Tag Archives: Hibernian FC

Exuberance – Shock and Awe

24 May

There was a time not so long ago that no matter what accusation was placed at the Doors of Ibrox the Club would remain silent.  Silence is Golden as they say.  It may of been golden but it left the Rangers Loyal adrift.  The dark days of the now defunct ‘Rangers Tax Case’ internet domination with its made up facts and defamation being given free reign to say anything and go unchallenged are thankfully gone. 

The PR operation at Rangers has gone from a shy retiring librarian cowering in the corner in the basement of Ibrox to a Professional well run machine.  The Press Office is a joy to deal with.  The Public Relations Department outsourced to a PR Company have not only tackled the tricky issues but have released competent cohesive statements. 

In the last few days since the William Hill Scottish Cup Final the public face of Rangers have not only proudly represented the Club but have provided a voice that the Rangers Fans have been able to agree fully with.  A difficult balancing act but one skillfully managed by Rangers Football Club. 

A immediate After match statement delivered by James Traynor in Collaborative tones with hint of righteous anger juxtapose favourably with the Car Crash Conference given by Rod Petrie some time later. 

Where James was succinct to the point, Petrie was rambling and borderline offensive.  Petrie could of in fact should of taken a page out of the  Rangers book of 5 years ago and said nothing. 

Rangers said their piece and also said no further statement from the club would be forthwith until at least Monday.  Then quietly left to no doubt bandage up the wounds.  A key factor is that Saturday Night was silent from Ibrox not even a Player Tweet.  Rangers shut down and shut up.  Nothing required to be added, a all points shut down in the media. 

The events were discussed at length on Radio, Television and newspapers.  Thee vast majority of Journalists agreeing on events.  Certainly all the Journalists in attendance with the exception of One agreed.  One Man who was there no Lover of Rangers found excessive fault in a small section of Rangers Fans behaviour.  This man is shunned by colleagues within the Press Pack he cuts a isolated figure sitting alone and never engaged in long conversations with others as is the Norm.  I won’t name him as he is indeed a Victim of his own press and I for one do not like to Bully sad and lonely figures.

Some appeared on Radio being petty and illinformed using hastily cut away television pictures as their guide.  Again a untrustworthy source given a platform to spout his skewed views. 

The vitriolic biased view of these two and selected others.  The lack of common decency from Hibernian Football Club to enquire about the well being of fellow members of the Football Family.  The words of the Scottish PFA stand as a damning indictment of the simple task of checking on a Man’s health. 

The lack of a Statement from Scottish Government so vocal in previous Football issues lead Rangers to feel forced to issue an additional Statement.&nbspGone are the days when you could say what you want about Rangers and go without challenge. 

The SFA are in the midst of their biggest crisis since Jock Stein died.  As Hosts, Promoters and Up keepers of the laws. Stuart Regan and co can not charge, blame or blame themselves themselves for failure to Police or Steward a game appropriately as they will learn lessons no doubt about it.  In my opinion there was amply Stewards and Police in  attendance.  Let’s face it no one at 1455 looked about and thought there is not enough fluorescent  jackets.  If anything one though maybe too many. 

The lessons learned in this regard in my view is how can you get a quick reaction to events such as the ones following the final whistle.  The sight of professional Footballer being rescued from assault by their own Clubs staff and Match Officials while the majority of Police and  Stewards awaited orders or guarded the Tunnel was a disgrace. 

Rangers have consistently Praised the majority of Rangers fans for showing restraint.  Accepting the fact some who would claim Self Defence or Provocation shamed the Govan Club with their actions. They are no excuses no justification for any fan to invade the pitch.  No colours no over exuberance no lengthy period of joylessness.  Self defence only cuts so far. Falling victim to being provoked even extreme provocation still makes you wrong it won’t stand up as a defence in Court. 

The pictures show that substantially more Green was on the pitch than Blue.  It was clearly Hibs fans damaging Goal Posts.  For any student of history would direct you to Wembley 1977 for how fragile the Goal Frame actually is. So it was hardly surprising the frame lay in ruins as David Grey lifted the Trophy.

The ramifications and punishments shall drip into Public Domain.  It seems unlikely the Cup will be ripped from Easter Road. The calls for Hibernian to be stripped of Europa League Place more than likely to only gain volume with the beneficiary not going to Rangers but to League position.  This would mean St Johnstone would play in Europe. This would have to fixed quickly as Tommy Weight surely needs time to Plan. 

Prize money would indeed should be withheld for no other reason than the Branded pictures with Sponsors William Hill appearing in newspapers and television simply don’t exist.  Additional financial payments should be levied because of Damage to pitch this should be reflected in costs incurred.  Remember William Hill were deprived of several Money Shots, Rangers were robbed of public awarding of Runners Up medals, Match Officials were not rewarded publicly for their excellent handling of the game. They did not collect their Accolades in as the Trophy gleamed in the May Sun. The absolute minimum of what happens after a final was ruined, stolen in over exuberance. After being jostled, Assaulted and spat on its only natural for Referees and Rangers Staff alike to immediately think of getting Home safe. The Referees Report should be in Hampden now. Would love for it to be made Public too. You could as we have all done now redact the Match element and just concentrate on the Post Match incidents.

The most immediate lesson for all is don’t be like Rod Petrie SFA official as well as Hibernian Chairman make sure your breifed before opening your mouth. Don’t be like The Scottish Government and Govan MSP Nicola Sturgeon who as first Minister Tweeted her pleasure for Hibernians achievements. This is a Government who had high level Crisis Meetings following a Old Firm debacle bringing in new Laws, condemning a solo lunatic trying to attack Neil Lennon. All old firm fans want is equality, anything less is looked on as anti Old Firm and in law you can’t use laws specifically like that. In government you represent all people not just the ones you like. The Rangers and Celtic do not want special treatment they want equal treatment. Rangers specifically don’t want universal Love, the Club and its Fans know they are roundly hated but all Rangers Staff And fans deserve to have their Safety being a Priority and expect to be treated fairly.

The SFA immediate statement from Stuart Regan as good and well informed as was clearly possible to be hit a tone.  Maybe the crisis meeting agreed no further statements should be issued.  One would imagine SFA officials burned midnight oil and maybe wanted a Sunday of reflection and realisation, allowing the events to be filed in a order without the fog of shock and awe.

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Stubb It Out

20 Aug

Any Club or Manager is well within their Rights to choose who they do business with.  They can pick and decide who to sell Players to whom ever they like.  They can have any motivation they choose to make Public. In fact they can have any motivation they choose not to make public too.

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Allan Stubbs playing the long game at Hungry Hippos

We all understand this but it does not stop the curious case of Allan Stubbs at Hibs.  So ok he says he didn’t want to sell a quality player to a rival, this is ok.  There is no real reason to think any other reason comes into play.  Scott Allan signs for Celtic, Hibs make a profit and life moves on.
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Hibs are due to visit Ibrox and Allan Stubbs concocts a quote on how he considers it a easy job to be Ibrox Manager. Rangers being able to spend almost limitless cash on players at the whim and whimsie of the Manager.

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Rangers Boss Mark Warburton putting up a ballsy defence against misfiring bully boy tactics from along the M8

I have to admit Mark Warburton stood up to this examination of his Rangers Regime rather well. It takes balls to stand up to a bully especially one publicly displaying little knowledge of Rangers History.

It’s not as if the Scouser has ever been more than a visitor at Ibrox. Stubbs rather than concentrating on his own mismanagement of Hibs (look at the start to the season for the Leith Club) or even his disaterious Coaching of the Easter Road side last season (put out of promotion play offs at semi final stage by the worse Rangers squad ever) has decided to turn on the revitalised Teddy Bears under Mark Warburton and David Weir. No mention from the former Celtic centre back of the well publicised rebuilding of the structures and systems within Rangers. No mention that quiet possibly Warburton having to rebuild coaching and scouting and playing squad at Murray Park may be detrimental to the results week in week out. No gentle dig that maybe if Rangers had the Scouting and Coaching Network of Hibernian they could of saved a many column inches in the summer of 2015 by signing free agent Scott Allan in the summer of 2014.

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Mark Warburon and David Weir rebuilding Rangers

Stubbsy devoid of talent, manners, grace and gumption takes aim at Rangers and misses all the easy targets to spectacularly misfire at the one element of the Warburton / Weir management that actually no one had noticed. The reason for no one noticing is that it’s a non issue. Rangers spending this summer has not been extreme. It seems to be well within Budgets of lower end Scottish Premiership and top of Scottish Championship. It is certainly not in the Manchester City or Chelsea or English Premier League levels of many hundreds of millions.

Remember no one put these words into Gormless Gaffer Stubbs mouth. Unless someone is working him from behind no one is forcing him to say these pattently off target remarks. Ir is possible that cash strapped Hibernian will use the transfer fee from Celtic to employ a Public Relations Spin doctor to reel the Manager back into a world that even Hibs Fanatic Irvine Welsh would consider non-fiction. Maybe the Rangers Stubbs remembers facing while a Celtic Player spend wildly but then again wasn’t he in hoops as the product of Celtic splashing the cash?

This is really at the Heart of Stubbs statements every one of his recent tirade against Rangers has exposed his own laughable hypocrisy. Scott Allan asking for a transfer or engineering a transfer from Hibs is in Stubbs’ eyes bad even though it’s exactly what he did as a player at Bolton. Rangers putting unsolicited bids in on Players is distruptive even though His Hibernian Club have put bids in for Players under contract too. Interclub contact being leeked into the public domain even though the news about Scott Allan Old Firm bids came out of Easter Road not Glasgow.

Sir Alex Fergusion was the master of the mind games in his tenure as Manager of Manchester United Allan Stubbs is showing all the signs that he is not even the Master of Hungry Hippos in his management in Leith. In a City full of Comedians every Fringe Festival August Allan Stubbs is appearing in Edinburgh all year round.

Ladbrokes SCOTTISH PREMIERSHIP PREDICTIONS

10 Aug

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Ladbrokes SCOTTISH PREMIERSHIP PREDICTIONS

1
CELTIC

2
ABERDEEN

3
DUNDEE

4
ST JOHNSTONE

5
HEARTS

6
MOTHERWELL

7
INVERNESS CALEDONIAN THISTLE

8
ROSS COUNTY

9
PARTICK THISTLE

10
KILMARNOCK

11
HAMILTON ACADEMICALS

12
DUNDEE UNITED

Once again The Scottish Premiership is upon us and only a fool would tip anyone but Celtic to win it.  Ronny Delia can hardly be flushed with a League, League Cup double and an insipid European adventure that had everything in its story including Lawyers.  Delia has a very tricky job he is not only expected to win the league before the spilt but he has to do this in a style that pleases a massive fan base.  It is very difficult to predict what kind of season Celtic will have but you can say they win this league.  Virgil Van Dyke is a talisman but a failure in Europe will mean that he simply makes the club a nice profit following transfer window.
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Aberdeen in Second a lack of silverware last term did not lose Derek McInnes the fickle Dons Fans support.  Intelligent clever signings like Graeme Shinnie in addition to January signing Kenny McLean adds freshness to the squad as well as increasing the skill level.  A very pacey talented squad with a Manager proving to be in the frame for any bigger job. The big question is have Aberdeen got the bottle to stay in the hunt and run Celtic close.  Drawing at Pittodrie against Partick and dropping points after good results was their downfall last term.  If this club needed a theme tune, it has to be Journeys “Don’t Stop Believing.”

Third Place for me is a surprise and controversially I am pluming for Dundee.  Paul Hartley has managed to turn Club 12 round, the attacking style with solid defence for me is a potent mix, and if you are going to offend a city, you may as well offend half the City.  A visit to Dens dripping in History is a tricky experience and gives the Dark Blues fans something to come out for and Dens is a tricky place that will steal points from any team at any time.

Perth with a couple of years of fleeting European experience comes up with a pleasing fourth for Tommy Wright’s Saints.  The phrase workmanlike is easy on the mind with St Johnstone Scottish Cup Winners in 2014 they seemed to miss Stevie May last year but just when they needed to get it together after Christmas that’s exactly what they did.  Any team that includes veteran James Mc Fadden passing down knowledge to younger players has to be included in your thoughts for good cup runs and occasional shock results.  As soon as they become consistent then they could even challenge higher but a sturdy fourth place.

Robbie Nelson might talk the talk but his Hearts will be broken in a very creditable fifth place.  Edinburgh’s only representative in the top League will be looking to bring some Capital Gains to Old Reekie.  The rampaging style of last season will be thwarted by more drilled skilled teams shutting down the free scoring Jambos.  Losing Danny Wilson and Jason Holt will hurt. Maroon fans have to hope that the latest crop of youth and experience shall keep them in this league and maybe even challenging for cups and looking to stabilise.  The key to smiles in Gorgie this season is post Christmas.  Keeping in the mix will be important to a team that already looks like its running on adrenaline.
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Escaping Relegation last season Ian Barrowclough will look to push on from the lucky escape last year.  From Ugly scenes to a beautiful sixth should please Motherwell.  With a crop of great young players and experience of Stephen Pearson, David Clarkson all bodes well for The Well.  I get a feeling that sixth is as good as it will get for Motherwell with a touch of claret and amber luck they may just trouble the cup semis but a consolidation season safe mid table.

John Hughes has his doubters and fans never not with something to say and always good value and his personality has infused every team he has been connected with.  The Scottish Cup Holders will miss Shinnie as he moved down the A96.  The fear of complacency runs through the Highland capital.  Caledonian Thistle shall do well at Home as the wind blows in off the Morey Firth and will give a good game away too.  Nevertheless, for me they will struggle to hit the highs of last season but again a solid mid table not really challenging but not in any danger of falling out the League or even flirting with the playoff place.

Ross County in eighth is a bit of a punt with several players joining Jim McIntyre’s squad.  Richard Foster tormented at Rangers last year must be trying to regain professional pride for one.  The problem is that as hard as you look at the Dingwall squad you cannot find any real class so you have to look for a well-drilled well-organised team.  Sadly, for the Victoria Park side that given the last couple of Years Foster does not bring that to the table.  A troubled season for Ross County the only saving grace is that there is worse in this league to stop their slide down into the danger zone.

Partick will need more than a scary mascot to survive and in Matthias Pogba they might just have enough to secure survival. He may not be as good as his brother but he is good enough to please the well-worn Maryhill Faithful.  As you would expect Firhill will supply thrills, spills and some skills hand in hand with Lisa Simpson on acid and surprises too.  Staying up with the big boys is all this club wants they will sacrifice cups to simply stay in this league and they will.

Kris Boyd, Lee McCullough join Gary Locke in a Kilmarnock team that looks on paper tired and plays worse shipping goals and looking disjoined its going to be a long season on plastic at Rugby Park.  With Questions still being unanswered in the boardroom and seats going unsold in the stands this is a club in free fall.  Like Partick above them, the numbers game means that teams worse than them will save them. Ayrshire fans must hope that. Something like a foundation lying season is in front of them and all eyes shall be on season 2016-17.  There is enough talent at this club but a lack of gelling and cohesiveness will be the failure.

Hamilton will want to forget 2015 already and I feel this year will not appear in any big selling DVDs at the club shop Martin canning has simply not been able to keep up the standards of Norwich’s Alex Neil.  There may well be a new sensational young player bursting from the most productive youth system in Scotland but August to January saved this club last season and without a great start like that again then this club will simply slip quietly into eleventh and the play off position.  With my other prediction for the Ladbrokes Scottish Championship a rematch against Hibs seems likely and that tie if it occurs already has the mouth watering.  A lowly position but without any light it seems a dark season is in the offing for Accies.
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Twelfth place in my predictions goes to Dundee United.  I simply do not care how financially greedy the club was.  I also do not care how much commission Jackie McNamara got if you lose Makay-Stevens, Armstrong and Cifti then it is no wonder you lose games.  I am not saying these players are bigger than the club is but as a collection of loses it means you lose and lose badly.  United look disjointed without a direction and a shambles of the side that started last season.  I predict also that the Manager must be favourite to be sacked this season.

SCOTTISH CHAMPIONSHIP PREDICTIONS 2015-16

7 Aug

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Ladbrokes SCOTTISH CHAMPIONSHIP PREDICTIONS

1
Rangers

2
Hibernian

3
Falkirk

4
Queen Of The South

5
Raith Rovers

6
Dumbarton

7
Alloa

8
St Mirren

9
Livingston

10
Morton

Once again the Championship is where it is at.  Already taken up more column inches and the season has not started yet. 

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Rangers simple have to win this year. No one could have predicted the catastrophic events on and off the field last season and Mark Warburton has invested well yet kept enough experience to settle this side.  The Petrofac Training Cup demolition of Hibernian set a standard that might not always be held up but means that the no brainer is to back the Govan team to win this league and win it comfortably with or without Scott Allan.

This brings us onto Hibernian. Alan Stubbs seems more intent in kicking his rivals transfer bids than kicking his team into shape.  The only positive about the Scott Allan transfer saga for him is that it took away the pressure from losing at home to Rangers so badly in spite of taking an early lead.  Solid in second for the Leith side if they get their act together.  The Hibees have to hope that they will finally win a playoff tie in the new league set up.  Peter Houston’s Falkirk runners up in the Scottish Cup for me are solid in third a good cup team strengthened in right areas with a superb youth system and training set up.  Dangerous in playoffs given their cup record and always a tough proposition at the Falkirk Stadium. Third with a chance in Playoffs.

Queen of the South in fourth seems such a waste but its stable and that is exactly what the Dumfries side are solid dependable with enough skill to cause any team problems.  James Fowler has simply operated a business as usual police and you know for the Palmerston players same as last year and a good shout in play offs is not the worse result ever.  Good cup record too so always a danger.  Raith Rovers Grant Murray has that mix of youth and experience and looking at them it is another year in the Championship gaining experience with the occasional shock to build towards a genuine push next season.  Starks Park on a cold Tuesday in December is a cold and foreboding place and more than a few visiting teams will leave points in Fife.  For their part, blowing hot and cold away from home is a worry for the Kirkcaldy Side. 

Dumbarton in sixth Ian Murray may have departed on a ferry across the Clyde but Stephen Aitken has a solid well-drilled squad with a good mix and the shadow of the rock makes the sons a tricky proposition at any time.  Staying in Championship is their priority. Playing Rangers brings back the historical shared League title glory. 
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Alloa in seventh.  The much-maligned plastic pitch at Recreation Park is a great leveller whether there is anything that wrong with it or not.  It gathered a reputation that Hibs Fraser Fyvie can testify too and this fear makes teams travelling to play the Wasps wary of the sting in the tail.  Danny Lennon should enjoy his trips back to Paisley and his guile; self-assurance and need to get one over his former employers should place Athletic above St Mirren.

St Mirren Eighth.  A dismal season last year with a decision to release Danny Lennon compounded by a strange promotion of Assistant Manager then when he was sacked a senior player!  The only thing that distracted people from looking at the shenanigans in Paisley was the events happening just along the Paisley Road West in Ibrox.  Disastrous home form for the last two seasons and not much better away.  The League Cup Winners of 2013 have choked on the smell of Brasso and choked in the face of opposition from every league in all Cup competitions.  Ian Murray has jumped across the Clyde to sort it out but selling Kenny McLean might stabilise finances but hurt the team.  A year of rebuilding and should stay in Championship without challenging either the top four or endangering relegation spots. Important they keep the Buddies Fans onside too.
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Livingston ninth Mark Burchill is trying to rebuild a club that has been subject to more financial audits than is healthy for any club in recent years.  Do not get me wrong Burchie is the man for this job and although I predict a lowly finish, I do feel they have just enough to stay up. 

Morton Tenth.  The jump up is enormous they done well to beat Dunfermline last year to win promotion but it has to said there is really nothing that makes you think they will set the heather on fire.  Jim Duffy will enjoy the Renfrewshire Rivalry with St Mirren but Greenock will only be a destination in this league for one year.

Debt Free – Is The Badge Enough?

17 Nov

On paper what Stewart Milne has achieved as Chairman of Aberdeen Football Club is miraculous. 
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He took over a club languishing with a debt of both ambition and finance trying to compete with the Big Lads down the road.  Chris Donald the legendary Richard’s son simply had ran out of ideas on how to maintain the club let alone make it a success. He joined the board in1994 becoming Chairman in 1998.
I mention Dick (Richard) Donald as he along with the long forgotten Chris Anderson were instrumental with a certain Sir Alex Ferguson in heralding the most successful period in the Dandy Dons history. The haul of cups in a twenty four thousand all seated stadia was achieved by hard graft and more importantly no debt. That’s right no debt in a All Seated, mostly covered (all but for two corners) bringing in League titles, Scottish Cups and of course a European Cup Winners Cup in 1983. Beating the Galaticos of Real Madrid in Gothenburg with no debt. I would doubt that Dick and Chris even had a overdraft facility at the bank. If it was not for a similar although not quite as successful Dundee United then it would be easy to say this Aberdeen team and club were the last of the old school scottish clubs bringing sucess on a shoestring with nothing more than Savvy, sweat and skill.

The wild days of the late seventies to mid eighties. Before the football revolution of Satelite Television money. When the top league in Europe was Serie A. Heady days indeed.

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Alex Ferguson and Dick Donald in front of benches of the beach end. This would be demolished and replaced by a all seated stand named after the former chairman. http://www.afcheritage.org

Back then life in Aberdeen was simple, play league games, win more than you lose and you know a maximum capacity of twenty four thousand seemed not enough to satisfy the Crowds that regularly filled Union Street as a open top bus paraded a trophy. The supply and demand for tickets to the next big match on the conveyer belt at Pittodrie was such that a loyalty scheme for tickets had to be employed. Go to two out of three selected games get a token at each game. Two out of three tokens enables you to buy a ticket to the big game. Genius from the Donald/Anderson board marginalise the glory hunter and simultaneously increase the home gate to otherwise less desirable games. Did I mention genius because that was exactly what that scheme was. Not only did it reward loyalty it increased revenue. It singularly meant that few fans could complain that they did not deserve a ticket to the glamour games.

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Union Street Open top bus trophy parade (www.bbc.co.uk)

This from a tight well run ship by the sands. No debt and securely ran to budget, with a customer base that was generally happy. All this safe in knowledge that demand for tickets outstripped supply yet ticketless fans did not turn on the club.

The club’s assets in 1984. A team with a minimum of Four Scottish internationals, sometimes suplimented by two or three peripheral in scottish squad. A good splattering of Under 21s in and around the first team and playing staff. Scotland’s first All Seated all covered twenty four thousand capacity stadium situated on prime coastal land including a reasonable sized carpark across Pittrodrie Street and of course no debt. It would not be unusual knowing the way this club was ran then if a profit was not made in more than a few years. A profit to reinvest or save for rainy days and contingencies. A perfectly solid proposition and business model of a Brasso scented football club on it’s way to lifting the League title.

Ten years later the club was in turmoil. Dick Donald had passed as had Chris Anderson and the club was facing a spiraling debt and lack of investment. As other clubs had invested and became winners Aberdeen had not quite invested wisely became nearly men.

The invention of Sky TV and increased monies had exposed Aberdeen’s board as lacking the ready cash to spend. The Taylor report had inforced massive improvements in the stadia and the addition of the Richard Donald Stand had stretched the finiances of the club past breaking even with profits in good years to a club living at the wrong end of it’s newly found overdraft. This added to a fan base that was struggling to come to terms with the lack of success in comparitive terms. There was a sizable chunk of this fan base who expected to win the league every August even though it had been NINE years since the League trophy had left Aberdeen for what could soon be described as it’s perminant home in Glasgow.

A unwilling partner was introduced Stewart Milne. He was almost press ganged onto the board of the Club he had no real links to the club previously had also shown no interest in ever being Mr Aberdeen FC. Almost as if he did not want the poisoned chalis that enhabits the Beach End. A BIG enough section of Dandy Dons where less than welcoming about the Builder from Alford’ inclusion on the board. After four years on the board there was still a chunk of unhappiness when he became chair. The main concern seemed to be ownership of Pittodrie. It is prime land well within reach of the City Centre. The real prospect of Stewart Milne Homes where Fergie won HOME Games worried a lot of Reds. It was not uncommon for Mr Milne to be haranged and harrassed in the street by disgruntled Dons.

Fast forward twenty years. Aberdeen after clever financing by Aberdeen Asset Management, Stewart Milne and cash injection by William and Elaine Donald (WM Donald Builders) Aberdeen sit debt free. The league cup sits proudly in the trophy room a average of sixteen thousand fans fill seventy five percent of Pittodrie. A buzz not seen in thirty years has returned to the reds and sitting atop is Stewart Milne the unwilling and some would say unwanted saviour of Aberdeen football club.

No one could deny him a smug look on his face. He has achieved the very targets he set out twenty years ago. He has stabalised the business brought on field success and the feel good factor back. He has also beautifully extricated himself from the major shareholder position that seemed to sit so uncomfortably within his port folio. Oh and as predicted he owns Pittodrie and associated land which he intends to build flats on.

The plan to move into a lend lease type agreement with Aberdeen City Council and build a stadia to replace Pittodrie. This is the same council who refused planning permission as recently as 2 years ago to the building of a stadia on the southern edge of Aberdeen. So at best you could describe Aberdeen City Council as a unreliable Partner. A worry is regardless of the independant wealth of the shareholders, whenever the shareholding of any business is spread across partners any future investment will usually involves transfer of or dilution of shares and involve agreement across a three sided share holding. Throw in a unstable Political Council (as every Council is by design and nature) and you have a overly complex stakeholder situation.

Effectuvely it has took twenty years for Stewart Milne to get a parcel of land and to pass the problem on.

The problem is this when your business has no collateral(just image rights) you are immediately exposed to liabilties and risk. No one foresaw the Taylor Report because few had predicted the horrible events in the mid eighties at Valley Parade and Hillsbourgh. Even though Pittodrie was “ALL SEATED” millions of pounds HAD to be spent on the stadia to replace benches with seats to bring the stadia up to code. How this was finianced along with the Richard Donald Stand that replaced the Beach End was loans secured on the land at the golf course end of Pittodrie Street.

So everyone is happy Fans have the shiney silverwear and dvds. The business is set fair for a good future. Stewart Milne has his land. Aberdeen Asset Management have shares and the Donalds achieve an ambition of owning their home town club. The Council have a new partner and stake in a stadia. For a one club city it’s a community partnership of cosiness. Lovely everyone is happy. No clouds on this horizon.

Using a public/private model not dissimilar to what is happening at Falkirk and Livingston. The perfect justification for a frachiase style municipal pride with a dirty great big bit of civic infrastructure.

This raises some questions though and they involve being naturally pessimistic. The Community Club model works obviously in the Forth and Almond Valleys but is that really the ambition of one of the top five clubs in Scotland. All due respect to Falkirk and Livingston clubs without the recent history of titles or even 30% of the fans of Aberdeen. Is that really the default ambitions of Aberdeen FC? Surely the Dons are a division above Falkirk etc. Because once you strip the decoration away your left with the exact model of Falkirk. Also if you are relying on any additional investment or safety net funding to be sourced from only two sources (existing board members or finding external investment diluting shares) with little more than a emblem as security then you really are backing yourself into a corner. The unpredictable nature of football club finiance leaves a exposure to unexpected bills and the ilk. Will it be enough for the Dons fans to be “THE BIGGEST COMMUNITY CLUB IN SCOTLAND“? Especially when as most expect the three amigos currently in the Championship make their return to the Premiership and begin to frighten silverwear again.

If you are reliant on fickle fans for income, the variables of prize money, media deals and sponsorship for the maintenance and improvement of your playing staff at the same tims as running a no debt shop you are totally at the mercy of injuries, suspensions, dodgey referee decisions, famine and pestilence. Simply because to RELY on continued success in any sport is inherently dangerous. To trust winning on the field breads sucess off it fails to see the other side of that coin. Losing on the field leads to failure off it.

Of course you set up a selling club ideal like Hamilton Accies once again a punt of many variables. The fact is a not unpredictable bad year for injuries etc in hand with lack of youth players that year is leads to a reduction of income. Any reduced income to balance the books means no investment in youth system or and selling a player or two with no replacement. This annoys fans who vote with their feet and don’t buy tickets. The perfect spiral.

Then you have a reliance on a ever changing Council who at any time can decide or be forced by others to pull out of any comercial deal they have with any partner. A Election and in order to save a school a stadia gets sold. Don’t even think you have to have a lobbiest in the Town House because a vote in Holyrood or Westminster or Strasburg and the House of Cards of a Stadia built on a foundation of sand is washed away.

Dundee United are on their way to debt free as are Hibernian and Heart of Midlothian but these clubs have the safety net the gaurenteed security of owning land the catch all of last resort. A quick look at the old firm where fans have actively protested to ensure that parcels of land (including the stadia) remains within the portfolio of the club. The security of the land is one thing the value of the history and sentiment is another. There is a massive difference in the levels of security between being a Owner/occupier and a tennant! The importance of this was shown at Chester, Wrexham and Portsmouth. More recently Coventry City have had protracted issues simply being able to afford to rent what was designed to be their home.

God forbid similar situation in Scotland. A under funded under pressure local council having to choose between leasing land and facilities to a Football club or selling land (with no real sentimental or historical value) to fund old aged pensioners care.

So Aberdeen Debt free for first time in years? Yes but at a cost of almost every asset.

A partial cause to celebrate? Cautiously, no one has a crystal ball but fail to prepare, prepare to fail.

Because the basic look of this brave new dawn is the Dons
OWE NOTHING
but
OWN NOTHING
more than a badge.

As for the new major shareholders, what exactly have they bought? A business that is little more than a badge? A company with assets? A trading name or a vanity project?

Retaining image rights and a transiant variable playing staff could well be enough in the future but you wouldn’t bank on it.

ALL IMAGES SUBJECT TO OWN COPYRIGHT AS LABELLED

When The Mole Hill Becomes The Mointain

28 Sep

I have watched from the sidelines over the last couple of years,  seen some good football too but consistently I have had a wee nag in the back of my head. 

You know the one the “what if woman” sorry girls that’s what I call her.  Mainly because my nagging voice is actually my maternal Gran.  Now lovely lady that she was (she died in 1999) she could nag me into anything.  In addition she would expect me to do what she said.  So this voice nags away at me and I know it’s nog my Gran but it’s her voice so “what if woman” is the voice.

Now why go over the events that have swamped Rangers.  Old news and every man and his dog has a view.  It is recent comments coming from Clubs, Scottish Premiership Clubs at that and especially John Hughes that have spiked me into writing.

John Hughes following defeat at Pittodrie does not blame his players for not performing this would be honest perhaps.  In fact the Inverness Manager blames budgets.  Strange call especially given that I had seen an Inept Rangers beat a woeful I.C.T. in the league cup not two weeks ago.  To recap a ineffectual Rangers dominated possession with a series of misplaced passes and lacking clinical killer instinct in final third BEAT Yogi’s hopeless Caley.  I cannot tell you how bad Rangers were that night it was almost impossible to think of ways to play worse but John Hughes’ team achieved the impossible and found a way. 

The Inverness Coach did not blame funds that night.  This must mean he considers Rangers a smaller club with less money.  It could be of course if he had used that line he would of been laughed out of the press room.  To say there is more money in Govan than anywhere right now is not just funny it’s “Morecambe and Wise Christmas Special” comedy gold!

Derek McInnes quite rightly smacked down Hughes errant comments.  Although making reference to comparative budgets of present day Aberdeen and Hibernian from 5 years ago is a cul de sac of confusion because the landscape has changed dramatically. 

Celtic’s Cheif Executive Peter Lawell recently said to his shareholders that a conservative estimate of TEN MILLION POUNDS has evaporated from Celtic’s annual revenue because of the much disputed insertion of Rangers into league 3 a few years ago.  That would equate to two players from Celtic’s proven scouting network plus wages with a view to sell on and make profit etc.  This is currently Celtics business model and it’s appears to work. 

Days after Stuart Gilmour Chairman of up for sale Saint Mirren said his clubs figure was THREE HUNDRED THOUSAND POUNDS a year.  This clearly states the gulf in finiancial clout of clubs basically saying Celtic are THIRTY times bigger than their neighbours alone the M8.  I would imagine that Inverness possibly are missing slightly more than St Mirren abd considerably less than Celtic. 

It would be interesting to see what the other clubs that voted to expell Rangers have lost annually.  This kind finiancial honesty is beyond the ken of most of the others.  No doubt the Edinburgh two could still provide decent figures inspite of being relegated.  I would love to hear anyone at Aberdeen responding to the question “If Celtic lost £10 million and St Mirren £300000 then how much do you estimate you have lost?”. If you consider that the current Laegue Cup holders could spin this loss into a public relationions triumph then why are they not confessing.  Same goes for Scottish Premiership Leaders Dundee United, Scottish Cup Holders St Johnstone, Inverness Caledonian Thistle and Kilmarnock.  I fear we will never get an answer because as these clubs hide behind company confidentiality they will all know that to release this information allows then to be placed in the big club league.  The same as very quickly given the statements from Parkhead and Paisley we all did a quick sum and said St Mirren times Thirty equals Celtic we could all do similar with the other clubs. 

So with a sense of challenge to some clubs and a congratulatory thanks for being honest I publish my league table with how much their income has reduced since they voted Rangers out of their league. 

1 CELTIC.                 £10,000,000*
2 HEARTS.               £  1,600,000
2 HIBERNIAN.          £  1,600,000
2 ABERDEEN.           £  1,600,000
5 DUNDEE UTD.       £  1,200,000
6 KILMARNOCK.      £     800,000
7 ST JOHNSTONE.  £     700,000
8 I.C.T.                      £     400,000
9 ST MIRREN.          £     300,000*

I applaud Celtic and St Mirren for their honesty but as you can see the gulf seems to paint it’s own picture.  It would be excellent if someone at Pittodrie yesterday said “well we have had to take a £1.6 million a year loss in revenue on the chin and still win cups. What has I.C.T. lost 25% of that? And won nothing!”

Don’t get any perverted sense of pleasure if your a Rangers fan because a estimate of close to Celtic is the missing revenue from Rangers annual books.  In addition to the millions of pounds of saleable assets that wondered to Southhampton, Norwich etc when the finiancial event kicked in at Ibrox.  With additional rebuilding costs Rangers have lost HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS of Pounds. 

The Silent chairmen know that to admit loss of revenue is to admit they made errors.  Roy McGregor, Stewart Milne and Cheif Moaner Stephen Thompson all incrediable vocal when vote was cast now silent on what it has cost them. 

The cut your cloth brigade of fans that seem to think that they have been immune from changes in finiancial environment.  Lets see how they feel when the life blood of their club dries up.  The easiest cut in budget is always Youth teams.  Lack of youth to sell on in coming years will be the double whammy for most clubs.  Down on income this year last year and year before,  no sales next year the year after etc.  It’s a spiral that is summed up this year in the condition of the two clubs honest enough to admit costs and revenue reduction. 

Celtic in Europa League not Champions League even with a reprive they still didn’t have the quality to qualify for group stages.  Saint Mirren languishing at bottom of Scottish Premiership for sale with out any interst. 

That nagging voice the meltdown that happened to Hearts could of changed it’s clothes cut it’s cloth to fit if you will and is currently on the catwalk dressed in a deadly camouflage. Waiting til suddenly the short fall in income stops being a manageable problem and becomes a insurmountable issue.
Today’s Molehill tomorrows Mountain.

Regrets

31 Aug

Peter Lawell has been strangely silent.  Normally the Celtic CEO is at the heart of anything that is everything in Scottish football.  Good for a quote and good for a photo.  I have never doubted that he has Celtic at the heart of every quote his motivation for doing anything has been and will continue to be what he thinks is best for Celtic.  The arguement of Spinnning facts and creating lies will never leave any sucessfull CEO because frankly that is part of their Job.  To defend, manage and  defuse any situation their business finds itself in. To place their company on the best light possible at every opportunity. And if that means extending the truth or spinning a lie then so be it. 

image

So it is with a great deal of surprise that Peter Lawell has confirmed that Celtic miss Rangers. Well let me quantify that Celtic miss approximately £10 million per season. That is the hidden cost that Mr Lawell possibly under estimated when he sat on comittees and made judgements in the heady summer of 2012.

Maybe Mr Lawell accounted for some loss but assumed that other sources would plug the gap. Fickle fans and lack of genuine investment has put paid to that. Fickle fans is not a insult it’s a fact a fact that has been shared around the grounds. Instead of improving fan interaction the fans are walking. Now in it’s second season since reconstruction the SPFL Leagues STILL has no title sponsor. Scotland’s third cup had no trouble securing Petrofac the league cup has Communities and the Scottish cup has William Hill.

Yet no sponsorship for the Leagues.

So the question is as Rangers raise £3.7 million, Celtic miss £30 million how much have the rest of Scotlands clubs missed because of hasty punishments dished out before correct judgements where made.

In economics if USA sneezes the UK catches a cold. Now that the symbiotic finiancial relationship between the Old Firm has been confirmed by Mr Lawell lets see how much Aberdeen, Dundee United and the rest have suddenly descovered “missing.” Simply put if Celtic have missed money that they have been able to count with their multimillion pound turnover then what has Messers Milne and Thompson found missing. Hearts spent a year trying to get out of administration Hibernian look ponderous in their inability to compete in the Championship. Hibernian are the only club to come to the party that is the Championship with a wet bag of pyrotechnics.

Also I hear a lot of people suggest Mr Lawells remarks are to distract from his team’s comical eviction from the Champions league. Maybe by just maybe it’s a prod at Hampden. With Doncaster and Regan sitting signing blank pieces of paper, writing cheques that suffer from insufficent funds. What does it take to rid these two from Our Game