I daresay it might even look like one, inside the walls of Ibrox.
Maybe it was, in the same way, I imagine, that some of Epirus’ generals must have thought they’d done alright at the Battles of Heraclea and Asculum.
Their leader, Pyrrhus, knew better, telling one of his more switched on officers that “If we are victorious in one more battle with the Romans, we shall be utterly ruined.”
On the surface of it, one would think it’s not been altogether bad for them. They’ve raised some money, they’ve kept on the lights, and they’ve got enough to lumber onwards to the end of October and maybe into November and December.
But without a massive influx of cash, this club is going to sink like a stone, and please note; that is millions just to get through the season, to continue to shamble through the wilderness like a George Romero zombie. That’s the best they’re going to get, and they need to adjust to that.
They need to stop thinking about being competitive. They need to focus only on survival. Selling them on that is hard, a little like trying to sell a fat guy on pizza flavour Rivita instead of the 12 inch stuffed crust Meat Ultimo.
McCoist has tried it, though not very hard. (Selling them on austerity. Not the Rivita.) He might have wailed like a big wean about not being able to sign a new starting eleven every year, but he knows the days of Laudrup’s and Gazza’s are over forever.
He’s a curious fellow, is McCoist. He preaches this mantra of “we don’t do walking away” when the club is at its lowest ebb and now that they’re a couple of seasons at most from the top flight he’s singing a song about the clock running down on him at Ibrox.
This surprises me for a number of reasons. He knows he has a cast-iron contract, and that no-one can fire him without handing him a chunk of change. He’s watertight, especially with the club in dire straits. They can’t afford to get rid of him.
Granted, he’s no longer a young man, but unless a Greggs diet stops him in his tracks he’s got years to go in the game, and if he wants it, I suspect that he can get through much of it sitting in the dug-out at Ibrox unless there’s a dramatic change of the tide.
I find it equally curious that he’s talking about this at a time when he’s “invested” what he calls a “right few quid” in shares.
This piqued my interest. Yesterday, when I was reading that, I found myself humming a song. When I realised I was doing it I found it amusing, because it’s from the movie Oliver, and I made it the title of this piece because it seems so right on the nose.
“in this life, one thing counts … in the bank, large amounts … I’m afraid these don’t grow on trees … you have to pick a pocket or two.”
So whose pockets were picked to get Sevco Rangers through the next few months?
McCoist “invests” in new shares as the club scrapes across the line, and in the same week he starts talking about how a time will come when he’ll get sick of the pressure he’s under and head for the hills. Am I the only one joining the dots?
It may just be that I’m reading the landscape wrong. But, for just a minute, put yourself in the shoes of those on the Sevco board of directors who know what has to be done.
The club is in a bad spot and it’s in that position partly because it has a top heavy management structure, a tendency to live beyond its means and a team that’s far too expensive. There are people on the board who are behind the man in the manager’s office on these issues and are highly resistant to the idea of making cut-backs. They want to protect the brand, by making it look as if the old Rangers is still alive and well.
So what do you do if you’re on the other side, the sensible side?
Well, what you can do is approach the manager and lay it all out for him. Even after some of the key players have put down a few quid to try and get the share issue to succeed, because otherwise they are writing off their investments up until now … well, you’re still coming up short of the percentage required by the Stock Exchange to make it legitimate.
Without hitting that mark, the shares can’t be traded and the club will not be able to pay its bills for the coming months.
So you tell McCoist what that means. It means administration. Ta-ta to some of his co-workers in the management team. His playing squad will have to let go five, six, more, first team stars in order to start breaking even. It means the training ground is up for auction, and if you’re really in the mood to confront him with Armageddon you tell him that his own salary will need to be cut and, in the final extremis, the stadium might need to be sold in a lease-back deal.
You present all this to him as fait accompli.
There’s nothing else for it, you tell him. Except …
I suspect – I am not stating this for a fact, mind, I am just saying I suspect it and I think it’s possible – that McCoist has been told if he made up the shortfall there would be no need for any of those things. That it would buy the club time, which would give them a fighting chance.
It would also have been possible to sell him on the idea by reminding him that at 20p each the shares were grossly under-valued compared to what the fans paid. It’s entirely possible that McCoist could come out of this with a tidy profit.
Nevertheless, it looks, to me, as if it was McCoist’s money that got them across the finish line. That it was his pockets the directors picked to give them a chance of seeing them through to the AGM.
How does he feel about that? How would you feel? I think it’s probably the reason he’s been greeting about the pressure and talking about packing up his tent and heading for pastures new.
In the meantime, there are no real answers here to the wider problems which confront them. Having paid off Imran Ahmed with cash they didn’t have, rather than risk a court date later, they’ve diluted a pot of money that wasn’t strong to begin with.
The more you examine them, the more you realise they are a club living on borrowed time.
The shambles involving the Malaysians has, again, demonstrated this organisations total lack of credibility in The City. Even if Sevco Rangers itself was not a black hole for cash, even if there was some profit to be made in seeing them “restored”, it will never be realised now. They’re talking about going to institutional investors for £10 million on the back of what we’ve seen this week?
There’s more chance of Alex Salmond being elected the next leader of the Scottish Labour Party.
In the places where it counts, in the boardrooms and investment houses, the horrendous image of one of their club directors, a guy who’s done time, a guy with a fraud conviction, sitting down for lunch with a guy on Interpol’s Most Wanted List is going to haunt them for years and years to come. No investor will touch them. No bank will lend them money.
The man the media and much of their support is similarly relying on is, himself, a fraudster and a crook, a man who bought off the South African government because the alternative is jail.
They are about as credible an investment as a “Dry Clean Only” raincoat. They are finished.
Today the price of a Sevco share has fallen to 19p. A box of Freddo Bars is worth more than a Sevco share certificate.
This really is an institution on hard, hard times.
Crisis swirls around them like a storm that won’t quit. The vultures are circling, and for the first time since all this began Ally is talking about walking away.
Can you read the writing on the wall?
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