The makers of American Crime Story, the quite sublime TV series who’s first instalment was a 10 part re-counting of the OJ Simpson murder trial, will air their new season early next year. It will be on the Gianni Versace killing. Believe me, that story will not be boring because it will tell the parallel tale of his murderer, Andrew Cunanan, which is a cracker.
But I will feel a pang of disappointment watching it that the epic tale season two was originally supposed to tell has been put back at least a year; the story of Hurricane Katrina, and the appalling aftermath of it.
Katrina, was, of course, a natural disaster, but peripheral to it was a gigantic multi-faceted crime.
That story will be worth waiting for.
I’ll give it to you in brief though; the storm that hit the Louisiana coast was always going to be severe, but the deaths which it caused and the wholesale flooding of New Orleans was entirely preventable. Levees were not constructed with the proper materials. Flood defences had been built on the cheap. The state government was shambolically unprepared and the national government response was staggeringly inept. In the aftermath, private contractors descended on the city, everything from private security organisations to land speculators, and they made fortunes out of the devastation that had caused at least 1800 deaths. Peripheral to this were the events at the Memorial Medical Centre, in the city, where a triage system was put in place during five Hellish days, and led to doctors actually euthanizing patients.
It is New Orleans and Katrina that I think of when I consider events at Ibrox which have already come to pass and those which might be about to come.
One of the great consequences of Katrina was that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was gutted in the aftermath.
That was because the entire upper echelon of the organisation was being run by political appointees loyal to George W. Bush, instead of being in the hands of people who knew what they were doing. The most notable example of incompetence was that of Michael D. Brown, who was the FEMA administrator. He was given overall control of the government’s response plan on 31 August 2005 and relieved of duty 12 days later with the entire effort in absolute chaos.
Bad administration is at the heart of what is about to happen at Ibrox, and you need not look further than the SFA for responsibility.
The very fact that a man they passed as “fit and proper” is about to appear in court charged with breaching an official City of London order in relation to his shareholding in the club ought to be the rope on which Regan swings.
Water is rushing down the Hampden corridors, and it’s too late for sandbags.
King’s disreputable ways, his penchant for lying, even under oath, was a matter of public record far in advance of these proceedings. Nobody in Scottish football is under the slightest illusions about who Dave King is and what he’s gotten up to down through the years. It was a shameful moment in our game’s recent history when the SFA allowed him to chair a professional club. His disgrace has become their disgrace. Their fate is now tied to his.
Hurricane King loomed on the horizon from the moment he and his concert party got their grubby mitts on the shares.
Plenty of us said at the time that it was perfectly clear that he and the so-called Three Bears were working together; the SFA had a fiduciary responsibility to investigate all this properly, and didn’t. When the City of London takeover panel issued its final report on this, after King lost his appeal, the SFA should have asked him one simple question; do you intend to comply with their instructions? Upon being told no they should have opened an immediate disciplinary case and suspended him from involvement in Scottish football.
That would not have ended the matter, of course. Other people would have had to resign, and in another administration they would have. I don’t blame King for this, you see. He’s a career criminal with only a fleeting relationship with the truth; he has simply acted according to type.
It is those who looked the other way who should be held to account.
The media doesn’t slip off the hook either, by the way. There are many in their number, Tom English and Graham Spiers amongst them, who said King should be allowed to take over the club even though he was clearly not fit and proper. Their rationale, that the club needed his money, is scandalous. The impression you get is that they would have banged the drum for drug lords had they been offering to restore the Grand Old Days of Yore.
The good of the game in this country has already been superseded enough in favour of what benefited the operation at Ibrox; the irony of all this is that the bending of rules, the ignoring of precedents and the selective amnesia shown by those running the game and those in the press has done exactly the opposite of what it was intended to do, which is to turn Sevco into something like what Rangers was before the levees burst in 2012.
In short, Scotland football has been shamed for nothing.
Sevco itself now sits in the path of a monumental gathering storm.
Their accounts are due this month.
This court case will probably finish King off as a player.
Directors who have been carrying the water here have told King they won’t continue to pay the bills … it’s hard to see how the club avoids administration at this moment in time.
In spite of rumours of others hovering, nobody is waiting in the wings to take this basket case on. The wind is whipping the trees around them and the rain is lashing down. If you watched the footage of the hurricane which struck Florida last month you’ll know that one of the defining characteristics of those events is that there’s a weird tidal effect where you can walk down the beach and not even see water. From the ramparts at Ibrox right now it must look a little bit like the tide has rolled out further than it ever has before; the trouble is that all that water is on the other side of the wind wall, waiting to roll in like a tsunami.
Who knows what’s been happening peripheral to this?
There are still major questions over how Sevco has been funded, under King, up until now.
Money from Hong Kong, its origins never explained came in. There was some, apparently, from his own personal kick although quite how he would have moved it out of Johannesburg legally with their exceptionally harsh exchange controls has never been adequately explained; our media can’t be bothered to even ask and the SFA would rather not.
King only got control in the first place by deliberately manipulating the share price with a steady leak of scandals and outside pressure; that, on its own, was probably criminal and the City of London does not exactly have him on its Best Friends Forever list.
If they want to, they can create problems for him that Jim Traynor will not be able to spin his way out of.
If the court decides King has been non-compliant – and I don’t know how they could arrive at any other conclusion – the consequences will be severe. Those who pooh-pooh the Cold Shoulder do so only because there is so little information available as to how it is applied; there’s a reason why that’s the case and it’s not that the punishment itself is toothless. In fact, it’s because the effects of it are so enormous that few risk provoking them.
Those effects will not be limited to King; they can’t be. As club chairman he would be at the centre of any future fund-raising efforts and no financial institution will touch the club with a 20 foot pole if he is in that post with that hanging over his head.
The Ibrox board will have no choice but to cut him loose. The trouble is, so much of the so-called “business plan” is underpinned by King’s alleged wealth they can’t do that without admitting that the club itself is no longer a viable commercial entity.
King has filled that board with sycophants and yes men, much as Bush filled FEMA with his own placemen. The difference is, Bush could not have known that those men would be exposed for the useless dreck they were by circumstances beyond his control. But King has deliberately flirted with disaster from the minute he took over, even allowing those incompetents to pick two managers. The first choice ended in disaster, the second looks likely to.
He has picked fights with sponsors and shirt suppliers. He has called time on good relationships because they didn’t suit his agenda. He has shrouded his club in secrecy and under the cloak of that God alone knows what he’s been up to, but one thing is for sure; to get a share issue or outside investment, he needs to lift that veil and it’s not entirely clear that’s something he could afford to do without inviting even greater problems.
It is hard to over-state just how serious all this is.
Their accounts will reveal a growing hole in the balance sheet, in stark contrast to Celtic’s growing financial strength. UEFA will be watching to see how it affects Financial Fair Play regulations, and the SFA dare not gild the lily much more than they’ve done already … too many others are watching too.
The next couple of days are going to be interesting.
Sevco fans had better get ready.
The storm we all predicted is coming, and the first rain has started to fall.