Ethereal Leadership

“I don’t want to hear it, Paul.
*I’m* the chairman, and that CLEARLY means that I don’t chair General Meetings”

Good Afternoon.

Yesterday’s piece about the Sevco EGM  mentioned that the Komedy King had not been present to chair it. It seemed a bit odd, but Baron Bouffant reassured us that he was away on ‘club business’.

Maybe he was at the meeting to discuss securing a listing for RIFC shares, which he mentioned earlier in the week?

But guess what some of the subsequent headlines were about?

Yes, they were about “Ashley the no-show”.

Mike Ashley is (outrageously) not pictured
Mike Ashley is (outrageously) not pictured

And they were also about the poor shareholders not getting ‘answers’

“Rangers fans fume as questions go unanswered at Ibrox EGM following Mike Ashley gagging order”

Well what about the answers sought by His Big Mikeness? Who also happens to be a shareholder. Quite a significant one as it happens.

You will struggle to find much MSM analysis of whether HBM got his answers, and why he felt the need to go to courts in London and Edinburgh to protect commercial confidentiality.

The prospect of HBM actually going to the meeting himself was always extremely remote. Not even the most ‘perturbed’ of Sevconians could have expected that.

Although the highly-successful retail mogul wants to protect his business and reputation, with the best will in the world, his Sevco interests won’t even cause a flicker on his ‘Actual Priority’ meter…

Not a flicker
Not a flicker

The absence of any MASH or Sports Direct representatives from the EGM, was perhaps a little more surprising. But as I suggested yesterday, there was no need for them to be there.

HBM had already set out his concerns, sent a shot across the bows of the Sevco board, and made them squirm in public. He had also given RIFC and its shareholders every chance to decide to repay the £5m loan.

We will now have to wait and see what happens following the announcement of the shareholder vote on Monday.

“Hmmm. Perhaps I should just give Sevco a billion pounds to go and win the Championship next season?”

Meanwhile, Chris Jack took the opportunity to have a pop at HBM:

“Instead of spurious GM calls and court cases, it should come down to the negotiating table as Rangers and Ashley look to find a way to live together in this unhappy marriages. It is the battle of the men who love the shirts and the guy who wants to sell the jerseys”.

Spurious, eh? The RIFC Company Secretary and senior judges in England and Scotland certainly didn’t think so Chris!

Queuing up for a spurious exercise
Queuing up for a spurious exercise

The Record also (hilariously) wanted to give the impression that there was cause for angst:

“Fans were left infuriated after a Sports Direct lorry pulled up outside the club’s superstore in the morning.

The huge vehicle, emblazoned with the firm’s livery on the side, was apparently delivering merchandise including replica tops and scarves – which many supporters have vowed not to buy until the club severs its ties with sportswear tycoon Ashley”

An extremely provocative lorry
An extremely provocative lorry

But you will struggle to find criticism of King in the MSM. As the man himself has made clear, this is a critical juncture for the ‘club’ and you might therefore expect him to want to lead from the front by chairing the meeting.

The always-thought-provoking Barcabhoy wrote a very interesting piece  on TSFM about King’s absence, and the Clumpany encourages you to read it.

It got the Clumpany thinking. [A rare occurrence…]

King’s absence might well have been to attend to some mission-critical business which precluded spending an hour in Glasgow. And there is no doubt that Baron Bouffant put in an exemplary Chairmanly performance in his stead.

However, it could be argued that the absence is another manifestation of King (and his regime) failing to show robust leadership since they swept to ‘power’ in early March.

Even though King couldn’t take up his directorship prior to approval from the Court of Session, there have been numerous things that he and his colleagues might have done to show leadership over the past three months.

That they were firmly ‘in charge’ and determined to do things differently.

Yep. Definitely determined to do things differently.
Yep. Definitely determined to do things differently.

Like – for example – paying off the Sports Direct loan as soon as possible after the EGM (assuming they had the funds to do so…) What a signal that would have sent out about their commitment, money, and willingness to effect change!

But no… It didn’t happen.

King and co might also have put an end to the embarrassing spectacle of Ally remaining on the payroll (assuming they had the money to do so…). Even if they had to pay him off in full, it would have been welcome decisive action.

Nor did King attend the crucial play-off tie against Motherwell – the most important game in the club’s short history.

Nor did he (or Murray) issue a reassuring statement about how ‘things would still be OK’ following the defeat by Motherwell.

Nor has he appeared to be on top of the detail of the club’s financial/contractual position OR the details of the plan/finances they are going to deploy to build a bright new future.

Of course appearances can be deceptive and I stand ready to be proved wrong.

However, the media engagements have been painful(ly funny) to watch, and King is perhaps fortunate that Sevco doesn’t have a hostile press pack pursuing it otherwise they might have been total car crashes.

“Right Jim, what should I say next?”

It has all been deeply unimpressive stuff, and the letter to fans two days ago was yet another example of the substance-free bluster that is increasingly characterising the regime.

Perhaps most crucially of all, King and co might have adopted a more conciliatory tone in their approach to HBM and Sports Direct. Good leadership should incorporate magnanimity and (don’t laugh) humility when required.

It would have been quite impressive (and possibly more likely to engender tolerance from Sports Direct) if the new regime had made constructive noises about the value they place on the commercial partnership, and acknowledge that Sports Direct cash has been keeping the lights on at their beloved ‘club’.

The grievances about the retail deal would still have been there, but they could have been discussed in a grown-up fashion behind closed doors.

Sadly, the new regime seemed unwilling or unable to move away from the pre-March EGM rhetoric where HMB, Sports Direct, Llambias and Leach were deemed fair game for all kinds of public criticism.

In the medium to long-term this could turn out to be a strategic error of major proportions.

And as for yesterday’s EGM, it would indeed have been a basic courtesy to the shareholders (and shown leadership to the ‘club’) for King to have chaired the meeting himself.

After all, he has known about it for weeks. And diaries can nearly always be juggled for something deemed to be a priority.

Chairman King originally planned to attend the EGM, and make a grand entrance.  It didn't go according to plan
Chairman King originally planned to attend the EGM, and make a grand entrance.
But it didn’t go according to plan…

King and his colleagues obviously love the entity playing out of Ibrox, and seem to have craved taking control of it.

However, if you look back at what has transpired since March, you find yourself asking

“what’s the point of being in a position of leadership if you aren’t actually going to lead?”

Over to you, Dave.