The Writing On The Wall

ebb-tide-03-1024I noted today, with a great deal of amusement, the Daily Record calling on Sevco Rangers fans not to give up in their fight against the board of directors because a group of fans at Hull had won a battle against their own owner. Sometimes something just strikes the funny bone, and this was one of those stories. I had a good laugh over it.

A couple of wee minor points seem to have escaped the attentions of the writer. The first was that the fans didn’t actually win anything at all. It was the English FA who stepped in and specifically forbade him from changing the name. Had they not done so, the club would, right now, be named Hull Tigers, and the supporters would have had sod all to say about it.

I understand the need people have to spin these things as victories for the fans, but I struggle to think of many scenarios where supporters have been able to oust a board of directors. Celtic did it, but there was one extenuating circumstance there … we had a committed group of individuals standing by, ready to take over, once the old guard was gone.

Sevco Rangers has Dave King. Maybe. Possibly. A crook who wants to spearhead a fund raising campaign where the fans themselves will pay for him to get his hands on the club. It doesn’t strike me as a recipe for success as much as disaster.

The Hull story has a lot in common with other tales where fans have fought the good fight and been over-ruled anyway. Cardiff has a new strip, new colours and their talented and well liked manager was removed by an owner who doesn’t take prisoners and does things his own way and to Hell with what anyone else thinks. The Glazer family still runs Manchester United. Leeds continues to be passed around various scumbags like a scud book in a jail and there are numerous other examples which five minutes of thought and ten minutes of research could uncover.

Sevco Rangers fans are fighting the wind. Even if they were united, had a clear idea of what goals they were fighting for, even if they had genuine leaders instead of being led by change-with-the-wind chancers and charlatans who make America’s Dumbest Criminals look like intellectual heavyweights and had, waiting in the wings, serious people with a serious plan instead of a tax cheat who’s “strategy” is to raise £50 million somehow and spend it trying to “catch Celtic” they would still be on the wrong side of history and with little chance of success.

The obstacles in front of them are enormous. The people they are dealing with have no faces, only offshore PO boxes. They are hidden behind complex laws the average Sevco fan couldn’t understand even if they weren’t written in economic and legalese gobbledygook and in very small print. These people are experts when it comes to operating like this. Trying to pierce the veil is like trying to capture lightning in a bottle. Exhaust yourselves trying. It won’t matter.

Their plan is unfathomable, even to people who know what they are looking for and where to look for it, which the average Sevconian has not even tried to do. £70 million has floated out the window in only a couple of years, so it’s entirely possible they already consider their job done, and are now just hoovering up whatever scraps are left. I certainly cannot imagine how they can believe there is money in this wreck of a club over the long term.

Yet, they still hold cards worth tens of millions, and that’s simply based on the value of the shares. If they were to break this thing up into little bits and sell the fragments off there could be millions more. The biggest money spinner, of course, is if they restructure the company, sell the “football club” part of it to King or whichever mug wants it, and rents the stadium back to them. If you think fans would never buy into that, think again. Faced with a choice between a club that was bleeding and no club at all they’d accept it alright.

There is only one way this battle is won, and that’s if the supporters stop pissing about and approach the current incumbents and ask them, straight up, what it would take to see them off the premises. It will cost a fortune, but Charles Green said there were half a billion (haha) Sevco fans spread out across the planet. Let’s err on the side of caution (and still crawl out on a limb) and say there a million of them out there. Chip in a fifty each and wave these people goodbye.

Otherwise, start looking at the writing on the wall.

Sevco fans have no cards to play here. Boycott and it’s the playing squad that suffers initially, and then finally the board will come back to them and say they need to stump up just to keep the club alive. King is adamant he won’t buy the shares, but still wants to front a takeover. He must have been absent from business school on the day they taught business. I’ve never heard of someone who expected to get his hands on an entire company in a takeover without paying something for it. I am flabbergasted that anyone can take this joker seriously.

The Hull fans were, at least, realistic. Their spokesman told The Record that “The key thing for Rangers fans is knowing exactly what they want to achieve. We had some simple aims that we stuck to until the end. You have to believe in your strategy.”

Hull fans were fighting against a name change. It doesn’t get much simpler than that. They wanted to retain their identity. They were completely united on the matter. They had a media campaign which stood foursquare behind them, and for all of that they’d still have been beaten had the English FA not objected for its own reasons.

Sevco Rangers fans have a list of demands longer and more complex than the US Tax Code. They want board members gone without taking another penny out of the club. They want the answers to a thousand questions. They want a clear plan on how funds will be raised – from God knows where – and how Celtic can be caught. Some of them want their own people round the big table in the future to guard the club and its “traditions” and they want the not inconsequential matter of the stadium and training ground resolved by way of an iron clad guarantee, in writing, or the deeds transferred to a rag-bag group of them to “keep safe.”

They’re not asking for a lot, then, eah?

They appear to want businessmen to suddenly forget they are in this to make money, and for corporate confidentiality to be set aside just to provide them with the proof that the Unseen Fenian Hand has been directing this all the time.

They then appear to want someone to come in and magic money out of thin air or by some malign alchemy. Unless they are bringing in Rumpelstiltsken I think they’re going to have trouble with that one … and can you even imagine, in your deepest fantasy, a club run by a board made up of Dave King, Walter Smith, Chris Graham and Mark Dingwall? It makes the mouth water.

The only things “simple” about all that are the people proposing it.

Still, the media enjoys feeding their optimism and their enthusiasm for a fight.

There’s a fantastic moment in The Wire’s sensational second season when the hard boiled workers on the Baltimore docks manage to convince the young, loud upstart Ziggy Sabotka that he has what it takes to beat his nemesis Maui in a fist fight.

They gee him up, telling him he will be a legend on the waterfront and then, when he’s wound up, they watch him go. It all ends in disaster of course, and they watch in absolute paroxysms of laughter as Maui casually overwhelms him and slaps him around.

When he grabs Ziggy by the lapels of his jacket, orders the forklift driver to take them up and throws the kid onto the top of a container, and leaves him there, you get the distinct feeling he’s doing it as much for Ziggy’s own good as for his own satisfaction.

I love the media for giving Sevco Rangers fans all this false hope. It keeps the battle going, and assures the speed towards a bloody end.

If they can’t read the writing on the wall they are going to run slap bang into it.

Hell mend them when they do.

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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.

7 thoughts on “The Writing On The Wall

  • 18 June, 2014 at 3:49 pm

    Sevco fans get spoon fed this, they then become gleeful and jolly, only for the situation to be explained fully. Their wee glum faces give me a joy similar to that of opening an advent calendar, and come the 25th of December (comical prediction) I hope their smoldering ashes of a phoenix crumble again, fully stripping assets to divide cash amongst investors. This will be the same day they realize their IPO dream was a pipe dream and what it really means when investors control a board…short term vision, dividends etc etc

  • 18 June, 2014 at 4:01 pm

    Great piece. I can’t wait for this car crash to happen.

  • 18 June, 2014 at 4:11 pm

    Had a good laugh when the new season’s fixtures came out attracting comments like ” arguably the most attractive game of the day” from the BBC about the huns v mini huns at Aye Broke.

    Arguably? What possible argument could endorse a game involving a bunch of overpaid has been cluggers against a lot of junior football standard weans, compared to Aberdeen v Dundee United.

    Only in Scoddland : (

  • 18 June, 2014 at 4:27 pm

    Another brilliant piece James and everything is indeed pointing in only one direction. However, WATP is more than just a way of thinking with them, it is a firmly established tennet. When Walter Smith said if you can’t afford it then do something so that you CAN afford it. They have been conditioned that way for generations and many people in many positions will make sure they reach the SPFL next season. There may well be many many honest mistakes by the men in black but there is absolutely no way they will not come up unless they actually do go bust. Having said that I sincerely hope that I am proved wrong.

  • 18 June, 2014 at 6:06 pm

    What’s your take on the first game of the season, season ticket holders only? lol. Our corrupt guardians looking after sevco again and pissing all over the rest? When will we rise up, will we rise up and put an end to these brazen b@$7@rds?

  • 18 June, 2014 at 6:08 pm

    Lol is THAT what it’s about? Lol the efforts these people go to never ceases to amaze me.

  • 19 June, 2014 at 9:05 am

    This needn’t be published but you can if you like.
    Your stuff is good and I realise you blog about Celtic and stuff.
    What it says on the tin and all that.
    And often the comments are interesting and informative.
    However when I read stuff like Huns and Mini Huns in the comments above and they are not edited out then I think you devalue what you are trying to achieve.
    We both know you are better than that.
    Part of what you are doing is educating the blue clan – if only they’d listen – but part is educating your own fringe too.
    Good luck.

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