Delighted Aberdeen are now free of their “debt servicing burden” after long-term supporters Willie and Elaine Donald proposed to reduce net debt by an astonishing £14.9m. The club have been able to service their debt but it’s been caught between paying for old overspends and driving ahead with a new stadium to provide for its future.
Aberdeen has a vibrant business and corporate entertainment sector which the club is well-placed to exploit. In the right environment, specifically, playing a regional league with a new stadium, they could be transformed into a European power, as they were back in the day.
Unfortunately, it’s not all rosy positive financial news for Scottish football clubs. Rangers International’s statement to the stock market this morning confirmed that Mike Ashley’s £2m loan will not be enough to see the club through to the end of this month. Ash’ has provided a further £1m, which will take them through to the second week in December – at least!
The statement confirms yet more money will be needed before the end of the year and that the directors have begun a cost cutting exercise. So where does this leave them?
Living week-to-week is fine if you are within sight of season ticket renewal deadline but that’s six months away. The funding requirement to get them to that day is likely to be north of £10m, with Ashley now the only wallet in town.
A great deal of analysis is taking place over his commitment to the SFA that he’ll not acquire more than 10% of the club, but this overlooks all the important factors, specifically that owning more share capital is neither necessary nor helpful to Ashley.
Football clubs are a collection of businesses. There is the football, of course, but there is also a media business (print, online), retail services, brand merchandising, corporate hospitality, there’s advertising space to fill, and with some, there’s a link to a charity, which requires administration.
The charity and football operations cost money but everything else tends to make a profit. Football clubs are horrible entities to manage. You have unrealistic competitive pressures, fans who demand conflicting objectives and your performance can be undermined by a defender’s lapse, before you’re scrutinised in public. Only lunatics would apply.
By contrast, corporate retail management is a walk in the park. Ashley already has a healthy share of Newco’s retail, merchandising and IP rights. He can and will make money out of them, and no one has been able to tell me why he’d be remotely interested in owning an ounce more than Rangers International.
The funding which will get the club through the rest of the season is likely to cost them all those profitable income streams in perpetuity. There’s a good chance security will be required over the property assets too.
Newco is pretty much hollowed-out already but the scavenging isn’t finished. By the time the consequences of all that ‘we will continue to act like a big club’ nonsense of the last two years has comes home to roost, the cost of their hubris will be laid bare to even the most blinkered mind.
All of this was inevitable when Sir David Muray overruled his board’s recommendation and sold out oldco to a liquidation expert.
TIME CHANGE Remember, we’ve got Davie Hay on the blog tomorrow from 9:30 – 11:30.
You can get copies of Caesar & the Assassin, Billy McNeill and Davie Hay’s accounts of managing Celtic from Jock Stein’s departure until the appointment of Liam Brady, signed by both Billy and Davie here.