There is a Russian allegory which I think of sometimes when I consider the state of things at Ibrox.
A guy is in a car accident and winds up in an ambulance, but he quickly realises that it’s not heading towards the hospital.
“Where are you taking me?” he asks. The driver says, “The morgue.”
“But I’m not dead yet,” the man says. The driver replies, “And we aren’t there yet.”
Tonight’s news that Hummel are suing the Ibrox club for £9.5 million did not, in itself, put them in the back of the ambulance, or on the way to the morgue, but they are in the vehicle just the same and the destination is the same one that it ever was.
Only a radical course correction can change that, and I see no sign whatsoever of that.
Theirs is a club that has not, since its inception, learned a single one of the lessons of Ibrox’s past. Read their forums for a taste of the supporter’s mind-set for a start. They have never accepted that what happened to Rangers was the club’s own fault. They believe in the Unseen Fenian Hand and the role it played in bringing them down.
My favourite song-writer is Warren Zevon, and one of his friends was the Godfather of Gonzo Journalism, another hero of mine, Hunter S. Thompson.
His seminal work was called Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas, and as an homage to the man’s genius I call my Ibrox in crisis pieces by the same name.
He and Warren wrote a song together, You’re A Whole Different Person When You’re Scared, a song that I intend to be the centrepiece of a future article because it neatly sums up the state of panic over there, and in that current predicament their board might do anything.
Thompson’s famous book, Kingdom of Fear gets a neat little mention in that song, and I particularly enjoy this stanza;
The eagle screams on Friday
The Colts are doomed this year
The fat’s finally in the fire
In the Kingdom of Fear
Dangerous creeps are everywhere
You’re a whole different person
When you’re scared
The reference to “the Colts” could easily be switched out for “Sevco” and everything about that would be a perfect match with the colossal mess at Ibrox right now. Because Ibrox is the Kingdom of Fear.
Fear and Loathing both.
At the heart of it all is a dysfunctional board which for all its sins didn’t want Dave King on it, and his utter refusal to go away.
They brace for an AGM which now looks as about as safe for them as a free-fire zone.
Problems are mounting up faster than they can find solutions for them, but even if their world was a much quieter place than it is right now, they would still have much to be afraid of.
King, you see, has twigged it and is talking openly about it even if they aren’t.
And they should be, all the better to equip their fans with the truth, because he has come to a conclusion that many, many thousands of those supporters refuse to, or are determined not to, face; that their club risks being left behind by a Celtic which finally has its act all the way together.
He’s right that their board have reached the limits of their ability to fund the club.
He’s right that they cannot take it one step further.
But he doesn’t offer real solutions either, just more Murrayesque moonbeams, more outright fantasy, where some oligarch or finance whizz-kid sweeps into Ibrox willing to throw millions of pounds at the team with no hope of a return.
And he and others, people who seriously need to be acquainted with a dictionary, still call it “investment”, surely amongst the most abused words in the English language where their club is concerned.
Investment is predicated on putting something in to get something back, something a little more than the temporary gratitude of a fan-base which will turn on you at the drop of a hat.
Ibrox’s accounts this year claim to show a profit. They don’t.
The next set might, but that will be small comfort to their fans if we’ve made it two in a row and look on course to make it three.
In exceptional circumstances they might be able to show good numbers – and that’s what the next set will reflect; exceptional circumstances – but in any “normal” year, whilst their sole focus is on “competing” with Celtic, there is no chance of that.
In order to attract genuine investors, they would need to be a profitable club. But to be a profitable club they would need to make dramatic cuts in wages and on transfer fees and the club’s entire infrastructure would have to be scaled back.
In a normal year their income lags behind ours by a sum that ranges between £15 and £20 million. That’s the reality. We can put that money on the park, and so to even stay competitive they need to find sums on that order above and beyond their earnings.
And that sort of stuff puts them in the back of an ambulance heading not towards the hospital but the morgue, and those of us who see that and say it are frequently castigated … but only because the patient isn’t dead yet.
The Russians use that story to highlight the dark journey their country continues to undergo.
Sevco fans must know where their own is heading
That club can post profits and look like a stable organisation, or it can continue to chase Celtic and maintain the lie of being the most successful in the country, all the while watching as we chip away even at the fiction and threaten to make it redundant.
That path leads to the boneyard, and only a fool doesn’t recognise that fact.
King has grasped it, but his prescription is the one most likely to kill the patient. He probably knows that, but right now he has one goal; to remove the club chairman, even as Park tries to dig them out of the hole they are currently in, a job made vastly harder today with the news about Hummel. King is willing to scorch the earth … that’s how much he cares about the club.
Yes, the fat’s finally in the fire in the Kingdom of Fear, and dangerous creeps are certainly everywhere.
Some of them have American accents.
That club is in a place of real peril, and I wonder if many of their fans even realise how dangerous this is.