The Empire Strikes Back

showbiz-mike-ashley-newcastleOh how bad must it feel to learn you’ve lost a battle where you thought you’d won the war?

Oh how tough must that be to take?

Tonight Sevco Rangers fans are pondering the future again, after Iron Mike Ashley threw the gauntlet down to Dave King and the board of directors at Ibrox, by demanding they repay his £5 million loan.

For giggles, he threw in a sweetener; a renegotiation of his merchandising deals if they agreed and wrote him a cheque.

As a piece of political theatre it is quite brilliant.

Ashley, like the rest of us, has doubtless been listening to the grapevine, and so he knows the board at Ibrox has been touring the finance houses of London and elsewhere, trying to find the money to keep things ticking over until the fans dip into their pockets for season tickets.

For reasons we can only guess at, King doesn’t seem to want to pay this out of his own pocket and there are rumours about ructions on the Ibrox board as the rest of its members are already tired of being asked to pick up the financial slack.

So, they’ve been trying to raise cash from elsewhere.

The club’s parlous financial state is a well-known fact out there, so there was never any real likelihood of them finding the cash from top brokers or investment houses.

When Charles Green went there he had pie in the sky to sell.

These guys have neither the piss not the pot, and those big doors were never going to open wide to greet them.

So I’m hardly surprised they didn’t get any joy there.

What is a shock is that they didn’t even manage to secure a loan from one of those high-interest houses, the ones that make Wonga look like the Co-Operative Bank. When the Ronnie and Reggie Lending Company won’t give you credit then things are beyond bad.

If your company is in that position you’re circling the drain for sure.

Ashley will know all of that.

He had his men on the inside until very recently, so I would doubt that there’s anyone in the country better informed as to the state of the Sevco finances. He has worked hard to secure himself as much control over the club as possible – making a mockery of this idea that you need a place on the board to exert influence – and he’s checkmated the assets.

Now, he’s offering them all back and more … to no gain for himself.

Why would you do that, unless you knew they didn’t have the money to pay you?

The Sevco fan representatives have all been on the telly already, with the leader of the Sons of Struth appearing on STV to indulge in a wonderful piece of fence sitting; if the club has the money to pay Ashley off they should do it. But if King tells the fans that he’s comfortable repaying the loan in instalments, then great. The club should do that instead.

Is he really dumb enough that he’s missed the point here?

Mike Ashley is no longer willing to wait for his cash.

This idea of paying in instalments … that’s off the table now. It’s done with.

The Sports Direct supremo wants his money, and I suspect that if Sevco’s board stalls him he’ll send in the billionaire equivalent of the heavy mob; a team of lawyers who will turn Dave King to jelly inside a minute.

And I’ll tell you something else; these won’t be like the harried, outgunned, poorly paid, low morale state prosecutors he faced in South Africa.

These guys will be wearing £1000 suits.

They’ll arrive in brand new shiny Mercedes’.

They’ll be wearing Rolex watches, and they’ll be well acquainted with the fresh smell of blood in the wind.

It was always going to go this way.

King and Murray, in their arrogance, backed up by a media that was baying like wolves for changes in the boardroom, they really did believe their own nonsense. They bought into their own fiction, that they were better for the club than a guy who’s built a fortune from nothing, one that dwarfs what any of them has.

They really did believe that someone who’s clawed his way up the Sunday Times Rich List without the inconvenience of a tax evasion trial was just going to go away, scared into submission by the ranks of the Peepil.

Not in this lifetime. How could they be so stupid?

All that talk of victory, it was hubris.

All that stuff about King and his people bringing a long term vision; it’s been months now and all that’s happened is the club has gotten itself into even more trouble.

This time last week they were picking a wholly ridiculous and un-necessary fight with the SPFL over tickets, wanting to give them away to their own fans at a time when they are skint, and for no other reason than it would have deprived other clubs of money.

You cannot even conceive of the mind-set that conjures that one up.

It has the whiff of madness about it.

They play on Sunday for a spot in the play-off semi-finals against Hibs.

If they win they’re still a ways from being able to take a place in the SPL.

If they lose they are consigned to the Championship for another season at least.

The damage that would do to them, financial as well as reputational, would be absolutely enormous.

King and his people could have come in and acted like conciliators.

They could have mended fences with the SFA and the SPLF.

They could have rebuilt their shattered relationship with other teams.

Instead of acting like a mafia don, King could have offered to keep Ashley’s people on the board, and found a way to work with them.

Instead, they swung wildly in the direction of their own lunatic fringe.

They embraced the old mind-set and pulled it to themselves like a comfort blanket.

This is the result; another round of fighting.

Another year of turmoil.

Another spell of worry and hardship and doubt and fear.

When does it cease to resemble crisis?

Well an avalanche can start with a pebble. A snowball going down a mountain gets gradually bigger as it rolls until it looks, from below, as if the whole side of the hill is on the move.

A visual analogy, right? But I prefer this one.

If you put a frog in boiling water, it jumps right out. But if you put a frog into cold water and heat it up steadily … well, you can serve that little critter in a soup when you’re finished because it’ll sit there until it cooks.

That’s what life is like for anyone at Ibrox now.

Like sitting in a pool of water that’s slowly getting hotter and hotter and hotter.

When does a crisis cease to be a crisis?

When it’s just another day.

Sevco and all its supporters continue to live in “interesting times.”

And it makes damned fine entertainment for the rest of us.

(Running On Fields of Green is a time consuming endevour. If you like, and want to support, what we do here you can help us out by sharing our work, Following us or, if you’re able, by making a donation towards the running costs for the site. We literally couldn’t do what we do without your assistance, so thank you in advance.)

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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.

16 thoughts on “The Empire Strikes Back

  • 13 May, 2015 at 11:11 pm
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    Strangely (or maybe not) I was talking to a blind hun today and his answer was for King to “just pay him the £5m”, do these gullibles ever learn, think or listen for that matter?

  • 14 May, 2015 at 6:35 am
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    love the analogy lol so true you would think it was thought up with sevco in mind lol

    1 mug of tea & 2 biscuits lol

  • 14 May, 2015 at 8:11 am
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    Great piece as always mate! Polikathermic is the term for the frog analogy i believe 🙂 HH

  • 14 May, 2015 at 9:27 am
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    Do you ever write/talk/think about anything other than Rangers? To say you\’re obsessed would be an under statement! Why is it such an all consuming interest with you? Can\’t you find anything interesting to write about Celtic?

  • 14 May, 2015 at 10:27 am
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    Everytime yoor articles jump onto Google its more about rangers than your own team celtic.Have a look about you son at the state of scottish football in the absence of botb old firm teams in the top league. Have a look at your own team and continue to tell your selves they are still as big an attraction to everyone as before for players and fans alike. Your team is loozing fans and money weekly and quality of players anualy.Keep wishing that rangers won t be back because all you are doing is wisbing for the destruction of your own.The world loves the old firm franchise there not interested in the individual team so enjoy yourself kllling scottish football

  • 14 May, 2015 at 11:14 am
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    We are “loozing fans and money weekly”? You are loozing your mind. You are loozing your happy thoughts.

    You are loozt in space my son.

  • 14 May, 2015 at 3:28 pm
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    you get some Sevco* loozers on this page James but hey, they are always good for a wee chuckle Obsessed-the new Celtic word for amusement ! Keep up the good work !

  • 15 May, 2015 at 6:05 am
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    Thids site seriously need to control posters may i let yous know officially that the word or term Hun i find highly offensive and insulting and that these terms can be used in action against your site in future should sectarianism be allowed to continue here.

  • 15 May, 2015 at 12:34 pm
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    Quite bizarre logic from “David” who seems to think Celtic will go under if Rangers do. I blame the schools.

  • 15 May, 2015 at 12:54 pm
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    You find the word hun offensive?

    How about halfwit? Numpty? Dickhead? Eejit?

    Since the word is used to define certain types of behaviour, you coming on here to get attention and pick fights is … how do I put this …?

    Well, it’s hunnish.

    “Hunnish. Of, relating to, or characteristic of the Huns.”

    You know where the word first came into vogue? 1972. After your Peepil had rioted in Barcelona.

    It was a judge who first described you as “behaving like the huns.”

    You are clearly a hun. Blame the legal system for the tag, not us.

    You don’t like that? Report it. Sue me. See you in court.

    I hope it’s the same judge.

  • 15 May, 2015 at 7:14 pm
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    Lol showing your ignorance of the word hun and how you justify it in your own head by believing that the phrase came from Barcelona statement in press .Do your homework properly and ask your older celtic fans how long you have been using this insulting name to us …they will tell you a very long time before barcelona.Now I will educate you on the real reason this is offensive and could be conscrued as sectarian to a religion other than your own. The name hun has been used twice in conection with religion by bigots first because of the well known one about the royal familys blood line being scottish and German the head of our religion hence hun meaning protestant. ..secondly because of the first Catholic priest to question rome Martin Luther who became the founder of the protestant religion who just happens to be German hence once again Hun..James you use other words to describe me in your reply which only proves that when you dont know the facts you become defensive.Lastly as the courts have already said if it is offensive to people it is illegal so trying to change the law to suit your own views will prove to be a waste of time . I hold my head high in that i treat yous all as celtic fans which the majority of yous are perhaps even you are and you are just ill informed and not the bigoted minority that both our clubs have.

  • 17 May, 2015 at 2:28 pm
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    Perhaps Big Mike is waiting for the SFA to declare King F&P then kill 2 birds with one stone.
    The disinformation prior to the EGM and the subsequent delisting has cost the main shareholders, as in Ash and the Easdales, millions.
    They won’t take that and walk away. Mike will take great delight in putting King and Murray in the dock thereby rendering the SFA’s fit and proper test useless if guilt is established.

  • 18 May, 2015 at 4:52 pm
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    Huns what are they like?

    I’m a Protestant and call the horde Huns. The word is used to describe fans of Sevco and old Rangers .. It has nothing to do with anyone’s religious persuasion. I blame their ‘skoolz’ for their inability to comprehend simple concepts.

  • 22 May, 2015 at 7:55 am
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    Dhen bhoy once again someone who likes to change facts to suit there own opinion . Unfortunately for you and all others with your green speckled view on life a fact is a fact and can’t be altered in this way.skoolz as you say…you mean the white south African separtive based education policy of roman Catholics. Don’t make laugh educated sectarianism from skoolz age lol lol lol

  • 29 May, 2015 at 3:44 pm
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    I think that I have the answer to the increasingly senseless gibberish coming from the powers that be at Ibrokes. It is very simple indeed to any Irish or descendants of said Irish.
    I will put it this way. One day on-site I was being told how to carry out quite a simple function. I had recourse to tell the foreman that ” I MIGHT BE STOUT MURPHY BUT I AM NOT THICK”. Murphy understood immediately and left me to it..
    The problem is that those in charge at Ibrokes are both Thick and Stout. A woeful combination. Then again it makes for great entertainment for the rest of us.

  • 12 June, 2015 at 1:35 am
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    I’ve really got to laugh at king OK lads we’ve done our bit its now up to the supporters to do there and buy up 45,000 season tickets is he haven a fukin laugh they have put absolutely fuckall into sevco not one brass penny Noway are the guns fallin for that one again so am afraid its back to you Mr king its a case of you go first and they might just follow.

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