Donald, Ashley, cost of hubris laid bare


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.

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  1. sunny calmachie



    I think I would be more nervous if I saw you coming anywhere near me and there’s drink around!






    Yes, Big Jock liked to play me in midfield against John Greig. I think Jock believed Greigy was ruling the roost in there against us and he put me in to let him know – ahem! – was around.

  2. Davie



    Seeing it’s quieter, can I ask this again?






    Enjoying your replies. Seeing as some have asked 2 or 5 questions in the one post, can I ask, if the board had been more supportive financially in your time as manager, would a certain Peter Beardsley have joined Pierce O’Leary on the flight from Vancouver to Glasgow?



    Hail Hail!

  3. Richie #TeamOscarForever on




    Sure am! See you ramorra. LFT got tickets for the game so I’m going to Paradise after the Blane.

  4. Mr Hay


    Can you wish



    Richie #TeamOscarForever




    From all of us :)))))


    Thank you for your time and the memories again.


    Till later all

  5. Beatbhoy



    Peter Beardsley was an excellent player and we all knew he had a soft spot for Celtic. But we also knew the English clubs were beginning to take notice and they would have paid big money for him.






    Cheers for that. Just as well the prices were low considering I had to buy the Nottingham Forest squad a round!






    Lubo was a marvellous player, one of the best two-footed players I have ever seen. Any team in the world would be delighted to have suck a creative player in their line-up.



    bada! bing!!!!



    Guidetti up front is great with Johansen further forward that works, too, with Brown and Mulgrew further back. Forrest on the right and Commons on the left could do the trick, too.

  6. auldheid



    That was a truly memorable day – one of the best in my career. By the way, Winning Captains tells me you have been doing an outstanding job, so keep up the good work.

  7. Neil canamalar Lennon hunskelper extrordinaire on

    Mr Hay,


    Do you still go and watch other teams looking for up and coming players ?


    Do you keep in touch with people you had scouting and are there any young players you are hearing about who you’d like to go watch ?

  8. Davie,


    Do you remember attending a party in a Toronto apartment in 1970 ? I thought it ironic that you guys brought a case of Heineken, having just lost the EC. final to the Dutch team.



    You were a very impressive group of dedicated young professionals. I remember you, Vic Davidson, Kenny Dalglish and Lou Macari being there……all perfectly behaved. Couple of the older guys seemed to enjoy their drinks !

  9. Pogmathonyahun aka Laird of the Smiles on

    Just popped in from work to say hi. Greetings from Germany Davie from one old St Mirin’s Academy pupil to another.


    I hope you are keeping well. Don’t have time for a question as need to go back to work, maybe next time.

  10. Davie Hay thanks for the memories especially Love Street, still the only time I’ve invaded the park!

  11. Hi davie . Following on from your reply on big jock playing you in midfield against Grieg . Can I ask how long will it take you to get match fit , because we need someone to take care of mcculloch , as at the moment we don’t have anyone capable .

  12. Davie…thanks for the Love Street memory. Lived in Paisley at the time. I got into trouble from a teacher by saying that our feelings that day were like the Apostles waiting for the Resurrection…they hoped it would happen, thought it would happen, not sure it would.. Then the joy and exultation of the event when it unfolded.

  13. That’s it for today. Thanks for all your kind words and messages. Always much appreciated. I’ve now got writer’s cramp with all the books I’ve signed. I’ve still got piles to do, but take my word I will get through them all. I have to say I think the book looks brilliant. I love the title ‘Caesar and The Assassin’. I’m hoping to get to Greenock a week tomorrow to see the best fans in the world.


    You can buy the book at Celtic stores, other book shops or on CQNbookstore.com

  14. jimtim



    12:05 on 13 November, 2014


    Hi davie . Following on from your reply on big jock playing you in midfield against Grieg . Can I ask how long will it take you to get match fit , because we need someone to take care of mcculloch , as at the moment we don’t have anyone capable .




    Oh I think Guidetti will be more than capable of looking after that big lump of wood, I think you will see the usual from McClugger falling down, and rolling about holding his face, it’s his party piece, and at this time and present he is not even a worry for us, we got bigger fish to fry, that game will look after its self when it comes, IMO.