There are many aspects to today’s courtroom drama involving Sevco and Mike Ashley, and I will cover them in some detail over the next couple of days, but above all of them one fact stands out, head and shoulders above the rest, and it is this; Ashley has won.
His victory is so complete that I cannot see his sportswear firm relinquishing its control over the Ibrox retail operations again. This is as comprehensive as it comes.
Over the next few days you are going to hear all manner of nonsense out of Ibrox about how this is actually a win for them. A curious victory if it is. Ashley has already pocketed millions in a settlement that the club trumpeted as a result for them. The one positive the Sevco fans took from that was the club was finally shot of the Sports Direct supremo.
Today that so-called win looks as hollow as many of the bloggers said it was at the time.
It has been revealed to be a con.
Just another in a long line of them, and it wasn’t Ashley who was deceiving the supporters but the man he’s routed today so utterly that if you ever see the inside of Sports Direct’s Shirebrook HQ again on the telly, look out for the cast of King’s head hanging up on the wall like a trophy.
Ashley owns him now.
Already the pet hacks have been tossed their statements. Chris Jack is already on spin-control but only an idiot would believe a word that he writes on this. Ashley was supposed to have departed stage left. Tonight he is the star of the show. Sevco fans who were gleeful about the return of their sectarian strip design are not half as happy about it as Ashley is; he will be the prime beneficiary. He only has to sit back and watch as the money rolls in.
A lot of the Sevco fans will swallow their pride on this one and buy shirts anyway. They really do have no shame at all, not one ounce of it.
They have all the backbone and fortitude of jellyfish, which is why they will enrich a billionaire who has pissed all over their club and why they’ll cheer on Lafferty when he finally returns to the blue jersey; this mob may boast of how “the cry was no surrender” but they roll over every time like a dog having its tummy tickled.
Ashley knows it, and what’s more King knows it too.
No other club’s fans would tolerate such a brazen liar at the helm and no other club’s fans would allow someone like Ashley to do them up like this and then smile sweetly and hand him their wallets. It is breath-taking how pliable they are.
There will be no talk of boycotts this time. King will assure them that the club will get the lions share of the profits from this deal, and most will take him at his word.
Sevco will release a statement saying how everything in the garden is rosy and how equitable this has all been; they are forking out £500,000 in court costs, not because this has been sorted out with a handshake and a round of drinks but because they have capitulated and are therefore liable for all the legal fees, having admitted that Sports Direct was right all along.
Let’s not forget, this was Sevco trying to pull a flanker, trying to push Sports Direct out of the door completely and with King at the helm thinking they could do it in a way that wasn’t kosher. Anyone who tries to tell you that this has all ended with everyone on good terms is lying, it’s really that simple. They wanted Ashley gone, and gone forever, and they were willing to chance their arm at circumventing the law in order to get it done.
Tonight he has the deal he wanted, on terms that suit him and nobody else. Don’t think he gave up even an inch. Sevco “settled this out of court” only because they knew they were certain to lose and Ashley does not deal gently with people who force him towards the law and then realise they were in over their heads. This was about as equitable as a robbery at gunpoint. With the odds so heavily stacked, who do you really think got the best of the deal?
This has not been a good day for Sevco.
Whatever they are paying Cardoso to walk away comes on top of having to find £500,000 to satisfy Ashley and the courts. The story that is doing the rounds about how they still owe £1 million on the Portuguese’ transfer fee is hilariously brilliant; watch as that one edges towards, and finally into, the courts next.
That club is a shambles from top to bottom.
All the glee over them “not having conceded a goal yet” and other such tripe does not disguise what an abject shower they are.
Off the pitch, they are all over the shop, routed and smashed now by a guy they told the world had been seen off the premises; tonight he owns the premises and his trucks will soon be rolling back and forth from the warehouses, and he’ll be billing the club every step of the way.
Ignore any attempt at spinning this. This one speaks for itself.
Darkness has fallen across Sevco’s retail future.
There will be no dawn whilst Iron Mike Ashley holds his cards.