Not for the first time around Ibrox, we’re deep into denial territory than an insolvency incident is imminent. A whole load of irrelevant questions have been answered; they will not go into administration on ‘Sash Wednesday’, nor will a board meeting be convened today, but the pertinent question, whether club consultant Philip Nash, and director Graham Wallace, have held pre-administration talks, remains curiously unaddressed.
My information is that administration is only one of a number of options under consideration.
They have alternatives. A sale and leaseback of the stadium and (still magnificently named) Murray Park could provide the club with enough money to see them through until season ticket renewal time next year, when they have a chance of being in the Premiership. If it was your objective to maintain shareholder value, this must surely be considered. Cast your mind over what we know about the bulk of the shareholders and there should be no doubt about their priorities. These are not shareholders who will accept cumulative losses or even a pound-in-pound-out model.
They could continue to secure assets against borrowing from hedge fund-shareholders at an interest rate of 30%. This is an attractive return for a hedge fund. If they secure the stadium in return for a future loan they will be in a position to earn attractive returns from whichever club plays there for many years to come.
If you are a fan, or indeed, a director of Oldco, who set on a path to liquidation, this reality will feel intolerable. Those responsible for strategy, oversight and governance at Oldco set the wheels in motion; Newco’s burden is a consequence of Oldco trying to put their rivals in their place, and allowing the wolves in.
Intolerable though the situation may be, I’m not sure what can be done about it. Using season ticket sales to threaten to subvert the value of investments made by hedge funds, and shareholders who have made it their absolute priority to remain anonymous, is incredibly risky. Incredibly. Risky.
Here’s the question, are those anonymous investors likely to submit to threats, or are they the kind of people who can afford to play hardball and would raze the stadium to the ground rather than be bullied?
My guess is we are talking about hardnosed, wealthy individuals, who will forever remain anonymous and who have never been bullied by minority shareholder action in their lives. It’s easy to whip football fans into a pitchfork-esque revolt, 10 years of CQN has provided regular evidence of this (mostly over comparatively trivial misinformation), but if this was my club, I’d be going off my head at the behaviour of just about everyone involved and I don’t think I’d be able to sleep at night.
‘Seville’, the book detailing the incredible stories you, the Celtic support, experienced and set down on record, is out this month. To order your copy click on the link below.