Amidst the general slabbering over a deal that will see very little overall impact on Sevco’s finances, not to mention giving the Gullibillies the imperative to hand Ashley their money after many of them avowed never to do that, there was an announcement which did matter.
King told the media that the club’s transfer splurge is being funded by continuing shareholder loans. I can’t stress enough how ridiculous that is. It takes a great big piss on financial fair play rules. Even if it’s true – and I take it with a very big pinch of salt, because I don’t believe for a minute that everyone sitting around the boardroom table at Ibrox is as stupid enough to keep shelling out their own money to keep this ship of fools afloat whilst King grandstands and takes the glory – it is just wrong. It is just ridiculous.
UEFA regulations could not be more explicit on this. Shareholders are not allowed to fund clubs except in one circumstance; when they are getting shares in exchange for the money. It has to be converted to equity. FFP is written to stop exactly this kind of thing. If it hadn’t been there would be nothing to stop the Qatari heads of Manchester City building a World XI. As much as City spends right now, FFP acts as a major restriction on them.
Sevco seems to operate under no such restrictions, and as long as Scotland does not have such regulations and the SFA is content to wave clubs through UEFA licensing in spite of their behaviour, they will continue to have none.
Sevco is not a stock market listed club, and I do not believe they will be as long as Dave King is in charge of the club. It is not in their interests. They want to run their club behind a veil of secrecy, with no genuine scrutiny to speak of. A listing on the LSE, or even on AIM, would necessitate more openness, and would allow people greater access to the facts and figures and the actual makeup of the corporate structure over there.
The SFA is not interested in that at all. And that’s dangerous. Because if they aren’t prepared to give clubs a proper once over it is a matter of time – if we’re not already there – before organised crime is using Scottish football clubs to launder money or worse.
Who really knows how Sevco’s transfer splurge is being funded?
The idea that it’s coming out of the pockets of directors is fairly unbelievable, but that leaves only the spending of the season ticket money and either way there’s no sustainability to this at all.
Selling last year’s shirts at a deep discount – considering what I wrote earlier – isn’t going to deliver a pot of gold, no matter what their more gullible supporters believe. The manufacturers take such a substantial cut of shirt sales that there’s a couple of million at most in that even in a good scenario.
One Sevco fan last night told me – apparently in all seriousness – that they’d make the rest of the money from the sale of the other stuff in the stores, as if there was an enormous mark-up and profit to be made on rubber ducks and fridge magnets.
Let me tell you; nobody ever bought a penthouse selling that cheap tat from a few shops and an online shop. Who is their target clientele for God’s sake? Has the North Korean military ordered 1.2 million Second Best Club In Glasgow mugs?
The most any of the Glasgow clubs has ever made – net profit – on merchandise was us. And that was posted in the last two years; £4.6 million in total. And we get that primarily because we own our own merchandising rights. We’re not splitting it with somebody else, as Sevco will have to do.
Our actual merchandising income was over £12 million last year … we netted just over one third of that because of overheads, costs and the like and we didn’t have to split the proceeds that were left – the gross profit – with a retailer, like they’ll have to.
King has said one honest, one truthful, thing in the whole time he’s been at Ibrox and this bears repeating over and over and over again; if they are going to catch Celtic, in the end it is the fans themselves who have to front up the money to do it.
And you know what? Even when they were following Rangers, they showed no ability to outperform us in terms of their spending power, and our club’s earning potential. King goes on about that too, about how they “traditionally outspent us” but it’s absolute bollocks as the numbers prove, and which I’ve gone over again and again.
I’ve written extensively on the enormous financial gap that existed between Celtic and Rangers; for all King’s bluster it was real, and it was always in our favour. We consistently outperformed their club, by every commercial measure, for the last twenty years in which it existed. They only stayed competitive at all because of the largesse of the bank that was funding it and the tax fraud which underpinned that. Otherwise they’d have been nowhere.
That gap was unbridgeable. Sevco’s earning power is perhaps half that of Rangers.
It will take them a decade or longer to bring it back up to that level, and by then we’ll have income streams from the Celtic Village project and God knows what else on top of the structural advantage we already hold. They can forget about catching us. It won’t happen.
We are the undisputed giants of Scottish football. We are the only club which even remotely has the infrastructure necessary to be a European giant. Even if their club reaches the level which Rangers attainted – frequently earning between £35 million and £40 million in revenues – our club considers earnings of £50 million to be an unreasonably bad year. Over the last 15 years there have been three occasions when our earnings have been in excess of £70 million, and last season will almost certainly rank as another; it’s not inconceivable that we could hit the £80 million mark for that one. This year, if we reach the Groups, it’s liable to be higher still.
Social media is full of celebration and joy over this; they can have their wee moment. They’ve got new players and a new manager. They believe their club is in good hands. They’ve forgotten King’s entire career or lies and deception and fraud.
They’ve forgotten that they believed the same about Green, and Whyte before him and Murray before any of them …
Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.
Those words have never been more apt. And if they want to see, for a second, what it is that we see when we look at them, give those words a contemporary twist and put their current predicament into context, shorn of all the hype and the spin and the nonsense of the last 24 hours or so.
Buy the new strip. Same as the old strip.
That’s the level of the con.
That’s how gullible they actually are.