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.
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