Sevco fans, you really have to hand it to them.
They are The Peepul. Something special. Smarter than the rest of us, or so they would have you believe.
Actually, we know they have the collective memory of fruit flies and that a fire ant is smarter than the average bear. They have been used and abused so often and so completely that Enron executives would have proud of the con-job.
They never learn, see? That’s what comes with having a short memory and a tendency to swallow any old nonsense you are fed, especially if it comes with a supremacist slant. Tell these people they are special and you can get away with anything.
Lyndon Johnson was one of the most successful Presidents in history at getting his policies through the House of Representatives.
He was a guy who used every weapon in the arsenal, and I do mean every single one. They say he would even use his manhood (he called it Jumbo) to intimidate other men, whipping it out when need be to get his point across.
He was an expert on divide and rule.
He knew there were people who could be bullied (see above!) and others who could be bought. He knew you could finesse some egos to the point where you got what you wanted whereas others had to be crushed. He was an expert on human relationships, on the interaction between people.
And he understood, and used to monumental advantage, utter ignorance and stupidity.
I think of him often when I think of the Sevconuts.
His biggest struggle was over The Civil Rights Act 1964. He knew there would be a political cost to it (he said it had “delivered the south to the Republicans for a generation” and he was right) but he knew it had to be done, and what the cause of racism was.
It was ignorance. And he knew he could use that ignorance to combat it. Although viscerally opposed to racism and bigotry, he knew that there was a certain type of person who could be easily swayed by it, and in time he would use that knowledge to the fullest. It’s not for nothing that, in spite of the antagonism of some in his own party and in the wider United States he was able to dance around their objections, and even win some over to his side.
He played a little game of divide and rule.
When talking to liberals he’d tell them straight that he intended to sweep away the last vestiges of segregation. When talking to those on the right, whose votes he needed, he would try another tactic; he would play to their innate sense that African Americans were lower on the social order and would not know what to do with rights when they were given them. And for some people that worked and Johnson got their votes. They never bothered to ask themselves whether he meant it.
Had they heard him talk to a young aide four years before, when he was still a mere Senator and not yet the VP nominee on the ticket of another upstart who wanted to change things, John F Kennedy, they would have known exactly what he was playing at.
“If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best coloured man,” he told the aide, “he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.”
Sevco crawled out of the grave of Rangers, we all know that. What not a lot of people seem to be aware of, or have considered, is that it didn’t have to so closely resemble that club. Charles Green had no interest at all in pandering to that kind of audience when he bought the assets. It was only when he realised he could squeeze money out of the fans more quickly by tapping the hate vein that he started to talk like a born again Billy Boy.
He knew feeding them supremacist guff was the surest way to their wallets, and you would have to be blind not to see how that philosophy has been taken forward by everyone who’s been in that boardroom since. Green knew it. Dave King most certainly knows it.
It’s not for nothing that he and Green both sounded out the same constituency – the lunatic fringe – and got them onside before taking a forward step.
That mind set now envelopes the whole club. It’s woven into the fabric of it. Those running it pay lip service to the wants and wishes of the fans. It tells them they are special. It even sets up wee talking shops to ask for their opinions on any number of issues.
And then it ignores them, all the while telling them how great they are.
And forever, it has one hand in their pockets.
Phil has done sterling work this past few weeks in pulling together various strands of the story involving the Close Brothers loan. His fantastic efforts and those of a handful of others elsewhere – some of them within the Sevco family itself – fell into perfect synchronicity over the last few days and they offer us an illuminating picture of life as an Ibrox fan.
First was Phil’s breaking story that the club is still £1 million short of the sum it needs to get through the season.
I knew that peripheral to this there was a story about Club 1872 asking its members for money to participate in a minor share purchase: I was also aware that a section of Club 1872 is deeply suspicious about that scheme. It has also failed, thus far, to hit its target (they are short by around half).
I never for a second connected those stories although in hindsight it seems blatantly obvious that they were related and how.
And of course they are linked, as Phil was able to confirm. Club 1872 has been earmarked as the source of those funds, and their whole “share buying” drive appears to be the brainchild of the club itself, to disguise what is, in effect, another “soft loan.”
With the fans money this time.
I cannot state enough times how James Blair’s position on the Club 1872 board compromises it and its ability to remain separate from the club on whose board he also sits. The more you look at Club 1872 the clearer it becomes that it was a scam from the start, that it was created not to give the fans a genuine voice at the top table but to actually limit fan participation and scrutiny by amalgamating the various fan groups into one … and then basically keeping hold of it.
I’ve even begun to wonder if Chris Graham himself wasn’t royally grafted and made the useful idiot for the scam.
Before him there was all sorts of talk about a fan on the board. They could have chosen anyone, and there were many respectable possibilities, professional people, without the slightest trace of scandal attached to them … and they picked him.
For a long time, I wondered how they could have been so stupid … but perhaps it was the smartest thing they ever did. Because the furore it caused absolutely wrecked the idea of having a supporter in the boardroom, and I know for a fact that whenever the matter has been raised by fan reps that the response has been “yeah well the media crucified us over Chris, so we have to be careful …” and that closes the issue for another while.
I wonder if they set the guy up, so they didn’t have to keep their promises about putting one of the supporter representatives at the centre of the club. I wonder if they picked a guy they knew would provoke a firestorm … so they could bury the idea and him with it.
Nothing would surprise me. Nothing at all.
There’s more of course. One of the bugbears of their support is the presence at every Ibrox game we play of seven thousand very jovial Celtic fans. Some of their reps have been pushing the club to cut that allocation, and at a recent meeting they got an answer from the boardroom … it amounted to, “thanks for your thoughts, but no.” And for once they were told straight that this is about finance, about money and nothing else.
Their opinions don’t matter next to that, and they never did.
The club doesn’t pay a blind bit of notice to what they want, or think, not really.
It talks their language, and it knows that’s all it ever has to do. Tell them they are special whilst your hand roots around in their pockets, and pulls their wallets out. Even better; tell them they’ll be special … and they’ll get their wallets out without you having to do another thing.
LBJ would have had a field day with these Peepul. He’d have known what they were and he’d have known just how to play them, and he would have given them one jumbo sized rodgering. The current board over there is playing them for fools.
And you know what they say about a fool and his money.
You can also follow us on Twitter at @The_Celtic_Blog