I got an interesting email the other day from a friend of mine who assures me that the trouble at Sevco is beginning to reach crisis point. Boardroom divisions are now entrenched and there are people who simply can’t agree with one another on the way forward, and have lost the will to make compromises. At the centre of all of it is Stewart Robertson.
Robertson’s position at Ibrox has been a difficult one for a while.
Nominally, at least, he has the same position at Sevco as Peter Lawwell does at Celtic Park. But his title is different and the power structure there is different. Whilst Lawwell is CEO at Parkhead, Robertson is Sevco’s managing director. The CEO post there is held by Paul Murray.
And that’s only the first problem.
Murray has no business being near Ibrox.
He served on the David Murray board with less than distinction. The only defence he has offered for what was going on during his tenure is that he had no idea about any of it. For a director to admit that, far less use it in mitigation, is scandalous. He was never a “fit and proper person”.
Murray is Robertson’s boss, but really it should be the other way around.
Robertson has to take every decision to a guy who isn’t even remotely qualified to deal on his level. Robertson has been involved in football for years and knows his way around the sport. He is chafing at the way he is constantly second guessed and over-ruled.
He gets on well with Mark Allen though, and he was the one who pushed for that role to be filled.
As if the club doesn’t have enough bureaucratic inertia as it is. I’ve described it as a shambles before and that is absolutely accurate, but you have to think for a moment about the system these people all work in to realise just how ridiculous it actually is.
There are two boards, one with veto power over the other. There’s an MD and a CEO, where the lines of control and responsibility are blurred. There’s no manager at the moment but there is a director of football. The stand-in boss answers to him, and the next permanent appointment probably will too. But for Allen to take any major decision he has to go to Robertson. And Robertson can’t do anything without going to Paul Murray.
And Murray is nothing but a useful idiot, who operates as King’s eyes and ears at the club. The way it was put to me recently is that he couldn’t pull the chain in the toilet without permission from South Africa. Need I go on? This just becomes absurd after a while.
And Robertson is sick of it. Rumour has it he’s considered quitting, but is being restrained in that desire by Allen himself who already realises what a mess this all is. Do you think a man like that was responsible for putting John Brown into the scouting network? Not in this lifetime. The director of football is already unclear on where his own responsibilities start and where they end. Talk about a recipe for disaster, on so many levels.
There is one move that Robertson could make, and I believe he must be very tempted. He can take a sabbatical. He can, in effect, down tools and see how the club manages without him for a while. Because he really is the glue holding so much of it together at the moment. I don’t think he’s been particularly good at the job he’s in, but when things need doing at Ibrox it’s his back that rests against the wheel until it’s taken care of.
He is also the sole voice of fiscal sanity in many of the meetings.
What would the effects be if he simply threw up his hands and said “Sod this, I’m out of here for a wee while”?
Back in 1972, one of the best bands in the world was Creedence Clearwater Revival.
Their lead singer and creative fulcrum was John Fogerty, even then widely recognised as an artistic genius and one of the finest song-writers of all time. He had told the band, early on, that he would be running the show and they could either like it or lump it. As the group became more famous, his band mates demanded more creative control; by the time their fourth album came about they were a constant drone in his ears, and he was pissed about it.
He told them straight they could either continue having success – with him at the helm – or they could give full vent to their egos and watch the band swirl down the tubes. They backed down, but when his brother left the band in 1971 he knew it was coming to a head.
He surprised everyone when he told his two remaining bandmates – Stuart Cook and Doug Clifford – that he was giving them what they had always wanted; creative responsibility. In fact, he went much further and told them that for the next album he would contribute exactly one third. A handful of songs, no backing vocals (he made them sing their own songs, the ones they had written for the record), no mixing, no dubbing … nothing.
And Mardi Gras was born, a record panned by critics everywhere and, in the most notorious, Rolling Stone’s Jon Landau (who later went on to work magic alongside Bruce Springsteen) referred to it as “the revenge of John Fogerty” and “relative to a group’s established level of performance, the worst album I have ever heard from a major rock band.”
It was Creedences’ last album and led to thirty plus years of bad blood and legal fights, some of which are still going on to this day.
Stewart Robertson is no genius, but he is one of the few honest-to-God professionals on the Sevco board. If he walks off the site even for a while the chaos at that club will be so overwhelming not even the toadying, fawning, Scottish sporting press will be able to ignore it for long.
It’s probably best to leave you with the words of John Fogerty himself.
There are three good songs on Mardi Gras and all of them are those Fogerty wrote, of course.
The first track on the album seems especially fitting to this moment.
I’m lookin’ for a reason to stay.
I’m all wound up and tied in knots today.
I’m lookin’ for a reason not to go.
When the morning comes, I’ll be on my way.
Every night I ask myself again
Just what it was that made our dream begin.
It seemed like a good idea way back then.
But I’m wondering now what daydream took me in.
Yesterday I tried once more to find
A way to share the trouble on my mind.
It seems like you turn away every time.
I used to like it here, I can’t remember why.
I am sure that Stewart Robertson can relate to every single word.