Dave King yesterday announced he would resign from Newco’s board following a share issue, to take place early in the new year, almost five years since his concert party won control of the club in March 2015.
The contrast with Fergus McCann, who also stated a successful hostile takeover bid for a lost-looking football club, in 1994, could not be starker. Fergus left with the Scottish Premier League trophy in the boardroom. I looked for a photo of Fergus with the trophy, but there doesn’t seem to be one in circulation. It was not Fergus’ style to flaunt his achievements.
When a Newco historian looks for the principle achievement of Dave King’s time, the image of Tom Rogic’s penalty kick sailing over the Hampden crossbar in the 2016 Scottish Cup semi-final will be top of the list. That sent Newco into their only major final to date, they face Celtic in next month’s League Cup final.
Five years ago, King arrived with an irresistible commitment to spend “whatever it takes” to topple Celtic. When the club’s Nomad resigned ahead of him taking control, he suggested another would be in place within 48 hours (we are still waiting). Once in control he explained that Newco’s finances were the envy of the football world. Seriously.
There were mad suggestions, like taking Oldco out of liquidation, surely made after a liquid lunch, and the aborted plan to sue David Murray for £20m, which came to nowt. Where King did achieve legendary status was in Shirebrook, the Derbyshire location of the Sports Direct head office. King’s years in charge of Newco literally saw no end of legal challenges and defeats at the hands of Mike Ashley. King will continue to oversee the outstanding legal cases against Sports Direct.
The most pernicious defeat King experienced came last month, when the Takeover Panel ‘cold shouldered’ him, a punishment which forbids any entity of financial advisor can act for King on a transaction governed by the Takeover Panel for four years. This was punishment for the concert party breaking Takeover Panel rules in gaining control of the club in 2015.
While Fergus slipped away from Celtic Park unnoticed while a game was underway and the Premier League Trophy on display, King announced his departure with nothing to show but tears and a solitary second place finish. He has committed to meet this season’s shortfall, but yesterday explained his business in South Africa was in need of greater support.
On arrival in 1994, Fergus promised to leave after 5 years and did so, King chose this exit moment due to current events. You can accept his explanation, that Newco are no longer in need of his unique brand of wisdom, that his South African interests have become irresistible, or I can offer an alternative.
Celtic are about to win nine-in-a-row, King’s available money has dried up and he wants to be thousands of miles and several months away from Govan when it all goes down.
I’ll miss him, he’s been wonderful.