Date: 1st November 2018 at 6:59pm
Written by:

It is a rare day when a writer at Forbes Magazine writes about Scottish football, but last night something so extraordinary happened that they published a piece on it and reported it as news, and it is news. Even on a night when a lot of news was being made elsewhere.

You might think that this had to be the story at Tynecastle, but actually that isn’t nearly as important to our sport or quite so illuminating about the state of our game.

Local rivalry bursts into flames. Dog bites man. Cheese on toast tastes good.

Forbes generally doesn’t cover that stuff. There are bigger fish to fry.

The article is about Sevco’s returns. The writer saw what we did and drew the same conclusion; a club that produces financial statements ten minutes into a full card of games wants the story slapped into the middle of a news cycle where people are already distracted.

It won’t kill any mention of them, but it will limit the coverage and the impact.

It is an old politics trick.

This is the first time I’ve ever seen anything this blatant attempted by a football club over annualised returns. It has blipped on radars everywhere. This is the Streisand Effect in miniature; the phenomenon wherein trying to censor, hide or limit the coverage of something actually increases the scrutiny instead.

Oh the Scottish hacks might have bought it – most of them did – and they might have downplayed those numbers or spun them as Dave King liked (some more than most) but many people who may not even have been interested are wide awake and watching. Gerrard’s presence at Ibrox, and his struggles, have only made this more obvious. This is the price of bringing in a manager with a higher footballing profile than the club. People take notice.

What they did last night reeks, and you can smell the stink of it anywhere.

It is an insult to the rest of the sport, to use the games as cover. It is an insult to their fans, who would not have been able to give those matters their full attention before they read the spin on them. It is an insult to the media, but one the media appears to be dealing with by refusing to acknowledge the immense contempt for them that it betrays.

It is a breathtakingly brazen act.

It is vintage King, everything we’ve come to expect, and another shining example of why the very notion that he is a “fit and proper person” is a bad joke that the SFA never seems to growing tired of having forced on the rest of us.

This guy is a crook. A snake-oil salesman masquerading as a football chairman. God alone knows what scams he is running behind the walls of Ibrox. He is not a businessman, he is a low-grade criminal and pathological liar.

The writer of the Forbes piece used none of the excuses we’ve read elsewhere. He pulled no punches. He didn’t do a hatchet job just to do, but it bludgeoned the club just the same. He simply presented the facts.

Facts. You remember those, rights?

We all do, because we read a lot of them on Celtic sites.

But this is a mainstream outlet writing this stuff, and that’s a rarity. What is an even bigger rarity is that the writer presented the facts in context, by comparing Sevco’s performance over the last six years with that of other clubs, ourselves and Aberdeen included.

But the best bit of the piece was the assault it launched on the Scottish media and their readiness to simply take King’s word for it all. Pointing out that his statement was “released during the Kilmarnock game” – as the accounts were – it suggested that the “obfuscatory nature” of this disclosure should worry their supporters. “Rarely is good news released in such a manner,” it said, which is a minor understatement. It then went on to how the timing affected the media response.

Having pointed out that most of the press was focused on the games – as King certainly intended with the scheduling – the writer then identified the real problem in the coverage the accounts have gotten; “The story did appear low down on the websites of the Daily Record and The Scottish Sun, but one had to seek it out and it was presented with no analysis beyond the quotes from Dave King that appeared in the club statement.”

Read that again. Think about it. A club – the one the media assures us is vital to Scottish football’s very survival – and which crawled out of the grave of one which was already liquidated by debt has produced accounts which tick all the boxes of “deplorable.” Our media response was to offer no analysis beyond the quotes from the club statement. Dave King’s statement. Which basically means they took King’s comments and framed those accounts around them. And that is news, perhaps even bigger news than the numbers themselves.

I will do the numbers themselves tomorrow; I want a night to analyse them properly, but you can tell even from a first glance that they are a car-crash.

There is a lot of writing on them already; Phil has produced an excellent piece via Rugger Guy and the writer of the Forbes piece has done a superb job with them, but I like to do my own work and my own once over.

I wish other people had the same commitment to high standards as those guys do.

One article – from Martin Williams in The Herald – is so ludicrous that I was laughing reading it earlier, which I am sure was not what Williams intended.

The lack of basic research done in that piece, and the complete absence of context, is mind-bending but perhaps not surprising in a guy who allegedly has a fixation with UFO’s which has led to colleagues labelling him “Martian Williams” and whistling the X-Files theme as they pass his desk.

Thank God for people who do take this stuff more seriously.

It’s because of them that The Truth Is Out There.

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