My much-loved alter ego Phil Mac Giolla Bhain predicted that some sort of feelgood story for the ursine masses might be imminent following the publication of some slightly ‘glum’ accounts last Friday by the Sevco Engine Room Subsidiary (brought to you in association with Martin Williams).
Now it might be a coincidence, but Gary Ralston of the Daily Record today brought us the remarkable tidings that His Big Mikeness might be ‘forced’ to sell his stake in RIFC. An eventuality that would certainly enthral Sevco fans near and… well, near.
The story goes that should Ashley’s Newcastle United be relegated from the Premier League, it would become subject to the rules of the Football League, which has much stricter rules about owning an interest in two different ‘clubs’. And as a result His Big Mikeness may have to sell. [Assuming he would prefer to hang on to Newcastle United rather than a small stake in the World’s Most Hilarious Tribute Act.]
The ‘story’ is – at best – an exercise in kite-flying. Newcastle haven’t yet been relegated and there would be many matters to consider – and processes to be gone through – before the Football League would take a view on HBM’s investment in the holding company of a Scottish football ‘club’.
Quite why Mr Ralston chose to bring us these speculative tidings today when Newcastle United have been circling the Premier League drain for some time is anyone’s guess. Strangely, the issue of a potentially ‘forced sale’ of HBM’s shares was never mentioned when The Record previously dwelt upon Newcastle United and dual ownership issues:
It should be noted that the above article was predicated on the assumption that both Newcastle and Sevco qualified for Europe in the same season, with Sevco qualifying for the Champions League…
I must admit that – overall – I am inclined to treat Mr Ralston’s substance-light piece with some scepticism. Yes, the Football League does have stricter rules on ‘dual ownership’ than the Premier League, and you can see them by clicking here. However, the crucial phrase within them seems to be “without the prior written consent of the Board”. His Big Mikeness and Newcastle United have not been subject to the jurisdiction of the Football League since MASH Holdings acquired shares in RIFC, and it may well be that the Board will be happy to grant its consent to MASH owing them while HBM continues to rule the roost at Newcastle.
And even if they don’t, how likely is it that HBM is likely to roll over, accept it, and sell his shares anytime soon?
Let us not forget that HBM has been prepared to go to the trouble of taking the SFA to court seeking judicial review of a £1,000 fine for contravening their dual ownership rules. He is also currently staring down a House Of Commons Committee which has summoned him to appear before them under threat of a (very rare) charge of Contempt of Parliament.
One way or another, His Big Mikeness does not seem the type to be pushed into doing anything that he doesn’t want to. Consequently, I suspect that he won’t be selling his shares in RIFC under duress any time soon.
Nevertheless, we should still salute the Daily Record and Mr Ralston for their Ashley/Sevco-related coverage. They have great form in that regard. Who can forget the memorable Gary Ralston piece of 20 May 2015, which was titled “Mike Ashley won’t see his £5 million off Dave King any time soon”, and which stated:
“Don’t be surprised if Ashley is challenged in the coming months over the validity and legality of his Rangers contracts like he has never been challenged before.
Who knows, rather than being in hock to the Cockney billionaire to the tune of £5 million, Rangers just might argue he actually owes them. Ashley will not see his £5m any time soon as King is determined to expose deals he already believe throw up more questions than answers”
Oh dear. Oh dear me…
You can read more about that amazing piece in my Twin Peaks-themed offering from the time (which, incidentally is still my favourite of the 398 blogs that I have scrawled. Not that you should care!).
And who could ever forget one of the truly great tweets of 2015? A tweet from the Record family that was so action-packed with police activity that it was like watching an episode of The Sweeney in 140 characters.
I love a good laugh.