One of the subjects that is obsessing the media at the moment is how much money Celtic have. I agree with them that it’s an outrage that we have all that cash sitting in the bank but won’t spend more of it where it belongs, out on the pitch.
But I wrote maybe a month ago that I am done lashing the club because it is rich. We do not need to be stockpiling quite so much of it, but at the end of the day having money in the bank fortifies you against future shocks.
The media in this country almost certainly grasps this on some level. But where’s the fun in talking about clubs being ready in event of sudden disaster when you can write about how good it is to see them bringing in bling signings and taking momentous risks?
That’s why when I heard that Sky Sports Scotland had interviewed the Hibs chairman and given him a pretty severe grilling on their latest accounts and their forthcoming deal with the owners of Bournemouth that I was at first gratified to hear them taking this issue seriously and then appalled when I realised just how much they intended to question the guy.
One of the first things I heard Luke Shanley, of Sky Sports Scotland, say in the report was that he thought because Hibs had posted a £3 million after-tax loss that the club might be doing a little “speculate to accumulate”; the connotation was that they were gambling, severely, and that it was a risky strategy to take.
Funny that it’s precisely the one that they are urging us to take. More than that though, it is the one the Ibrox club has been following since it crawled out of the grave of Rangers wearing its gear like some sort of George Romero zombie.
Then they discussed the risks of a director funded debt strategy. I couldn’t believe my ears.
The people who have been ignoring Ibrox’s high-risk version of the same thing for years suddenly had questions they wanted to put to an SPL chairman who was pursuing something not all that dissimilar! I was stunned. I didn’t think they had people who understood this stuff in the Scottish media. They’ve never seemed to want to understand it before now.
But this farce wasn’t over yet. They went on to talk about wages to turnover and Shanley expressed his surprise that it was so high; over 80% in Hibs case at the moment.
Wow. How dreadful, right? Except I checked earlier on today and Ibrox’s wages to turnover ratio was at 76% before they brought Manneken Piss and his people to the club and brought in a Wolves player who was earning tens of thousands a week in the Premiership.
But apparently Hibs are pursuing a dangerous strategy and the club from Ibrox aren’t?
And in case you think this is normal for Hibs and that they might be on dangerous ground, I had a look over the stats on all this earlier and as Swiss Ramble pointed out in his excellent summation of the Ibrox accounts, their last declared loss was the biggest in Scottish football for two years … and the one two years before that was their own loss and so was the one before that and the one before that, so Ibrox has been running on this basis for over a decade now and not a single Scottish journalist has bothered to ask these questions of their board in that accusatory manner in all that time.
I thought it was a decent piece of journalism.
My only question is where it has been all this time and why it’s only now that Sky Sports Scotland has decided to challenge a club on its accounts? Hibs are trying to do a deal with Bournemouth and the SFA has voted it through by altering its own rules to allow it; I don’t believe either of those things are in the best interests of Hibs or the people who want to get involved, and that this won’t end well … but most of the questions weren’t in relation to that at all, they were in relation to the finances.
There was, however, an additional issue brought up, with the Hibs chairman and with one of their fan reps; the thorny subject of the fan’s shareholding in the club being diluted to allow this deal to happen, and that’s controversial as everybody is well aware.
But again, this is something that the Ibrox board has done time and time and time and time again, with fan shareholders groups being royally grafted in the process.
They were well on their way to a 10% share or even a 15% share in their club and it all slipped away because the club won an AGM vote on being able to dilute the voting power of those shares and it has done so on several occasions since either as part of debt for equity switcheroo deals or to bring in “outside investors.”
It is not for nothing that Celtic fan sites compare an Ibrox fan share certificate to toilet paper, except that the bog roll is probably worth more if you were trying to flog it.
Don’t get me wrong, I am glad Hibs fans are a bit pissed off and I am glad the media appears to be on their side.
Do I feel sympathy for Ibrox fans who were too stupid to see it coming?
No, not in the least, not in this lifetime because they are the most gullible fans on the face of the Earth to have ever believed a word that came out of Dodgy Dave King’s mouth … but the media let what happened at Ibrox go off without once putting those questions to the people who mattered over there.
The kid gloves treatment Ibrox gets every single time they pull a stroke like this stands in flagrant contrast to how the Hibs official was treated on that show.
The media is only interested in doing its job when it suits them, and when it isn’t rocking the boat at the club they are all still way too scared of.
That’s why I’m not writing about the situation at Hibs but about the one at Sky Sports Scotland, who after years of silence have finally expressed a view on this stuff. You have to wonder; when we’ve spent all these years covering the subject, where the Hell have they been?