The Seven Year Itch

JS26991791I caught a cracking TV show last year called True Detective. If you spend as much time on the internet as me, you really can’t have failed to hear about it.

I expect that it generated talk around a lot of work depots and water coolers as well.

There’s a moment, a pivotal moment, in an episode maybe halfway through the eight episode run, when Rustin Cohle, one of the show’s two main characters (both cops; he is played by Matthew McConaughey, in a career-best performance) is sitting, drinking heavily and talking.

All he does in this show is talk, often in bizarre metaphors.

The one that I’m thinking about is perfect though.

“Someone once told me, ‘Time is a flat circle.’ Everything we’ve ever done or will do, we’re gonna do over and over and over again.”

This morning I got up early and I read the online editions of all the newspapers. One story from the sports pages leaped out at me; Graham Speirs column, focussing, today, on the Many Claims of Paul Murray.

You know something? I thought it was an excellent article … right up to the end, when he laid into the claim that it will take Sevco until 2022 to be at the level of Rangers just before Craig Whyte rode into town.

He thinks that, run properly, they should be competing with Celtic in just two years.

There is no greater example of why Rust Cohle’s quote can be so beautifully applied to Sevco and their ongoing situation than Graham Speirs nutty assertion. Run properly? Was that club ever “run properly”?

Oh, where to even start here?

Well, how about with this? The level he’s talking about … it was a phantom.

It was funded by debt, by other people’s money, by financial doping. It was Rangers on Steroids, and the reason he and others have such trouble facing up to that is that it had been going on for so long that it had become the norm. It had become expected.

They’d not simply gotten used to it, but they forgot that it had ever been any other way.

The fiction became their reality.

The media might want to dance around this, but I’m bored with that.

David Murray was not a financial genius, or some kind of business guru who accomplished amazing feats. He was a beneficiary of largesse from a bank that was out of control and certain executives within it who’s actions were tantamount to fraud.

His entire “business empire” was a product of an inflating debt bubble that exploded spectacularly and which, in one of the greatest scandals in the history of public finance, we, the tax payer, ended up carrying the can for.

I consider David Murray a crook on the level of the bankers who almost brought the system down in 2008. He is the most widely lauded charlatan since Robin Hood, except that the straight shooter in the green garb took from the rich and gave to the poor whilst Murray and his ilk took (and continue to take) from the poor and gave money to themselves and their rich mates.

It was via this enormous misappropriation of what were then bank, but ended up public, funds that the Rangers we grew up with was built. They were never “well run.” They were a basket case. Sevco was born, and remains, one.

You have to remember how much debt there was at Ibrox during this period and how much was shuffled between one Murray company and the next, like a street magician’s pea under his paper cups.

To offer but one example, there was the notorious “underwriting” of £50 million of the club’s debt, which he effectively transferred to Murray International instead. Let’s be clear about what this meant; he didn’t “pay” that bill himself. He didn’t really underwrite anything. That money was still owed to the bank; it just wasn’t owed by Rangers any longer.

But there was no great “sacrifice” on Murray’s part.

Rangers effectively got that money for nothing, as did he in the end, although that didn’t matter much in the grand scheme of things.

Like every other part of the Murray “empire” Rangers was sold off when the wheels came off the wagon following Lloyds’ takeover of BOS.

We know what happened next.

This club hasn’t lived within its means for nearly 30 years. Now they are being forced to.

Those who incessantly ask the ridiculous question “where has all the money gone?” should do a little homework, because the answer isn’t hard to find. It’s gone on infrastructure spending and wages, because they are still trying to live large, as the Rangers of old, instead of as Sevco, a lower tier team which ought to have cut its cloth accordingly.

Yet in spite of this, the fantasy persists that everything will be back to normal in short order.

Even if the “normal” was not a club blown all to hell and back on artificial money the idea would be demonstrable nonsense.

How many times does this have to be repeated? The club is living beyond its means right now and getting by on short-term loans to avoid another administration event.

Yet the only answer some people can think of is spending more money … I feel like an idiot going over and over and over it, but this is Economic 101 stuff here; you cannot spend your way out of debt … is this hard to understand?

The people pushing this line, and there is another mad piece on the same subject in The Evening Times tonight … they keep on telling us that the club will get the money back “when they reach the Champions League.”

Oh yeah?

How much will they have to spend to get there?

How much will they have to increase wages, and how much will they have to squander on transfer fees?

Do they really think the rest of Scottish football is simply going to roll over for them?

The club needs significant spending on infrastructure. If they want to untie the “onerous contracts” they’re facing expensive legal battles on top of that. Can they afford to do all these things at once? Or what areas will have to suffer to promote others?

How is this supposed to work? Because I’m not getting it.

To over-haul Celtic within two years, they’d need to spend £30 million (at least) on players, which is money the club doesn’t have, on the off-chance of a £15 million “windfall” the club might not get … and that’s supposed to help?

Do they realise that even as SPL champions they’d need to navigate a qualifiers minefield?

Or are Europeans teams supposed to roll over like the Scottish ones?

The presumption in these kind of articles is appalling.

Is all this anything other than an arrogant fantasy?

You know, I’m sick saying all this. I’m equally sick reading it.

Paul Murray’s sins against fact and logic are many. He and his people basically waged war against their own club, destabilised the business to the point of crisis and then sought to capitalise on their own actions.

It is staggering, and shocking, to contemplate but even more unbelievable is the media, and certain sections of the support, applauding this as if it was virtuous behaviour.

But you know something? What he said the other day, about Sevco being seven years from the level they think they should be … well, that might be the closest thing to honesty we’ve heard coming out of Ibrox for many, many years.

I think it’s wildly optimistic – by about three years at the very least – but it is a move in the direction away from the mad fantasies of quick glory.

Murray and King helped promote these fantasies, of course, and doubtless they’ll say the mess was bigger than they realised and try to blame the previous board for the scale of the work that needs done … but as we’ve outlined before, some of that ought to be laid at their own door.

Lying to the fans in the run up to the EGM came naturally to those guys. They didn’t worry about the time when they would have to clue the supporters in on the truth. They hired a PR firm in anticipation of this moment, and one run by Jim Traynor at that, a figure so discredited in the eyes of everyone in Scottish football that I’d be amazed if the club wasn’t his only client.

In the interim, that firm has been busy planting stories, obfuscating and distorting the reality … but yesterday Murray took a step towards acknowledging that it cannot forever be held at bay.

Amazingly, it is the media – again – who are pushing the lunacy.

It is the press promoting the idea that the timetable can be accelerated, that the glory days of Rangers, funded on debts, can be realised at the Newco, even now, when it is skint.

See, Murray and his people can talk about a club “living within its means” all they like, and they can attempt to move them towards that, but a lot of the supporters don’t want to hear it and the media most certainly doesn’t. They will fight against the imposition of sanity, and common sense, until those paths are abandoned for madness … because that’s how it works there.

At Ibrox, time is a flat circle. Everything they’ve done, they’re going to do over and over again … because no-one wants to stand out front and centre and say the cycle must be broken.

This is reality, for any board that takes over the club.

Years of pain lie ahead. That’s an established fact. Years of disgruntled fans paying inflated prices to watch sub-standard football … or years of hand-to-mouth, stark terror, debt piling higher, where one bad result can see them tumble into an abyss they won’t get out of.

Pain, either way. A rebuilding job, or chasing unicorns in a dream … if there’s a happy ending to be had it comes with the first, after a long, hard road. But so many will demand that the club do the second, with all the devastation that comes with it.

Depending on your angle of view, the media is either leading the charge, or forcing the journey, into the land of make-believe.

Hell mend the directors if they follow that path.

But you know what? They’re not going to have a choice. They built this unrealistic sense of expectation, the one the media now stokes daily, and no matter how they might want to backtrack on it, they can’t.

A seven year itch will be too difficult to be bear. The Sevco fans are scratching already.

I once finished an article on this by saying the wolves were at the door of Ibrox. They no longer are. They’re in the living room now, where the party streamers are still hanging up, and they’re eating the buffet.

It’s a matter of time before they finish that and start in on the family members.

The most ungrateful fans on Earth, and a media that doesn’t do real life, are howling … and we’re not even a calender month into the new board’s tenure.

By the time the more sensible “investors” realise this, it’ll be too late.

But of course, it already is.

The lunatics took over this asylum a long, long time ago.

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23 comments on “The Seven Year Itch
  1. Summed up to a “T”.

    The media went to Hamlyn for their “training”…part of the course work was a day’s practice, following a bloke playing magical pipes (or was it flutes) ?

  2. You would be hard pressed to find many Rangers fans who see Minty as anything other than a hero. They refuse to accept he did anything wrong – apart from offloading a drowning pup to Craig Whyte.

    They still believe he spent his own money on Rangers, or more accurately they refuse to accept he was a scam artist.

    You can lead a horse to water and all that.

  3. Remember when they were ‘linked’ to George Soros?

    Oh how we laughed.

    Little did we realise that they were perhaps being linked to their very own ‘George Soros’ in much the same way that the Bank of England is linked to the real George Soros.

  4. So austerity is the solution for Sevco but not for Scotland or the UK according to Nicola and your beloved SNP? Please explain.

  5. They have ignored a simple fact of being….you keep doing the same thing you get the same results. Shame,,,,,not:-)

  6. Lewis

    Take your head off, take a long piss in it, and then pop it back on, alright?

    You want to score a cheap political point, well I have a politics blog for that. Neither the time OR the place.

  7. Excellent piece again James….

    Unfortunately we had a chance to put a hose in their mouth in the summer of 2012,and didn’t.

    Uncle Tom Lawwell is supping Campbell’s soup and getting aroused about his bonus cut of the mythical 10 million when they return.

    They’ll never die when guys like Lawwell are around mate.

    Scottish fitba is about to be polluted by their presence in the top flight next season….it’s as certain as ‘Resolution 12’ still being unfinished business at the Celtic AGM 2022….when the Zombies are getting helped back to their rightful place by then head of SFA….Uncle Tom Lawwell…..wait and see!!

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