It is happening again.
As predicted yesterday, following the SFA’s ‘Fit and Proper’ approval of Dave King, the media fawning and spin is underway.
It started off gently enough. Gary Keown of the Evening Times told us that
The use of the word “pour”, and the headline “Dave’s pledge on cash as SFA give all-clear to be Rangers chairman” seemed to enthusiastically imply a sizeable contribution to Sevco’s finances.
However, we should remember that the scale of his planned input has never been pinned down, with the man himself mentioning a different (generally reducing) figure nearly every time.
Indeed, as STV reported last night, there was a hitherto unknown possibility of King not contributing very much at all if he had not been approved by the SFA. Kudos to STV for bringing us a genuinely interesting and timely bit of news in the Sevco saga!
Meanwhile, Keith Jackson’s piece about King in the Daily Record was headlined with dramatic talk of “vow”, “jetting in” and “coronation”.
However, the most interesting part was the quotes from King which might give cause to doubt the degree to which the new regime has a fully-funded and detailed plan ready to roll out.
“I had given an undertaking to the SFA that I wouldn’t work as a shadow director so we’ve really been very precise that I didn’t get involved in the affairs of the club”.
“It’s going to take me a couple of days to find out what has happened and we then have to sit down and start planning for the future, get the budgets in place, get proper funding plans in place and carry out what we have promised to do for the fans.”
So his allies have been in place since early March and he doesn’t know what has been happening? And they need to start planning for the future, and getting the budgets and proper funding plans in place?
Start! Not ‘continue’, ‘further-develop’ or even ‘implement’. They need to start.
I seem to recall one Fergus McCann being ever so slightly more well-prepared when he rode to the rescue of Celtic all those years ago… Oh well!
The Record also states that King isn’t “remotely concerned” about His Big Mikeness’ request for an EGM,
“and when asked if Gers had the cash to pay off the Sports Direct Tycoon he said: “Of course we do. It has always been part of the plan, it’s just a question of whether it’s the appropriate thing to do””
The appropriate thing to do, eh? At first I wondered whether King was referring to whether it was appropriate to repay the money right now, and was hoping that some sort of accommodation could be reached with HBM.
But then I read today’s extraordinary piece from Gary Ralston. ‘Lambtastic’ doesn’t do it justice. As a piece of pro-King spin it is epic. As a piece of journalistic endeavour it is truly ‘memorable’.
The piece is titled “Mike Ashley won’t see his £5 million off Dave King any time soon” and tells us
“Don’t be surprised if Ashley is challenged in the coming months over the validity and legality of his Rangers contracts like he has never been challenged before.
Who knows, rather than being in hock to the Cockney billionaire to the tune of £5 million, Rangers just might argue he actually owes them
Ashley will not see his £5m any time soon as King is determined to expose deals he already believe throw up more questions than answers”
Hang on. Didn’t we get all this ‘scrutinising and challenging contracts’ shtick at the time of the EGM? What have they been doing since early March?
Ralston also seems tempted to make a virtue of King’s tax convictions (no really…), referring to
“the likelihood of a long court battle, from which King will not flinch. After all, he spent 12 years staring down the South African tax authorities before cutting a deal in 2013 that saw him ultimately convicted of 41 tax convictions, forking out more than £44m in a deal he later described as “a favourable settlement””
We are then treated to some thoughts on what the ‘rebuilding programme’ at Sevco might look like:
“although a new rights issue will be launched in time, it is more of a medium term project, with immediate financing from King and his supporters most likely on a debt-for-equity basis.”
“The structure behind the scenes at Ibrox also needs to be addressed with a strong executive management team likely to be put in place in the coming weeks.”
“The current Rangers board is also politically lightweight. It would come as no surprise if King beefs up his team with more blue chip appointments”
It will be interesting to see what calibre of “blue chip appointments” a company that can’t secure a listing, and which is currently surviving on loans will attract.
But Ralston’s words serve a purpose. They are soothing and indicative of a plan that will make everything OK. It’s what Sevco fans want to hear, and its what they and large parts of the media and football administrators want to believe.
And that’s the most important thing if you are selling newspapers in Scotland, right?
Mr Ralston concludes his piece by taking us through the “unprecedented” scrutiny King experienced in securing his ‘Fit and Proper’ approval.
We are reminded AGAIN that Lawwell and Petrie were on the Board that made the decision, and yet again there is no mention of the presence of Ogilvie and Regan. One a former Rangers Director, and the other a man who warned of dire consequences if Sevco were not given a leg-up in 2012…
Mr Ralston continues
“He also produced testimonies from the Court of Session, SARS, his bankers and other government agencies in support of his application. Indeed, most of King’s business is done with the South African government and if he was so disgraced in his adopted homeland they would be unlikely to grant him the bulk of his work”
“King has been the subject of such intense scrutiny, including SFA lawyers who have examined with a microscope the veracity and competence of his claims to be appointed a Rangers director.”
A microscope? Don’t go exaggerating there Gary…
Although Ralston says that all this scrutiny was right, he can’t seem to stop himself from taking a pop at the SFA:
“King will no doubt look on with interest in seasons to come and see if others who are willing to invest in Scottish football are subject to the same vigorous level of investigation.The SFA have set a benchmark in their dealings with King. They will surely show consistency in similar dealings in future”
Mr Ralston would do well to reflect that the level of scrutiny give to King had nothing to do with whether he was going to invest in the game. But it did have everything to do with
- his tax convictions; and
- role on the board of a club that went to the wall owing millions and apparently brought Scottish football to the brink of ‘Armageddon’.
I am sure that if another Dave King comes along, he will be treated in just the same way as Dave King.
Whereas other candidates will be considered according to their own circumstances
It would have been interesting to see what
the PR machine’s Gary Ralston’s reaction would have been had King been rejected by the SFA. Tears before bedtime no doubt.
In conclusion, I think it is fair to say that the lamb-entable Sevco/King PR spin has already gone up a notch. And it is only going to get worse!
Keep your wits about you and question everything you are told. And please,
Oh, and why not have a little dance too?