As regular readers will know, I enjoy good TV shows and one of my favourites is the show Gold Rush, which can found on the Discovery Channel.
There are currently ten seasons.
The first opens with a bunch of ordinary guys deciding to set off to Alaska to join the modern day gold rush, with the value of gold at an all-time high.
Their leader is a large gentleman called Todd Hoffman.
The show follows his trials and tribulations and those of his team as they encounter, over the years, various catastrophes in their efforts to become rich.
The most incredible is Season 4. He and his team have just figured out how to do the job well in the Alaskan wilderness, when out of sheer greed and more than a little stupidity Todd decides to move the entire operation to the jungles of Guyana.
It is a comedy of errors, one cataclysm after another. Their heavy machinery is useless in the jungle, where the mud is thick and it constantly rains. By the mid-season their hopes are in ruins. Key team members are on the brink of mutiny. The jungle is simply destroying them.
At that point, Todd finds what he thinks is an answer; his wash-plant is catching diamonds.
And so begins the true denouement, as Todd throws everything into diamond mining, about which he knows nothing at all except that he’s heard others have made good money at it. It is a fool’s errand, and that’s obvious even watching it without the benefit of hindsight.
At the end of the season, with his investors furious at his total failure to get the gold, he produces his diamond haul, hoping to impress them. But he has never taken the time to find out what they are worth; what he holds is a couple of hundred dollars at most … and it’s cost him nearly half a million dollars of his and other people’s money to get them.
Watching it, I’m always reminded of Sevco and their quest to unearth their own gold and diamonds.
But they want to do it on the cheap. They believe that it looks easy. It’s a mistake Todd makes time and again, except that he constantly throws money at any problem he comes across. He at least knows that sometimes you have to spend it to get it.
Sevco doesn’t realise that. They see what we do and reckon that anyone could do it. The Evening Times tonight has a daft article in it about how the “battle” that could decide the title will come down to whether Nick Hammond or Ross Wilson is the best at his job. Honest to God, where else but our media could you get paid good money for talking such rot?
One of those men will be well resourced, and backed by a top class scouting network and the other will not. One of them will be able to recommend footballers who will cost a lot of money, whereas the other will not. One will be there to buy players, the other to sell.
They think selling looks easy. They think you simply name your price and wait for someone to come along who’s willing to pay it. How stupid do you have to be to reckon that strategy works? It is a proven failure.
Year after year, it has yielded no results.
There are various reasons why Celtic’s own strategy is such a success, and they don’t tick any of the boxes.
To get gold, a mining team has to put tons of pay-dirt through the machinery and the take they get back is measured in ounces. Ounces, right? You would not believe the amount of earth they have to move to bring in tiny amounts.
But those tiny amounts are so valuable that people do walk away with their pockets bulging. One veteran goldminer, Tony Beets, has made so much money that by the later seasons he can afford to take a £1 million punt on buying an ancient dredge, a piece of mining equipment that hasn’t been in use since the 60’s.
And that’s what Celtic’s strategy is like, as we all know well.
For every star you unearth you have to spend money on a lot of worthless dreck. The Ibrox club has that down to a fine art anyway. It’s that other bit they haven’t quite mastered, and they won’t as long as they are pissing money away on ten signings every summer instead of investing in scouting.
Like Tony Beets, we have this down to an art. On top of that, our record in unearthing these gems is so good that we’re trusted and respected and teams are willing to take a shot at spending big money on our players. They look at Van Dijk winning European Defender of the Year and taking Liverpool to the Champions League and know we’re good at what we do.
They see a young talent like Edouard scoring for fun in the French Under 21’s and they know it isn’t a fluke because Dembele was there the year before and we moved him on for big money and he’s proven that he can live up to it.
At Ibrox, they don’t have a thought-through strategy. King wants to combine challenging Celtic with finding players to sell on for a profit … it’s a non-starter.
Todd Hoffman manages to piss off his investors not only because he isn’t getting results but because at times he doesn’t even appear to have a plan.
He meanders around, making rash decisions, doing stuff that more seasoned miners would never do … even in the latter seasons, when he knows the game as well as he’s ever going to, he makes stupid mistakes because he’s still, at heart, a fly-by-night operator.
In contrast is a young miner, Parker Schnabel, who we watch start his career at just sixteen, and who grows and becomes one of the best in the business.
A sense of professionalism. The willingness to listen to others. Learning from mistakes. These are the things that bring success in every walk of life, and Sevco doesn’t operate by any of those standards at all. Like a bad miner, they continue to go over old ground, again and again.
King reckons that if one SPL club can sell players for tens of millions then any of them can.
How has that worked out for Aberdeen, in getting what they want for McKenna? It is not as simple as it looks, and even with the media hyping every player at Ibrox there’s no interest in any of them because scouts and club’s officials aren’t going to be convinced by hype.
As the really top miners know that you don’t spend money unless you drill the ground first to see what’s in there, clubs won’t simply spend money because The Daily Record tells them a player is worth it. They want to see what he’s got … and that’s where the wheels stop turning.
That’s where the so-called strategy falls on its backside.
Ross Wilson may be better at generating hype than Mark Allen was, but he cannot make mediocre players into good ones or good ones into great ones. And without that club being willing to spend a lot of money in scouting and checking out the talent they are never going to be able to develop and sell anyone for a significant profit … and they have to be prepared to make a loss on many of those who they do buy.
And because more clubs have invested in scouting and the English clubs, in particular, are covering more ground than ever before, it’s going to get more expensive to make those mistakes. They can’t afford to spend what they currently do.
By the end of this season, a lot of things at Ibrox will be different.
Some of the current staff are not going to survive it.
The real question is whether the club will.
There is no pot of gold at the end of this rainbow.
It won’t be long before they are sifting through mud.
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