Thoroughly enjoying yesterday’s coordinated effort by Newco fans who have rushed to the coattails of Dave King. To be fair to the fans, the time for them to act was years ago, before Sir David Murray set Oldco on a path to destruction, there is little positive that can be done now. Still, that’s no reason to dive headlong into destruction.
After the debacle of 2012, when Oldco were liquidated, the assets were scooped up by people who wanted to make a lot of money. The moment Charles Green and his consortium owned the assets, this reality should have been acknowledged. No amount of 13th hour Blue Knight revisionism was going to change things.
Green made off with his money a year ago, but as a consequence of that, there are newer investors, with exactly the same objectives. There are also local investors in the form of the Easdale brothers. Neither of these groups will be bullied into submission.
King’s escrow plan, which hopes to gain security of the stadium and Murray Park, cannot be accommodated by the club. How many fans do you think they will convince to hand their season ticket money over, 1000? As many as 3000? Whatever your guess figure, this does not have the look of a high participation endeavour.
With many more fans likely to renew, and more still likely to be completely turned off by the nonsense, the The Rangers Football Club Ltd have a legal duty to their shareholders (Rangers International PLC) and creditors (coincidentally, also Rangers International PLC) to retain security of company assets. Placing them beyond the reach of creditors would be a remarkably brave and self-defeating act.
It now suits the club for King’s plan to appear to be effective, or at the very least, reduce season ticket renewals to a trickle. They can cite this as the action which tips The Rangers Football Club Ltd into administration. As the overwhelmingly major creditor, Rangers International would control this administration and their agents will set about reducing costs.
I would expect to see Newco to continue trading as a youth team for the foreseeable future, with Rangers International taking security of Ibrox and Murray Park, to satisfy their unresolved debt. This will be sold to the masses as ‘securing the stadium’, but it would be the key separation of club and stadium which King as sought to prevent.
Going forward, The Rangers Football Club Ltd will have no significant assets, no playing assets to speak of, and a substantial rental to pay to Rangers International, whose shareholders will still require their financial return. Don’t lose sight of this, the Piper Always Needs to be Paid. Always.
I haven’t revisited the RIPLC accounts which drew comment last week (might be worth an update later), but the important information to glean from them is the cost of running a football operation at a stadium which can occasionally host >40,000 people. You’re looking at circa £19m annually, before you employ a footballer.
I don’t see a way forward. This is a dead multi-club football franchise, killed by 1,000 reckless acts. Even the youth team scenario is unaffordable.
The hedge funds will know this already. Remember what John Brown claims Charles Green told him he would do to Ibrox if he was messed with? Raze it to the ground, apparently. After Newco Youth Team has spent a year-or-so bouncing around, we’ll hear that Ibrox is unsustainable as a football stadium (which I could believe). It will be razed and re-designated as an industrial area.
Celtic better have their plans in place now, as should the rest of Scottish football. There was a notion that there would be a three year hiatus before it was business as usual. This will not be the case.
We need to stand together, as a club, and with other clubs, wherever possible. We need to support the game, primarily through season ticket purchases, but we must find common ground with other clubs and fans.
Everything was wrong about football back then. Stadiums were not so much designed, they were built to fit the space and available materials. The lower Leppings Lane end of Hillsborough will be remembered as the worst terracing in football but, in truth, it was just where the next big disaster happened. It could have been anywhere.
After a decade or so of football hooliganism in England, fans were penned in, 8’ fences blocked entrance to the field, some topped with barbed wire. If you were at the fence, you were staying there until the thousands behind you headed home. Hampden Park had these fences, a legacy of the 1980 Cup Final, but they were absent from other grounds in Scotland. The Jungle had some high fencing but with regular breaks. If you wanted to get onto the field, you could do so.
Leppings Lane had further chronic safety violations. As well as a fence at the front the terrace was divided into four pens with fences running back to front. Once through the turnstile, fans were free to choose which pens to join; most would choose the central two. Of course they would.
The central two pens were accessed via a tunnel running under the upper stand. On That Day, fans entering at the rear of the tunnel had no inclination of the crush ahead. By the time they were part of the crush, others had gathered behind them. Space to retreat was quickly lost.
The outer pens were empty, the central two, death-traps. Fans piling into the tunnel knew nothing of the crisis ahead.
For some minutes it was possible for the police to burst open the pens and allow fans to flood free onto the pitch but they were still in crowd control mode. By the time they realised there was a disaster underway, it was too late.
There were lies and cover-ups. Fans were blamed, and accused of atrocious acts, all untrue. The government were complicit. The Sun were the worst media offenders but by no means the only one.
Two weeks ago a fresh inquiry into the events of that day opened in Warrington. At long last, the truth, which we’ve all known for years, will out. Too late for many campaigners and bereaved, who died fighting the combined weight of the establishment, but welcome nonetheless.
Tomorrow, CQN’er, Iain McGovern, sets off on a 232 mile walk from Celtic Park to Anfield, where he hopes to arrive 11 days later, in aid of the Lola Commons Fund for SiMBA. It’s his way of commemorating Hillsborough. Supporting him could be yours.
I’m delighted (actually excited) to confirm John Hughes will be on the blog on Thursday morning. John is Celtic’s seventh highest goal scorer in our 126 year history. He has remarkable insights into some of the great times and characters of our history. Tune in and ask him questions online.[calameo code=000390171b8e5a2cffbcc lang=en page=114 hidelinks=1 width=100% height=500]