Football is all about uncertainty. It is unpredictable, which is one of the reasons we love it.
Nothing in it as sewn up as “death and taxes”.
The club at Ibrox is the proof of it. Death has already come for a club which plays there. Taxes can be deferred but not denied. Fail to pay them and the Second Death may well follow. We’re about to find out how close that is.
Sevco was born spending money it didn’t have. That’s been the way of Ibrox clubs for as long as I can remember.
Last season they triumphed on the pitch. The full story of how they did it is as shrouded in secrecy as the one about how they pay their bills. Some of the facts will come out in time; there are no secrets anymore, simply untold truths waiting to be discovered.
Much of football has already owned up to the mess the virus and the global health emergency wrought on the balance sheets up and down the land. Clubs are dealing with the damage in different ways.
The curiosity is that there might have been an element here of Survival of the Unfittest; the clubs which lost least from lockdown were those that had least to lose.
The Ibrox board kept on spending as if none of it was happening.
It is inconceivable that long term damage has not been done to Sevco as a result of that. We won’t get the full picture this month but we’ll get a sense of it. Because they are almost out of time for publishing those long-awaited accounts.
They can’t delay much longer. November is it.
He scorched the idea – as I did here – that they will be in “profit making” territory next year, as their CEO suggested to a fan meeting and pointed out that is almost certainly for public relations purposes, a sop when the fans find out how big the hole is.
But fooling their own supporters for a while is not going to do it for them.
They are going to have to start dealing with some of the harsh realities which they were able to deny in the quest to stop us from winning ten in a row. Who knows what elaborate arrangements they made with “investors”, and who knows what the price of them will be?
They presumed Champions League qualification; that didn’t come, and that has to have hurt, and virtually assured losses for another year, especially as they weren’t able to shift any of their second rate junk for the high prices they’d been hoping for.
All those players remain on the books.
The media never talks about what their indifferent start to the season means in that regard; it means that they will be lucky to get offers for any of them in January, when the need will be great and the club almost on its chin-strap.
Some of the creditors will wait.
Others will be reluctant to push too hard for fear of toppling the whole thing over.
But those, like HMRC, who are not in the business of waiting around for the Peepul to get a proper sense of their priorities will be setting deadlines which are not negotiable, and they won’t care how much crying and wailing goes on as a result.
They will not care what the consequences are for player budgets and transfer funds or what arrogant English ex-footballers-cum-coaches think of the restrictions that they impose. They will not care what the egotists in Ibrox’s stands make of an age of austerity.
Ibrox faces its own exodus of players in the summer, as a few retire and others come to the ends of their deals.
These players will, in all likelihood, not be replaced.
Change is coming to that club, and their management team is going to have to become accustomed to the concept of doing more with less.
I suspect they won’t like it.
What would austerity at Ibrox look like? We can’t say for sure, because they’ve never talked seriously about such a thing far less actually attempted it. The idea of that club living within its means is an alien concept to them. But it’s coming.
Although the Ibrox CEO was running game on the fans when he made his “in profit” prediction, he wasn’t entirely taking the piss. I have little doubt that their board wants to see the club reach that state of play, but I wonder if they have the stomach for what it means.
One thing is clear; they have lost the stomach for carrying massive losses.
Whoever paid for the carnage inflicted on them last season, it wasn’t the usual suspects. The answer as to who it actually was – and what they want – will determine what state that club is in for the next few years and beyond.
The hard choices will start in January. They will still bet big on Champions League cash, but if they don’t win this league the real pain starts in the summer and they might find that it’s not just for one campaign, but for a long time to come.
This month, we’re going to get a glimpse of their future; from their perspective, it will not be pretty.