Well this has been quite a week for Sevco fans and their new kit manufacturer.
What amazes me is that they are genuinely shocked that the hits keep on coming over this.
The biggest, the final Ashley reveal, is yet to come, but for the moment there’s no shortage of glee to be had in reading their forums and their online reactions as stories of shoddy goods continue to pour in and the hard questions – finally – are starting to be asked.
Too late of course.
Mostly by people who’ve put down their money are now holding sub-standard gear in their hands.
If it’s not wildly divergent quality in the kits themselves its missing logos and badges and ones that fall off after one wash.
What is it we were told when Castore got this gig?
They were hailed as a “premium brand.”
This was supposed to make us all forget that they were right at the bottom of the list of potentials, and for a very good reason.
They had no experience in mass manufacturing of this type, and Sevco fans should have realised that, in no small part because we all said so.
Once again, this didn’t require us to be in possession of special powers.
Nor were we throwing darts at a board.
Castore had no infrastructure for a project this size, and it should be readily apparent that they were going to struggle with that side of it, in the same way as the retail side was going to require Ashley to still be involved somewhere.
On top of that, the quality was always going to be suspect. You can produce a premium product if your run is 5000 units, but beyond that, if for no other reason than to keep down costs, the quality decreases as the number goes up.
The issue seems to be that the kits are getting made in all different places, some in India, some in China and others in Turkey.
The quality is wildly different and if you place an order you have no way of knowing which version you’re going to get.
The Chinese ones appear the best, but even they are nothing like the quality of the stuff Castore makes in its main manufacturing domain of Portugal. That is where the premium gear is turned out; all the other stuff is knock-off quality. Which was all too predictable.
Some of the other revelations border on fraudulent.
One Sevco fan bought a sweatshirt from the club’s own website, with the Castore branding on it.
But Castore didn’t make it, and the company who were repackaging it left the original labelling on it. They track to a company that makes plain old generic stuff for school uniforms and such like … but in sticking a Castore sign on it the club were able to market it for a whopping £55 and gullible fools bought it.
How many they’ll shift now that the facts are known remains to be seen. How much more of their “official merchandise” is plain old tat like this, repurposed as premium gear? You get the feeling that this is the tip of the iceberg, and the fans are being taken for a ride.
One of Sevco’s prominent podcasts, which has run numerous interviews with the Amazing Castore Brothers (thanks to Phil for that!) have already expressed their disgust and accused the company’s founders of using them in order to lie to their fellow supporters.
A national newspaper ran that story yesterday, but for the most part the press has been silent.
You will read none of this, for example, in The Record, who are too busy parsing Kieran Tierney’s interviews for more ammunition to lob at our fans.
Phil did an excellent piece on this stuff earlier; he has been at the forefront of this story from the start, proving again that our hacks are a waste of space. Whilst our media has talked up the deal and printed every bit of positive spin they could, an NUJ card holder based in Ireland has been putting together the facts and writing them up … to much scorn from those who would rather be fed lies than given the truth. Because sometimes the truth hurts.
It is certainly hurting over in Sevconia today.
I said to someone earlier that we had predicted these disasters right from the start. Over on one of their forums, the thread about the kit is now more than 200 pages long … and the penny is only now starting to drop. There are slow learners and then there’s the Sevco support.
To quote Malcolm Tucker, this lot are “so dense light bends around them.”
I had a good laugh with Phil over the phone earlier on all this, and he reminded me that we never get to write these stories about Celtic. Because our club is boring. Our club is well run. Professional in its approach.
There are only so many times you can write that, only so many ways you can say how well we approach this stuff, and everything else besides.
He reminded me that the old press adage “if it bleeds, it leads” is roundly ignored here when it comes to Ibrox. They really would prefer to write feel-good nonsense than actual news … and that’s why this stuff keeps on happening over there again and again.
“Sevco is bleeding right now,” he said to me. “Bleeding out in the gutter. And instead of focussing on that the press here would rather promote the idea that they are a picture of health.”
Which is the whole issue in a nutshell, and why things over there will not improve as long as long as the press allows itself to be bound and blindfolded like this. They are used and abused every bit as much as the Sevco support itself … but neither they nor the fans seem to mind.
But every now and again you get an eruption, and this is one of those times.
What Phil has named the Castore Catastrophe continues to unfold in a way that was blindly obvious to everyone who looked at this rationally from the start … it was predictable, and I write that with some authority, and not a little pride because, after all, we did predict it.
Who said The Banter Years were over?
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