Fever Pitch

By Hugobaws 10/01/2018

Fever Pitch, Nick Hornby’s bestselling book follows his life growing up watching Arsenal through the highs and lows of a number of league campaigns. It’s a good football fans read, charting the emotion and at times obsession with loyalty to a team, even when that is irrational in the face of evidence that something is not right, on or off the pitch. Social Media has now reached fever pitch when it comes to the potential Administration of The Rangers*, and there’s overwhelming evidence that things mostly off the pitch are out of control.

Since the events of 2012, the Club/Company/Ethereal Entity has lurched from one crisis to another. In 2012 it was the Murray ego, in 2018 it is the Lying King. Dave King has finally tied himself up in a financial knot and looks like he will pull down the whole RIFC/TRFC edifice with him. The Auditors believe Dave King (NOAL) is good for the substantial shortfall in the Accounts, that is required to continue trading. He’s told a Judge he’s skint, but has an imminent Takeover Panel judgement to navigate. King looks likely to cost his co-investors millions of pounds, not to mention face painters and assorted ordinary small businesses, but professional reputations look like they are about to be trashed. The Auditors who signed off the Published Accounts and believed King may now be regretting their involvement.

In 2012 David Murray crashed the bus in spectacular fashion, folding Rangers (IL)* and MIM and leaving a trail of debt with the Bank not that far short of £1bn. The current predicament does not include HMRC unpaid bills, but a severe lack of cash and living hand to mouth at the mercy of a convicted criminal Chairman, was always unlikely to end well. With only Directors as major creditors this time, and soft loans dried up, the Club/Company looks likely to succumb to the same cash flow problems that affect hundreds of businesses each year.

But don’t worry, the guys in charge have experience of this type of thing. The cast of leading characters is the same; Alastair Johnston, Paul Murray, Andrew Dickson, and of course Dave King. They are all trained Accountants (maybe Dave lied about his qualifications) so what could possibly go wrong? The Auditors are Accountants, right? The plot has been re-written, but we may be heading towards a familiar ending; hundreds of Creditors stiffed, debts dumped and inaction by the Scottish Football Authorities. Players will lose their jobs and a period of austerity will signal the end to Tournament s in Florida and 5* Hotels.

Aye right.

Despite the financial turmoil, players are still linked to the Govan Club daily by a giddy MSM. In the big transfer news of the week, Carlos Pena transferred the contents of his nose to a pair of TRFC shorts on camera, as a fond farewell after going on loan to Pedro’s new Club in Mexico. The marquee signing looked exactly like that, a marquee, and The Rangers* still have to pick up the thick end of £14k wages while he chases some caravans in Mexico. Dave’s much heralded £10m transfer spending to Bankroll the mad Portuguese has been transferred to the published Accounts; £7m showing as owed in staged player transfer fees, Pedro’s legacy for a squad now being dismantled.

Austerity was also slow to kick in back in 2011/2012, in the run up to Administration of the original Rangers (IL)*. Despite Euro exits (Malmo and Maribor) and the loss of valuable European money to keep the lights on, Rangers still found time to sign new players. Mervan Celik arrived on a 3-year deal weeks before Armageddon, only for his Contract ripped up weeks later (post admin), amid claims that the £250k transfer fee hadn’t been paid. Surely austerity would kick in once they had formally entered the Administration process? Nope. Rangers Manager Ally McCoist was authorised by Duff and Phelps to sign Daniel Cousin to replace top scorer Nikica Jelavic.

“Daniel Cousin is shell-shocked at the moment, like the rest of us,” said McCoist. At this moment in time he is in the squad and still has an opportunity of getting the signing through. I’m still very hopeful we can get through the bits of red tape”.

The ‘bits of red tape’ McCoist referred to where actual rules that applied to Clubs in financial distress. The fact that the Administrators, whose job was to cut costs and get a favourable deal for Creditors thought it prudent to spend money on new players tells you everything you need to know about the mindset over at Govan.

So, six years on, a Club run by Finance Professionals is making the same mistakes as before; spending more than they are earning, buying players on tick and failing to pay its non-football bills. But surely the SFA will intervene? It is much more likely that the SFA will do exactly that, sweet FA, but secret meetings at Hotel Du Vin and a Four Way Agreement look likely. The spineless MSM will spin a positive picture to keep the fleeced fans on board but there will be a deduction of 15 points. Maybe Andrew Dickson, now on the SFA Congress, will use his influence at the Governing body to pass off any insolvency event as ‘imperfectly registered’ and the points deduction will not be enforced.

If Administration does not happen this week then it will only be delayed until the 21st January, when the Court Order by Lord Bannantyne on the TOP Case will come into force, and possibly see King in contempt of Court. Anyone in any doubt about how this may play out should read David Low’s excellent blog on the SFM https://www.sfm.scot/the-elephant-in-the-room/ .

“It should be appreciated that there are members of the RIFC that are members of regulated financial professions who would be further prejudiced through association with a cold-shouldered non-resident King”.

” If King does the right thing by resigning from the board, it is still important to appreciate that the ‘4 Bear’ Concert Party as determined by The Panel will continue to exist irrespective of how Kings deals with the instruction to make an offer for the shares. This is the elephant in the room that remains.”

“The Concert Party via their shares and loans will retain the same level of control they currently have, and therefore remain compelled to abide by The Panel’s rules.”

David is referring of course to the influence King has over Club 1872 and Barry Scott the new Director from Hong Kong. No matter which way he or the MSM spin this, Administration would appear the only way out, either to get rid of King, sidestep the TOP ruling somehow or to dump some debt and try and start again. As we saw in 2012, these things are never straightforward, even with a puppet MSM and a useless SFA.

What a shucking fambles.

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