Sports Indirect

Good Afternoon.

It has been a while since The Clumpany has dwelt upon The Thoughts of Derek Johnstone.

And to be fair, he did come out with a corker the last time we peered at his column in the Evening Shark-Jump newspaper…

Commenting on Sevco’s signing of 17-year old Jordan Gibson from English ninth-tier side Alvechurch FC,  the ever-upbeat DJ offered the following jaw-dropping observation:

“I have never heard of the lad and I have never seen him play, but I like the cut of his jib straight away”.

The Clumpany is tempted to end this particular blog right there, because nothing can really top that high watermark of Fitba punditry!

But as you have taken the trouble to look in, let’s have a look at some of DJ’s latest musings…

Derek Johnstone: Rangers chairman Dave King must go softly, softly over Mike Ashley crunch talks

Be honest. You really are looking forward to hearing the views of DJ – noted commercial lawyer and retail analyst – on this matter aren’t you?

Well apparently:

“Dave King is set to arrive back in Scotland tomorrow ahead of a week of crucial club business.

And King’s most important meeting during the coming days will undoubtedly be with the representatives of Sports Direct.

The major Gers shareholder will attempt to renegotiate the terms of a key contract with Mike Ashley’s company”.

The Clumpany is immediately concerned that the Komedy King does not appear to be ‘jetting in’.

But we will let that pass

Carry on DJ….

“Dave King will have to go in with a diplomatic approach. He can’t start shouting and screaming and banging tables. The negotiations have to be amicable and professional.

He needs to explain how changing the deal could result in tens of thousands of supporters going into Sports Direct stores and spending money.

Regardless of the make-up of the contract, that could be attractive and appealing to the English businessman.

Mike Ashley’s profits went up again last year. His business continues to do really well. He doesn’t speak to anybody. Why? He doesn’t have to. He can pretty much do whatever he likes.

But that has to change. I would think the more goodwill he can generate among the general public just now the better.”

That really isn’t a very persuasive argument DJ!

And The Clumpany notes (yet again) that almost 5 months after the new regime took charge, the media is still failing to question them about why they haven’t resolved this – one way or the other – before now.

They really should be asking the board about why the long-promised ‘negotiations’ with Sports Direct have appeared so…errr… ‘indirect’…

Dangling (for the millionth time) the carrot of “we are going to do all we can to renegotiate the terms of the Sports Direct contracts” in the possible hope of selling season tickets really isn’t a very convincing position!

Especially when you apparently have nothing to offer Mr Ashley in terms of repaying the £5m Sports Direct loan: a point which DJ completely ignores!

Indeed, DJ sets out Mr King’s stall – as described to Jim White a few days ago

“Dave King remains adamant that he can talk to him [Ashley] and renegotiate the existing deal so that it becomes more favourable for Rangers.

The only way supporters are going to go back into Sports Direct stores in large numbers is if they feel their club is getting something out of it.

Something has to be done. Rangers fans have to know the Ibrox club is getting a fair return from the money they spend.”

But then DJ renders the argument redundant by explaining

“Ashley could turn around and say: “No, we’re quite happy with the status quo, I don’t care if nobody buys the merchandise.” That will be hard for Rangers to take.

But I do think it could be in the interest of both parties if an agreement they were both happy with could be reached and the contracts changed.”


So Ashley could well have no good reason to give up anything that Sevco signed up to…  But DJ has a feeling it could be in everyone’s interests for him to relent.

And to relent to a board and Chairman that haven’t exactly been friendly towards him…


But just as you might be tempted to think that DJ has pinned his colours to the twin masts of ‘fan spending’ and ‘a Mike Ashley Miracle’, he makes a few comments that might make uncomfortable reading for the King regime…

Having discussed Sevco’s commercial relationship with Sports Direct, and briefly compared it with the position at Celtic he says:

“It is very, very hard for Rangers to compete. That is why they need private investors to come in and put money in. There is only so much the fans can do.”

“The Rangers fans have dug deep for the last four years. There is only so much more they can do. Hopefully an agreement can be reached.”

Only so much more the fans can do?

A need for private investors?

That sounds like a hint that Mr King and his boardroom colleagues should open the war chest and live up to their earlier rhetoric about doing ‘whatever it takes’!

Thankfully DJ is extremely well connected in the Scottish media.

So the lads at the Evening Shark-Jump and elsewhere will surely be willing to challenge Mr King – in person – about the war chest while he is in Glasgow next week.

Won’t they?


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