The Clumpany would love to have been a fly on the wall when last night’s gripping statement from Dave King was written.
It would have been interesting to get a better idea of its intended purpose and the immediate context in which it was written. We are told it was simply intended to update the fans (and shareholders?!) on RIFC’s attempts to get a better commercial deal with Sports Direct.
But why issue the update now?
Is there something in the background that prompted the regime to want to draw fans’ attention to the Sports Direct relationship rather than 0ther things?
Perhaps not, but it would be interesting to know. It would also have been fascinating to hear the conversation which took place about the precise style and content of the statement. I wonder – for example -whether the following words were uttered at any point?
“We really should include some comparative references to your own career in business when commenting on Sports Direct”.
“Yes Dave, this is a really strong statement that will galvanise the fans and show the media that we ‘mean business'”.
“Mike Ashley and Sports Direct are going to worry when they see this. They will want to negotiate because they won’t like the bad publicity”.
Because if these sorts of things were said, you can only applaud all concerned for delivering a complete success.
Because no one – absolutely no one – is laughing at the statement this morning.
This excellent piece from James Forrest takes the King statement apart in systematic fashion and is well worth a read.
I won’t repeat its many great points, but I will make the following observations
Firstly, Sports Direct did not slap a “gagging order” on RIFC directors. They simply enforced the confidentiality provisions in the contracts [hat-tip to James Doleman for pointing this out].
Secondly, following on from the various fans’ protests – which included the famous ‘offering £1 for a pile of products’ initiative – Sports Direct must have been shaken to its core by the letters which Dave King has sent them. I’ll be looking out for a collapse in the Sports Direct share price today, and studying the exchanges for a soaring of RIFC shares. Oh wait…
Thirdly, I wonder what the 276 stiffed creditors of the ‘same club’ made of a former Rangers (IL) Director speaking of a public company appearing “unconcerned with other stakeholders – partners or otherwise”.
Fourthly, if Sports Direct are playing hardball, or (as they might see it) ‘enforcing their contractual rights’, it might be because they have a duty to their shareholders. A duty to NOT give away £5m of their money and simply surrender a profitable retail deal because Dave doesn’t like it!
Fifthly, King says “It remains my intention to ensure that Sports Direct is legally and financially held accountable for its failures”. Fair enough Dave. However, his regime has now had almost 8 months to make progress in resolving its concerns over the Sports Direct commercial deal and loan. If things have reached an impasse, why not take legal action? Surely the war chest has some capacity for this?
Perhaps not, for King states that “Sports Direct continues to litigate with the Club in an attempt to enforce its wishes and demands. This seems based on the simple logic that Sports Direct can outspend the Club in legal fees and thereby deal with the Club as it pleases.”.
If King feels that legal action is a lost cause (for whatever reason), why not trigger the 7 year notice period to end the relationship? It is a long time, but at least it would be decisive and allow everyone to move on, eventually.
Finally, it is worth noting a couple of points in this Evening Shark-Jump piece on the Dave King statement.
The piece refers to “Ashley, who in June snubbed the Extraordinary General Meeting he had called in a bid to force the Light Blues board to repay the £5million loan he agreed with the former Gers regime in January”.
‘Snubbed’, eh? That may be emotive language, but His Big Mikeness was under no obligation to attend the meeting, and Mash Holdings issued a detailed statement prior to the EGM explaining why they had called it.
Oh yes, and let us not forget that Chairman King didn’t attend the meeting either. Why? Because he was meeting Sports Direct to discuss the commercial relationship with RIFC!
And as for the Evening Shark-Jump referring to the £5m loan having been “agreed with the former Gers* regime”… I suspect HBM might take the view that it was agreed with RIFC, and although the directors may have changed, RIFC is still there and still a party to the agreement.
What happens next? Who knows. But HBM hasn’t previously shown any signs of relenting in his determination to hold RIFC to their commitments as he sees them.
Perhaps Dave King’s sabre-rattling will cause him to change his mind this time?
Then again, perhaps other matters may ultimately take precedence. According to a number of commentators, Sevco needs to find external finance – and perhaps rather quickly – if it is to see out the season.
That sounds rather serious and I am sure Dave King is addressing it right now.
Hopefully there will be a statement about it…
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