Media, Scottish Football, Sevco

Heading North, Or Going South?

Good Evening. 

We know for certain that PR operations have no impact on the output of the media sports desks in Scotland. 

Slammed Doors and Unanswered Calls

So it is simply my warped imagination that conjured up an image of Keith Jackson typing his latest piece, getting half way through, spotting the frowning picture of Jim Traynor which is nailed to his desk…and then hastily rewriting parts of it. 😉

Because the piece in question was a curious affair, and representative of a number of wider points which I shall explore below.

On the face of it, Keith’s article made some quite pointed observations about Dave King apparently not backing Warbo in the transfer market. It picked up where Scott McDermott left off yesterday, although Keith went into quite some detail when describing exactly where Leeds-bound Toumani Diagouraga would have fitted into Warbo’s masterplan.

“In Championship terms, this represents something of a snip and – if indeed that is confirmed as the final price – Warburton will be smarting at seeing this one get away.

He desperately wanted to secure a specialist defensive midfield operator during the January sales. Not only does his team lack experience in that area but Warburton also wishes to unshackle Andy Halliday and deploy him further upfield throughout the second half of the campaign.

In his mind’s eye, a trio of Diagouraga, Halliday and Jason Holt would have provided his engine room with the balance it requires.”

And Keith came pretty close to actual criticism of King when discussing Sevco’s interest in St Johnstone’s Michael O’Halloran:

“This dowdy world of financial reality is sharply contradicted by King’s own fluffy rhetoric, some of which is in danger of seeming fanciful and – if O’Halloran is not tied down in the next few days – maybe even disingenuous.

Since bursting his way into the boardroom to liberate his football club from a long line of charlatans, King has spoken of a potential need for ‘over investment’ during the January transfer window.

Back in September, after seeing Celtic land another of Warburton’s targets from Hibs, King talked of recruiting as many as ‘five or six Scott Allans’ before next season begins.

Of course, even before he completed his takeover, King had expressed an intention to plough upwards of £30m of his own cash into the rebuild and it’s these hubristic manifesto boasts which jarred at the senses last week when Diagouraga disappeared in a puff of Massimo Cellino’s cigar smoke.”

“As it stands, there is a deal to be done here [for O’Halloran] for around £500,000 – a sum that hardly touches the sides of King’s previous financial projections.”

But ultimately he pulled his punches. And in rewarding style!

Keith reminded us that King had “liberated” “his” “club” from “a long line of charlatans”, although it was not made clear whether that line stretched back to the members of the final board of ‘same club’ Rangers, which was liquidated owing millions in 2012… 

I wonder why?

He then embarked on a series of observations that would have been music to the ears of the Sevco board.

“To King’s credit, much good has been achieved over the last 10 months to repair years of grotesque corporate vandalism. As a result, today’s Rangers are in a far more robust shape than the basketcase he discovered upon entry.

Enormous amounts of money have been pumped into the club account by King and a number of his allies and it’s estimated that so far, including cash spent on shares and in repaying Mike Ashley’s £5m loan, the running total stands close to £15m. King’s share of this net spend is believed to be north of £7m.

Perhaps most commendable of all has been King’s willingness to stare down one of the world’s wealthiest men in Ashley for the good of his club and to stand firm even when the formidable Sports Direct founder was attempting to have him thrown into a jail cell for his insubordination.”

Wow. Just wow!

The Clumpany would like to know more about the “much good” that has been done over the past 10 months. Because it doesn’t include getting a Nomad, securing a listing, renegotiating the terms of the Sports Direct commercial relationship, or refraining from using intimidating  rhetoric towards other ‘clubs’. 

It has, however, included having an injunction ‘slapped’ on various Directors to ensure that the commercial confidentiality of the Sports Direct contracts was observed, and the striking down of an AGM resolution that would have removed the voting rights of His Big Mikeness.

I would also like to know how a loans-based existence and a going concern warning in the accounts equates to the ‘club’ being in “a far more robust shape”.

And as for King’s share of the “net spend” (i.e. “loans which somehow have to be repaid or converted to equity”) being “believed to be north of £7m”… I assume that Keith has asked to see some proof of that from the people who suggested it… Because it is quite a striking amount!

But by far my favourite assertion of the day was King’s apparent “willingness to stare down one of the world’s wealthiest men in Ashley for the good of his club.”

Once again we are back to that recurring ludicrous image of the heroic Sevconian standing firm in the middle of an epic siege, aren’t we? I must have missed the ‘standing firm’ bit of King’s strategy when he decided that Sevco should repay the £5m loan that he had previously indicated wasn’t really a loan, and which should be considered ‘holistically’ alongside the Sports Direct commercial relationship.

Keith’s latest piece ultimately went all over the place. It initially seemed inclined to haul the King regime over the coals for not splashing the expected cash on players, but then couldn’t bring itself to be genuinely critical, before finally being pretty upbeat about the overall wider picture.

That said, even this critique-lite was enough to work up some Sevconians into a frenzy this morning. Perhaps unsurprisingly, a number of People on Twitter found incredible levels of fault in the very idea that the Magnificent Progress of the Glorious King Regime could be open to question.

It was a microcosm of an all-too familiar scenario: a journalist fails to weep with joy at the Awe-Inspiring Brilliance of Everything Happening at Ibrox, and is then taken to task for clearly wanting to do the ‘club’ down.

Keith got off relatively lightly this morning. Those who have gone to the trouble of pointing out substantial problems or difficulties at an Ibrox club – or who have spoken blindingly-obvious truths about liquidation – have faced far worse from a small but worrying minority. The list of shame includes threats, intimidation and demands for sackings which embarrass the very ‘club’ these folk purport to love, as well as Scotland and the wider UK.

It is a mindset that only seems to want information if it is the right kind of information. And it is a pattern of behaviour that betrays a peculiarly insecure sense of superiority. It seemingly craves your attention so that you can be gloated at. But Heaven forbid that you should pay attention in order to ask questions or point out any of Sevco’s shortcoming. That might get you branded a ‘hater’. Or worse.

As many others have observed, we have a curious situation in Scottish football. There are lots of important questions, and a large and diverse population who want answers. That ought to make for a vibrant public debate. But at the same time we have a minority (not exclusively confined to Sevco fans) who will only tolerate hearing the ‘right sort’ of answers, and sections of the mainstream media who – for whatever reason -are only prepared to engage in a partial way. 

This is not a very heathy situation for either Scottish football or society. And it is no wonder that so many of us end up heading to the refuge of social media for our news and discourse.

Is it?



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