to be the endgame, where Dave King sweeps in on his shining steed and resurrects the Rangers of their forefathers … but no-one can explain how it happens.

Celtic fans are almost unique in British football at having brought down a board, you know. The Sevco fans believe that because we did it they can too, but there are differences between those scenarios which don’t really need spelling out. I’m happy to do it anyway.

When our board fell there was man named Fergus McCann standing by, waiting in the wings. Not only did he have the money, not only was he ready to go, but he knew exactly what the plan was, exactly what the next moves were. He took over an institution operating way below its potential and he knew what needed to be done to make it a fully functioning business. Fergus had the means and he had the know-how. His plan was predicated on hard numbers, on a realistic strategy, on a plan involving a gradual building of the club into something that worked.

King doesn’t have a plan. He wants to chase trophies, and Champions League cash, by raising money in a share issue and using it to fund the buying of players. They were lucky enough to get a share issue last time, and it was supposed to be spent on infrastructure. King wants to raise money with the explicit intention of pissing it all down a big hole. That’s not a business plan. It’s a suicide pact, and he’s asking the fans to join him in it.

Fergus, like King, said he would never give the board a penny, but in the end he knew he’d have to. The bank never had to force the issue in Celtic’s case; they only had to threaten to. Fergus got the club he wanted for less than what the board had wanted him to pay … and he always knew it would have to work just so. He paid the price because he had to.

Dave King is absolutely determined he won’t give the board a penny for their shares. but Fergus had spent a long time manoeuvring behind the scenes, buying up shares, to get himself a foothold. King has not done this. He has no interest in the purchasing of shares. He seems to want authority without responsibility, control with it costing him anything. The suspicion persists that King has set up the bank account to collect season ticket money as a prelude to using the same cash to purchase the club in the event it goes under.

He has overlooked two major issues. First, it would take a liquidation for the shares to become available at the knockdown price that would enable him to realise his ambitions without it leaving him pot-less in the process, and in those circumstances it’s NewCo 2 and all the way back down the leagues to begin the long, slow climb again. In those circumstances, I do not believe King – or anyone else – will touch them with a 20 foot pole.

Secondly, as I said above, if it’s not a liquidation it will be an administration instead, in which King will have brought the club to the point of bankruptcy. In those circumstances, and considering who the main creditors will be, he can forget about getting it easily, if he gets it at all. They will sell the club to King on the cheap only if the alternative is getting precisely zero, and as I’ve said above they can realise enough from the assets to render that moot. Otherwise, they’ll either sell it to the next set of spivs who come along or they will, quite literally, bleed him for it.

This also presupposes they don’t sue him, either in the meantime or afterwards, for tortious interference or one of the other many potential charges he faces for leading a campaign to destabilise a company so he can grab the assets in a fire-sale. I flagged this possibility in an article some months ago, and was not exactly shocked when I heard last week that he’s been reported to the Stock Exchange regulators for it.

The long and short of it is simple. Starving these people out is not going to work. The club may die in the process of trying, but, one way or another, these people will get paid. They will walk away with their pockets bulging, and that’s just a consequence of the situation. If King wants the club, he can buy the shares at market value and rebuild it from its present position. Failing that the collapse will be swift, and sure, if he keeps up his campaign.

The media’s support for it is crazy. No other word for it. They are promoting insanity.

Which brings me to the second story of the day, the barmy, lunatic, twisted SPFL policy of paying a broadcaster to show matches. This has to be a one off. I’ve never heard of anything like it, in any other sport, and as no explanation has been offered as to how this has happened I can only conclude one thing from it; this has nothing to do with promoting Scottish football.

The suspicion here, and I don’t think it’s unreasonable when it has Neil Doncaster’s fingerprints on it, the man who was willing to bury sporting integrity to have Sevco Rangers in the top division, that this was done for only one reason.

This is about promoting the Sevco Rangers brand and nothing else. This is, quite literally, the rest of the league being asked to subsidise the promotion of one club. This is every other football team in this country being deprived of income to keepone club in particular “current.”

When the Sevco Rangers fans sneer that their club is the “only show in town” I snigger, because it’s self evident bollocks. The game is thriving for the first time in ages. Yet to see the way the authorities fawn and scrape and bow and bend rules, and even bend over, for this club you honestly would think they were exactly that.

Not for the first time – and probably not for the last – the people charged with running our sport are shafting the rest of it for the benefit of the club playing out of Ibrox.

It is a scandal, my friends, an outright scandal, and I think it’s perfectly valid for this website and others to demand – yes demand – answers about why this has been done, and who allowed it to be done.

Which committee members were involved in agreeing this policy? Which teams, which boards of directors, which clubs, decided to take hard earned cash from their fellow sides in order to give the impression the shambolic NewCo is still a major player?

Who are the guilty men who have ripped off the rest of the game to feed the Ibrox beast?

It’s time the corrupt bastards running the game in this country were brought to heel, and we had all better consider the role our own clubs might have played in this farce, because some of their leaders need brought to book, and rooted out, as well.

I am sick of this. Aren’t you?

Sanity is not statistical. We are the sane people. Keep that in mind.

The rest of the game is … unreal. I am beyond pissed off with it now.

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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.

15 thoughts on “The Age Of Unreality

  • 20 May, 2014 at 10:14 pm
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    Thanks for another brilliant analysis of the comedy that is the is the current mis-management of Scottish football. I hope you are saving these gems for a best-seller. How about starting wth the secret (masonic) 5-way agreement? What was that all about?.

  • 20 May, 2014 at 10:17 pm
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    Yet another insightful, comprehensive & astute article James.

    It will be interesting to see who “walks away” first – Wallace, King, McCoist, Olgivie, Doncaster, Regan and/or the various offshoots of the TeddyBearsPicnic supporters’ groups? Who cares really – as long as they all take a hike! The Scottish game would be soooo much better off as a result.

    Keep up the good work

  • 20 May, 2014 at 10:21 pm
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    It is quite bizarre that the guys spreading stories of the death of teams in the top league are depriving that very same league of cash.
    It is beyond the pale that the ‘three stooges’ were allowed to remain in post after the debacle of 2012.
    They are incompetents, corrupt, and discredited.
    They cannot even get a sponsor for the league because the signals they send out would make any company run a mile. Which company would want to be associated with such a shower, where rules are abandoned, clear wrong doing ignored and compromised individuals left in positions of power.

  • 20 May, 2014 at 10:51 pm
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    I’m not a Celtic fan, or a Sevco/Rangers fan, but a Kilmarnock fan, and in amongst my own club’s trials & tribulations I’ve been following this car crash story with utter fascination.

    Today’s revelation about the TV deal has truly sickened me to the core. How can our supposedly independent, impartial governing body, proactively promote and prop up the interests of one club at the expense of 41 others? £250k per year, what might the share of that to a club like mine be worth? A player, some behind the scenes employees salaries? I genuinely am disgusted beyond words at the will to prop a deceitful, lying, corrupt club up.

  • 20 May, 2014 at 11:09 pm
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    I too am digusted at this whole Sevco saga. But I think Celtic supporters are missing one of the main targets in this sordid mess; namely our own Board of Directors. They are complicit in all of this. They have blessed this SPFL con by agreeing to it in the first place and by their continuing silence over the whole Sevco deal. Desmond has more than once stated Celtic need Sevco (altho he used the R word). What he says goes at CFC so PL will have supported Doncaster’s ideas. CFC should be calling our Board to account on this.

  • 21 May, 2014 at 2:07 am
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    There is a plausible alternative narrative here

    http://www.celticquicknews.co.uk/?p=15316&cpage=9#comment-2175428

    and here

    http://www.celticquicknews.co.uk/?p=15316&cpage=11#comment-2175518

    that has to be considered in arriving at any conclusion.

    If the matter is not looked at from all angles it risks being viewed from the perspective that suits the viewers beliefs and runs the risk of bampots being portrayed as idiots and thus discrediting our views.

    There may well be evidence that the only motivation was to help out Sevco but the possibility the deal was done to protect all clubs cannot be dismissed because it challenges personal beliefs.

    The danger is if we get accusations wrong we let the very folk whom we think have questions to answer that do favour only one club off the hook.
    Be careful out there on this one.

  • 21 May, 2014 at 7:04 am
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    Having previously read Auldheid’s posts then JF’s above it all is quite depressing, simply put we do need that shower (Sevco/Newco/Tesco-whatever) though it makes me want to puke to say so and until the day “if ever” we are in a league with decent competition and people want to watch it we are stuck with them.

  • 21 May, 2014 at 8:17 am
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    It’s all good and well leaving us all surmising the who done it? Point of matter is there is no way a secrete five way agreement should have been allowed the go ahead to this day I still do not get it on that one and probably never will, to me that was an insult to every Scottish football fan who by either buying a season ticket or paying at the turn style to watch his team was not a slap in the face, but to use an old Glasgow termenoligy it was a severe boot in the haw maw’s, why should one team play under different rules from the other 41? If I pay my season ticket money to my club a % of that MY money goes there, and now you are telling me I’m buying into some thing I don’t know how it works, goes, or even what are the rules in the SFA/SPFL? Naaaaaaaaa, it’s not on, until we get to the bottom of this “let’s pay the TV company money to watch TRIFC play” my money, your money, then we are no better than them, but I have noticed a few knee jerk reactions the blame game is on a roller coaster, and that is not a good thing, that only works for the ones who are doing the damage to sit back and laugh, NO I’m afraid we have to get to find out (Ally style) who and why was this decision made before we go another step here, until then if we do NOT get the answers, the we only have OURSELVES to blame I’m afraid, and I mean EVERY Scottish football fan.

  • 21 May, 2014 at 10:39 am
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    Auldheid,
    I see where your coming from.But surely those responsible should have called the broadcasters bluff ? Why accept a gun to the head ? Was this not an ideal opportunity,what every Celtic fan wants, to negotiate our own tv deal unilaterally ?
    We could afford to pay the other clubs for domestic away games.If Barca and Real can do it,why can’t we ? We would also keep all overseas broadcasting revenue.As PL says, ” we stand alone ” so why not have our own broadcasting deals ?

  • 21 May, 2014 at 10:55 am
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    James,maybe I am also mad,as I agree with everything you.
    As you eloquently point out the Sevco farce has made Scottish football a sham.
    But this sham surrounds this one cheating club.Why should the other clubs prop up this ‘ new ‘ entity.I say time to cut them adrift.
    The Premiership has brought great joy to many fans this season.So why let this scab
    eat away at,the feel-good factor enjoyed by our clubs,that are ‘ honest ‘ hard-working and live within their means.

  • 21 May, 2014 at 11:17 am
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    Braw words,whit happens noo?

    I think another pay rise is in the pipeline…..how many cats were in Schroddies Box ….hahahahaha

  • 21 May, 2014 at 11:38 am
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    When Haudit and Dodit came up here to start their jobs,the first thing I said to GWG on thecelticway.net was “Watch this pair like a hawk GWG,they are devious.”
    GWG asked me what I meant,I told him that he’d soon find out in the fullness of time.

    Little did I realise just how bad Regan and Doncaster were,even after checking them out before they got their jobs,no doubt they will walk off into the sunset soon,with their pockets bulging full of cash.

  • 21 May, 2014 at 2:44 pm
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    James great read as always. One Qn though, where would I get one of those deadly steel Dildos?

  • 21 May, 2014 at 5:04 pm
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    Another excellent article . I usually spend the entire time laughing while reading your articles but found myself angered and sickened to the core as I approached the end. I noticed a real anger in your writing I’ve not really seen before. This is disgusting. This must not be dropped, heads must roll and justice must be done. All football fans must say enough is enough.

  • 21 May, 2014 at 8:01 pm
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    I could not agree any more if I tried. That shower of shite should be booted down any long street in Scotland. Peter Lawell of celtic FC and S.F.A. Are you listening?hh

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