If you run a commercial enterprise of any description, there will be points during the year when it is particularly important to engage with your customers.
To enthuse them, to remind them of why you figure in their lives, and to get them to – quite literally – buy into your product.
In short: to part with their hard-earned cash.
For much of the retail industry that period is the run-up to Christmas and the so-called ‘January sales’.
For a football club it is season ticket sales time.
The mission for those running the ‘club’ is to grab fans by the scruff of the neck, tell them how things are going to be brilliant, and get them to part with their money.
In Scotland, where the streets are not exactly awash with TV revenues [Hello Mr Doncaster!], the season ticket is…errr… king when planning a club’s finances for the upcoming season.
So you need to get the launch – and the narrative underpinning it – absolutely right.
It is even more important to do this if you are a ‘club’ surviving on hand-to-mouth loans, with a tiny grizzled squad, and which is facing an unexpected second season in the second tier.
Bearing all that in mind, today promised to bring Big News from Sevconia!
Dave King, conqueror of His Big Mikeness, heartthrob of the MSM, the Realest of the Really Real Rangers Men WAS GOING TO DO A PRESS CONFERENCE!
This would be to launch
1690/1 2015/16 season tickets and to talk about his ‘vision’ for the ‘club’.
This was bound to be good! Colours nailed to the mast, clarity a-plenty, and possibly a glimpse of an actual war chest.
The beleaguered Sevconian ranks would then feel compelled to rush out and snap up their season tickets for the resumption of ‘The Journey’.
Even the most confident Timmy was bound to flee to the hills, fearing the Awesome Might of ‘The Plan’.
And the entire world was set to become a giant Stuart McCall tribute act as it collectively developed goosebumps at the Glorious Majesty of the transfer budget.
And what happened?
Well, it was all mesmerising. I will give King that.
But as an exercise in spelling out a compelling well-funded vision that would inspire People to buy a season ticket, it was utterly abysmal.
Dave King and a few people who happened to be passing through the Crumbledome wafted a card around in a photo opportunity notable only for the prophetic sight of massed ranks of empty seats.
And then there was the press conference.
Oh the press conference…
I will leave you to watch it back – in full – at your leisure.
But the key points included:
- Season tickets are to increase in price by 5% and King hopes they will sell out.
- A hope of a re-listing shares in a few months. King has ‘a meeting’ to discuss this later in the week.
- No progress in changing the commercial relationship with Sports Direct. However, it still needs to change.
- No managerial appointment this week (as we had been led to believe by sections of the media). It is more likely to be next week.
- There are apparently 5 candidates in the frame to be the Sevco manager, one of which is Mr McCall.
- Ally is still on the payroll and entitled to the remuneration specified in his contract.
- A significant number of players have now left, and the ‘club’ is looking for a new Captain.
None of the above amounted to ‘substantive news’ or moved the Sevco story on from where it stood at the weekend
The intrepid press pack did not exactly push Mr King, although they did ask a number of questions about the scale of investment to be made into the ‘club’.
And it was on this matter that the press conference provided its most interesting moments.
Time and again Mr King would not be drawn on when he (or anyone else) would be putting money into Sevco, or how much. All he would say was that it depended on Season Ticket sales, the relationship with Sports Direct and “whether we repay the £5 million loan”.
He did offer the fans a few soothing words, saying:
“As a fan obviously I wish we were up, but from a business point of view it’s not all doom and gloom spending another year in the Championship.”
“They can trust board, and I’m hoping they can be co-investors in the club.”
No one asked Mr King how Sevco planned to pay for a new manager and quickly build up a squad without some money NOW. i.e. before the season ticket money begins to come in.
This would seem to be a crucial point, especially as King spoke of Sevco needing to win the Championship comfortably, and to be in a position to compete strongly in the Premiership the year after.
Indeed, he spoke of “over-investment” over the next three years to achieve this. When asked what he meant, King said he meant spending more at this stage than originally envisaged. He did not specify quite how much he and others had originally envisaged spending at this stage.
One brave soul in the press pack asked King if there was any plan to reduce running costs. King said that they were looking at increasing running costs.
At that point, the Clumpany’s jaw hit the floor. It is one thing to fail to learn from the mistakes of the past, but quite another to appear inclined to embrace them.
It would be fair to say that “sustainable” was not a word that figured prominently in the press conference, and there were a couple of occasions where the tone of our esteemed press pack hinted that they might be thinking “did he really just say that?”
Asked about his previous comments on the financial strength of Sevco, King confirmed that this remained his view. He pointed to its lack of debts [aside from monies owed to Sports Direct, the Three Bears and yourself, eh Dave?…] and said it was debt free “by default”.
Some might say that this ‘same club’ is actually ‘free’ of debts THROUGH default rather than by default.
276 creditors for example…
My previous blog wondered whether we might have the answers to a number of questions by the end of the day.
Answers that would satisfy the curiosity of the obsessed, inform the ‘long-suffering’ Sevco fans, and reassure us all that the Mighty PretendyGers – on whose future success the fate of the universe hangs – had a bright future.
The Clumpany didn’t expect to end up any the wiser, and so it proved to be.
But at least I’m not one of the People being asked to pay 5% more to buy into vague aspirations.
That really would be disappointing.
Now, about Celtic’s football brand being ranked 34th in the world, with a value of £79m….