High Ground edition 11; dateline 2 March 2012
While Scotland basks in unseasonal heat, another type of heat is felt at arguably our biggest sporting organisation, Rangers FC as it is still known for the time being at least. Revelations FC might not be that bad a new handle during the administration period and if liquidation isn’t avoided perhaps Resurrection FC might be a suitable title. The whole story looks like a mixture of French farce with the non-signing of Daniel Cousin, Oceans Eleven, Twelve and Thirteen rolled into one, and probably a mixture of Reservoir Dogs, Forrest Gump and Walter Mitty when it comes to the now former new chairman/owner/chief creditor, Mr Whyte. Seriously he is Mr Whyte!
MacSideliner like a lot of regular folks finds it challenging (difficult) to work out the myriad complexities (cheating?) involved in high-end business dealings. So apparently you can, if your background is in hedge-funding/asset stripping or something similar, simply buy something apparently very expensive for either very little money (say £1) or not pay at all by using some of the value in the thing you are buying to pay for your purchase. Do you follow? (or follow follow if reading in OldFirmese). Well pay attention at the back and MacSideliner will try to explain, and will also try out this City financier approach next time the Macmobile is ready to be replaced with a new set of wheels.
It’s simple. Just walk into the showroom and find a car that seems really expensive but has had no real buyer interest to date. Then give the impression that you are pretty well off – mention the City a few times and hint that you are minted. Offer the garage the opportunity to sell the car for a pound with the rationale that no-one else has appeared and wanted to buy it yet, and that it might have some mechanical problems stored up. If that doesn’t go down well enough then keep your pound safe and as you are processing whatever transaction that might have be agreed, get the garage or a bank or anyone to advance you the new purchase price from a figure based upon what the car might be worth sometime in the future.
As long as you keep the taxman out of this perfect storm of business methodolgy then you are laughing all the way to the nationalised bank. You won’t, of course, be able to hear yourself laughing for the cacophony of guffawing from the bankers inside as they look at their new ‘reduced’ bonus cheques on top of their new massively increased basic salaries. Console yourself that you may have actually joined their league, perhaps as part of the new pyramid system. Remember the only way to measure good top people and high-quality work is to offer bonuses on top of salary on a ratio of at least double your dosh – you know it makes sense – unless of course you are a public sector worker maybe taking peoples rubbish off the street, cleaning a hospital ward or, dare it be said, working in a leisure centre; or is everyone part of the voluntary charity sector nowadays?
The thing is though, Rangers FC is/was actually a significantly sized business and employer as well as a social and cultural institution, warts and all. So like any sizeable potential folding business, government agencies and others are required to try to assist in making the best of a bad situation. The brand is a strong one with an international dimension from across the Scottish diaspora, has a significant customer base and media interest levels that many other businesses merely dream of in terms of sponsorship etc. So we have witnessed commentary from the first minister Alex Salmond, a Hearts fan, which may not help too much given the Jambos’ financial pedigree under the Russian Lithuanian oligarch and submarine commander, Mr Romanov, or maybe it does. It’s all very EU-friendly – our indigenous Scottish chancer is just as iffy as your Lithuanian one?
So is it really a case of ‘you can’t have one without the other’? Well Celtic-minded individuals would tell you otherwise, and with some degree of delight.
One of our Sunday broadsheets used to run a league table called Life Without the Old Firm, showing what the championship race would look like if Rangers and Celtic were to run off like lovers over the border to the promised land of the Premiership. Now they have another scenario called Life without the other Half. Rangers docked 10 points for going into administration makes it a league of one this season and, depending on what happens next, that could go on for several seasons. One close confidant of MacSideliner always suggested that the rest of the Scottish Premier League should breakaway from the Old Firm and set up on their own, and then invite Rangers and Celtic to join them once the two clubs realise you can’t really play in a league of two. Sponsors wouldn’t really fancy that either, just as they probably wouldn’t fancy investing as much as they have previously in a Scottish club football scene that had only one very dominant team and a pretty much predetermined outcome of the league across a season. Celtic and Rangers are the Ying and Yang of Scottish top flight footy, the Ali-Frazier, the Borg-McEnroe or perhaps the Chuckle Brothers.
Getting over the line
Not a reference to balance sheet accounting at a Scottish Premier League club near you, but of course the fact that the Scottish rugby team scored not one but two, yes two, tries against the second best (and only just) team on the planet, France. Scotland still lost again but not a glorious failure this time, more of a formidable (or rather formidable in a French accent) one.
They said that it was the mighty Clive, just call me Sir, Woodward was the man with the chat, and wot won it for England back in whenever it was, but I’m now thinking that Andy is pretty handy at the positive talking game. We are improving, getting better, looking to deliver, fantastic in training, good for 60, 70 or choose a number of minutes, and, yeah, we still aren’t winning but let’s focus on the big picture, guys. Mick McCarthy will be up at the next SRU coach mentoring seminar for tips.
But wait, perhaps the green heather shoots of recovery are starting to bloom (aye heather is purple but just go with me, eh?) Young Stuart Hogg is really exciting and other nations must have been looking up the ‘who do you think you are’ websites after the George Best family connections came up and video of Stuart in action became available. Our Zimbabwean Scot (it’s like a Samoan Englishman) David Denton could knock holes in most defences and add to that our soon to be Flying Dutchman/Scotsman Tim MacVisser and we might just be able to actually beat some teams.
The High Ground
An alternative view of the Scottish sport, leisure and culture landscape