As the World Cup draws to its climax I delved into some internet football websites to check out when Celtic would be playing their qualifying game for the Champion’s League group stages in the 2014-15 season campaign. My wife got her Irish passport a year ago and I’ve been eager for her to attend a game but only on the right occasion. It must be planned for her to enjoy the true Celtic experience and one of the best atmospheres in global club football.
It is a sad fact that without Rangers around, Park Head is hardly worth a visit unless it is a cup game or preferably a big European night. Only on a European night does the atmosphere come close to the best in all Britain (if not Europe) when Celtic used to play Rangers. Now we usually manage a couple of good home performances in the Champion’s League before being dumped out on our ‘hoops’. So, I was eager to research our chances of going into the hat for the group stage draw and imagined who we may host if all goes to plan.
It was while doing this delving online that I got sidetracked into an article on how those in charge at Rangers have blown upwards of £70 million in just 18 months and all to win League One and promotion to Championship and to come runners up in the Ramsden Cup. (the Ramsden Cup?) The more I read the more astounded I became and the more any thoughts of a credible threat to Celtic emanating from Ibrox in the coming decade receded.
The Ramsden’s Cup? For those like me who had no idea I checked it out and here is what I found. The 2013–14 Scottish Challenge Cup in which Rangers finished runners up, was also popularly called the Ramsden’s Cup after the sponsors Harry Ramsden’s. It was the 23rd season of the competition and was entered by 32 clubs which included the 30 members of the Scottish Football League along with the top two Highland Football League clubs; esteemed company indeed. Other notables in the competition previously were Inverurie Loco Works who finished fourth and Wick Academy, eighth in the Highland Football League who had qualified for the competition by virtue of being asked to compete following their work in the SFA's Club Licensing programme. It was stated that ‘giants’ such as Buckie Thistle (sounds like something I may have drank in the park during my teens) and Deveronvale had been ruled out one year due to having being ‘invited’ into the previous season's competition.
I then scoured a few articles to see just what the heck was going on at Ibrox and it made very black reading indeed for the club but even more so for its fan base. Under a huge headline in today’s July 5th 2014 ‘HeraldScotland’ (Sunday Herald) “Rangers Missing £70 Million: blame laid on Green, Mather, Stockbridge, and Ahmad” we are told:
Football finance analysts expressed shock after the full extent of the Ibrox club's parlous finances were yesterday revealed by new chief executive Graham Wallace, who conducted the 120-day review. They predict that the Glasgow giants would struggle to regain their dominant position in Scottish sport soon and would also need a substantial injection of funds to stay in business”.
The Sunday Herald report by Jody Harrison goes on to reveal such wee gems of business practice as highlighted by Ken Pattullo, partner at Begbies Traynor insolvency experts. ‘It is astonishing that a club could negotiate deals without lawyers present, which is detailed in the report, while also spending £700,000 on lawyers’ fees’. Mr Pattullo confirmed that Rangers were indeed as good as on ‘financial life support’.
The incredible thing is that it was of more interest to Rangers supporters if the club would be opting for an Orange away kit than what was actually going on in the boardroom during all this. For this to come so soon after the club went into liquidation in order to avoid payment to HMRC an outstanding debt of an estimated £50 million is indeed stranger than fiction. I’m no accountant and in fact am terrible at ‘sums’, but would Rangers not have been better to spend that £70 million on the debt and the money left over on players?
The article goes on to list how £2 million plus was spent on wifi and stadium improvements which were simply unnecessary. An estimated £5.6 million was also spent on none first team players which essentially means as the report points out, on players not even up to the standard of Scotland’s lowest tier at that time.
The people in charge of Rangers are said to have limited experience in running a football club and therefore mistakes have been made! If the supporters cannot be brought back on board and season tickets sold then the club is in serious peril, again.
To date club figures put the season ticket sales at 17,000 as rightly angry and dismayed Rangers fans flounder about trying to find a Fergus McCann type figure or a group of individuals with integrity, capital and a love of the club to save it. The fans have dug deep into their pockets and watched the money evaporate into thin air by a board giving themselves bonuses for winning division one and coming second in the Harry Ramsden’s Cup.
Richard Gough, ex Rangers player and a few others entered the fray recently but beat a hasty retreat. It is indeed looking glum for the Gers. Looking glum too for Celtic fans like me, for regardless of what some may say, if we don’t qualify for the Champions League proper it will be half empty Park Head most of the season. Whilst 35,000 may make Ibrox look full, a half empty Park Head doesn’t entice me to travel across.
Harry Ramsden's is a restaurant chain which specialises in the simple and popular British favourite, fish and chips. The business has an estimated 35 outlets throughout the UK and Ireland and serves a ‘guestimated’ four million meals per year. It is Britain's longest established restaurant chain. The business was started by Harry Ramsden in 1928 in a wooden hut in White Cross, West Yorkshire England. Three years later he moved into new premises, upgrading the ambience with fitted carpets, oak paneled walls and chandeliers. The original wooden hut premises still stand adjacent to the main restaurant. Harry Corbett of Sooty and sweep fame was a nephew of Harry Ramsden and played the piano in the original wooden hut restaurant. (not a lot of people know that).
From little Acorns and Catholic soup kitchens in Glasgow, great Oaks grow! Could it be the moral in that story is don’t waste £70 million of fans money on players in a ‘pub-league’ trying to act as if the club is still in the top flight? The club seems to be in total denial acting as if it is in the big-time and squandering the fans money. Where the money actually went is just the latest mystery in the never ending story of Rangers financial dealings. Read up on yer uncle ‘arry Rangers fans, you could do worse.
If the club survives and Rangers hopefully do return to the SPL next season it could be great fun. As they wallow in debt singing their favorite song “Hello! Hello!! We are the Billy Boys, up to our neck in fenian (RC) blood surrender or you’ll die” it could be a full decade of the hilarious Celtic fans response, ‘Ha Ha! HaHa!! HaHaHaHaHaHa!!’ as we thrash them all the way to TEN IN A ROW. Season ticket time for Park-head come that eventuality. Unfortunately we may have a bit of a wait just yet as Rangers must see off Hearts, Hibs and Raith Rovers among other serious contenders in the race for a return to the SPL.
A Celtic supporter who refers to Celtic Park as Park Head and wants "Rangers" who were liquidated back into the SPFL?ReplyDelete
Ach, God love them Larry, HMRC, or, to you and me, the Revenue Commissioners, might be calling again so.ReplyDelete
You do know that it was Ramsdens the pawnbrokers who sponsored that trophy, don't you? You surely haven't written a blog about Harry Ramsdens fish & chip shops b mistake,have you? You're not an obsessed idiot, are you?ReplyDelete
Ramsdens the sponsor do pawnbroking, gold buying, foreign currency and payday loans. All the slagging online threads are mushy peas and fish n chips. (soup kitchens - business model?)Have some humour. Same as Celtic Brigade Neanderthals who would prefer only themselves (about 3000) in an otherwise empty stadium watching Celtic V Ross County than see Rangers back. It really is not that serious. Biggest games this season in Scotland will be in the 2nd tier.
Menace, recon they will do the double shortly, liquidated twice. their fans have been deliberately milked by scoundrels and whilst detesting their fans, Scottish football will be shite without the Old Firm, it was shite enough with it.
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good light hearted piece. As for the mistake if you don't make them you don't learn from them. Easy enough done. Keep writing
Celtic need to join a better league. I didn't like watching us play Rangers so many times when we played 4 games in the league and often 1 or 2 cup games in the same season. I would love to see a Celtic v Rangers this season in a cup. However, it will be no contest.ReplyDelete
On the other hand I couldn't care less if we never played Rangers again if it meant we could join English football and work our way into the Premier league . The Celtic v Rangers fixture is a hate fest. I know that the division between the supporters is what makes for such a unique atmosphere, but it can be poisonous. Glasgow certainly becomes a more menacing environment on these occasions.
A question to all you Irish men and women who support teams in England: Surely you'd support the bhoys in green if we joined the Premier league? If we played in that league we wouldn't need rich Arabs, Russians or Americans to make us one of top 5 biggest clubs in the world
Happy birthday Larry - forgot that in the midst of old firm mania!!ReplyDelete
Ta for that, though counting them is too painful now.
Think regards Joe Denver's post Rangers fans would have been wise to consider taking their £70 million away from Ibrox and applying to the English league at the very bottom. Those in charge just now will leave a bleached skeleton of a club and walk away laughing.