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Walter Smith on the money with blast at bankers

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Jim Spence | 20:03 UK time, Friday, 7 January 2011

Walter Smith's public frustration at his club's bankers making life difficult for him, will be shared by managers and directors up and down the land.

While there's no doubt that Rangers and many others have lived beyond their means, Smith's anger at bankers pulling the financial strings at Ibrox, will strike a chord.

Smith said: "The ironic aspect, not just for Rangers, but for everybody, is that the banks are telling us what we can and can't do. Maybe someone should have done that that with them."

One thing's for sure about Smith's old fashioned Scottish working class upbringing; it makes for a clear perspective when commenting on the pin-striped financial wizards who almost spelled disaster for the entire economy with their own financial imprudence, yet who feel no shame in lecturing others on how to tighten their belts now.

Rangers manager Walter Smith

Smith is frustrated by the financial restraints imposed on him by Rangers' bankers

I'm not suggesting that many of our football clubs have been anything other than cavalier with their finances, but their bankers were in several cases only too happy to accommodate them in their extravagances.

It's a bit rich now for the banks to be putting such a severe financial squeeze on clubs.

In some cases, tales of banks changing the rules overnight are being heard from club directors suffering sleepless nights.

Scottish football shouldn't be treated any differently to any other business, despite the unique place it has in the country's social tapestry.

But, those banks who needed bailed out with public money, should surely think twice before putting undue pressure on football or any other business or individual, struggling to keep their heads above water in the current tough financial climate.

Everyone has to pay their dues and everyone has to learn to live within their means, but a little understanding and a little more time to pay, from those who needed the taxpayers' help themselves a short time ago, seems only fair.


  • Comment number 1.

    I see the pressure on Rangersbeing due to the fact that there really isnt a lot of money coming into the Scottish game.

    They will want to reduce the debts of Rangers as soon as possible before the Champions League money will inevitably dry up aswell.

  • Comment number 2.

    There has been a lot of money spent on Players/Wages for the last 20 years, and like the housing market, it couldn't go on. The only clubs that will come out on top are the ones with chairmen willing to throw money away to buy success. Football will never be a money making business in the current state it is, we need to go back to basics!

  • Comment number 3.

    Perhaps if Rangers and Celtic wouldn't insist on making insulting bids for Scottish players (Goodwillie being the latest in a long list) while at the same time forking out huge amounts for foreign players no-one's heard of, our game as a whole would be in a healthier state.

  • Comment number 4.

    In reality, I think the banks could close a number of clubs down if they so chose. But why do this when its much more sensible and profitable for them to keep clubs going with the debt repayments and constrained spending regimes. The era of easy tic has gone.

    Some banks are partly or mostly publicly owned but no reason to think this means they should offer better credit to clubs. And after all Dundee just used HMRC and others as another 'credit card'!

    Spending has to be reined in and some people have obviously missed it but even bottom table EPL teams and the Championship clubs can outbid the OF by quite some way for Scottish players both in fees and wages. If Scottish clubs want top dollar for players, like everyone else in Europe just now, they also look to the EPL.

    The days of Celtic paying out £4m for Scott Brown and Rangers £2m for Kevin Thompson from Hibs are not coming back anytime soon. And Rangers in particular need to sell before they can buy. McGregor is being tipped as the one most likely to go in January by some.

    Scottish clubs will need to boost revenue somehow both in terms of TV, fans and merchanising. League formats that don't somehow keep the same number of games over a season will be less financially viable and attractive.

  • Comment number 5.

    Rangers can't have it all ways. For instance, they are pushing for SPL change because they want to protect their business interests rather than being viewed as a footballing institution. However, when they are failing in their business policies, they are pleading their case for leniency because they are a football club.

  • Comment number 6.

    @Jim Spence: "It's a bit rich now for the banks to be putting such a severe financial squeeze on clubs."

    Sorry, but what?

    Has the entire credit crunch and indeed the financial crisis somehow bypassed the Sports Editorial team?

    @Walter Smith: "The ironic aspect, not just for Rangers, but for everybody, is that the banks are telling us what we can and can't do."

    Erm, no. The ironic aspect is that your club is £30m in debt, you spent £32m in your first 18 months in charge and you're now moaning about financial constraints.

    Football, as one considers it to be no longer a sport in it's purest form, is a joke of a business; very much comparable with those financial institutions that reward those risk takers with huge bonuses whilst blithely ignoring their losses. Perhaps this is the irony Walter speaks of?

  • Comment number 7.

    That argument isn't sitting Jim. It's like a murderer blaming the people that make the guns for causing a death.

    The last paragraph with the line "a little understanding, and little time to pay... seems only fair" sends shivers down my spine. Is that not the argument Dundee, Motherwell, Airdrieoneans, Portsmouth and the other clubs who've faced administration and HMRC winding-up orders been using??

    I'm gonna have to get in touch with these banks and see if I can get a similar account to what football clubs get. How does that sound Jim? I'll apply for a wee overdraft something modest like £20,000 and use your argument of "come ooon, gie's a little time to pay back... it's only for the crack, like!"

    Nah, sorry Spencey. Telling banks to stop putting so-called "undue pressure" on football clubs is like implementing a 10-team SPL: a step backwards that only led us to the mess we find ourselves in now.

  • Comment number 8.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 9.

    Your attempt to take a cheap populist shot at the banks on the back of Smith's remarks has not won much support. We all have to live within our means and that goes for football clubs. The banks have behaved with considerable restraint.

  • Comment number 10.

    I usually like you r bog Jim, but can't agree here.

    This just stinks of the typical Media sycophantic pandering to poor Walter's "plight".

    It's the same for all clubs - wind your neck in Walter, and all those who dance to your tune too!!

  • Comment number 11.

    Some strange comments being posted here. In my frequent posts I bang on about the waste of cash in our game and the money paid to mediocre player etc. Also as a non OF supporter no axe to grind any usually find Walter Smith pretty balanced. In the quote used here he points to the fact that perhaps the banks could have done with the same level of oversight being applied to football clubs. Clearly he is frustrated but find him one of the more constructive commentators. Personally I think he is right to point to the irony that banks bailed out to the tune of billions of OUR money and who continue to pay themselves billions in bonuses using OUR money are now zealots around businesses who have borrowings taken on commercial terms and are part of the clubs business plan and risk profile. Either some people don't understand irony or this blog attracts a disproportionate number of people who work (and are bonused) by the banking industry.

  • Comment number 12.

    I think that Rangers as a football club have always been on a shaky nail with finances.
    But Walter smith has no idea what he is doing at Rangers if you ask me as a HEARTS FAN! Ally McCoist is doing all the work!

  • Comment number 13.

    This blog is obviously designed to attract a lot of posts either that or Jim's been out without his hat on again !!

    As aresult of the worldwide economic mess we are all in there has been a massive public outcry for the banks to behave responsibly and act as they should have benn all along. If that had been the case Rangers and all the other clubs would not have been able to borrow the vast amounts they did and perhaps the clubs would have been run in a better fashion.

    How did they ever expect to pay the borrowings back? The truth appears to be that they didn't, they just expected things to roll along in the same manner forever.

    What would have been the consequences of all clubs not being able to waste money on salaries they couldn't afford on players who weren't worth it?, more homebred players being given opportunities and some stars being discovered. This would also have benefitted the national team.

    Walter and others are crying wolf in my opinion and one final thought, why should the BRITISH taxpayer, because that's who owns the banks in question,subsidise any football clubs when they have more pressing financial worries of their own?

  • Comment number 14.

    This is a short-sighted article. Banks are now being watched by the government, so why shouldn't businesses they lend to be watched more closely as well?

  • Comment number 15.

    I see the city bankers are still earning their huge bonuses, much like the over priced players that our game cannot afford.

    Who's more stupid, Scottish football for allowing this or the UK government for not regulating the banks.

    If Walter and Rangers are so upset, why don't they approach another bank for refinancing ?

  • Comment number 16.

    @Uriah Heap: Rangers have been pretty much gifted upwards of £20m in the last two seasons from Champions League money, have spent virtually nothing in that time, yet their debt has remained somewhat static, i.e. ~£30m.

    With no guaranteed CL football next season for our league champions - what do you expect the banks to do? In fact, how would you expect Rangers to be in a position to pay off their debts, or even retain the same level of debt when the CL money dries up?

    It's also worth pointing out that a number of SPL clubs have been trying to live within their means for any number of years - why should one club be any different? Is it because they, and their fans, expect nothing less than maintaining a challenge to Celtic and does everyone else expect this to be the case?

    The timing, and indeed undertone, of Smith's comments are utterly baffling too. Had they been pummelled by some no-mark side with a sugar daddy in Europe, then fair enough have a bleat about skewed competition, but Rangers have just been beaten by a Celtic XI assembled for about a third of the cost of his XI.

  • Comment number 17.

    The question should also be posed: at what point should the banks then say 'no more'?

    Can we have a figure? A percentage of turnover perhaps?

    Remember, Rangers have been in debt to the tune of £70m quite recently, yet were bailed out by the owner of the club. From a sporting perspective, how is that fair?

  • Comment number 18.

    Rangers FC has a set repayment agreement with the bank. It was clearly set out in the last report for the AGM. What Walter Smith is pointing out is that the banks lent out money easily in the past and now there is a dramatic change in policy. Of course borrowings were too high and with hindsight most clubs would have done things differently. What he appears to be pointing out is that there is no sense in the banks making borrowing impossible if it restricts the performance and subsequently the ability to repay. Banks make money by charging interest on lending and as long as that interest is repaid and the overall debt lowered on a gradual basis then I see no logic in the banks taking such draconian action.

  • Comment number 19.

    I have never read such ill informed comments on both sides but then again why let the facts get in the way of good story. The reasons that Rangers (and I am a supporter) are under so much pressure from lloyds are they are a wholly owned subsidiary of Murray International Holdings who woe many millions of pounds to Lloyds Banking Group having basically been allowed to do what they like by their previous Bankers Bank of Scotland. It has absolutely nothing to do with the financial/football performance of rangers football club. Until either the club is sold to different owners or MIH get their finanical performance sorted out then the pressure will remain. WS's plea was of course calculated to remind everyone of this (why else would it be on the day that the club accepts an offer for Kenny Miller but knowing full well he has no intention of going to a relegationed threatened club. AS far as the LLoyds are concerned they inherited a lot of very dodgy lending and are only doing what any self respecting lending banker (and I have been one for 35 years) would do. Please note the qualification on the banking profession as we have never been the ones to get the telephone money bonus's. What we are seeing now si an intensene negotiation game and I would suggest that the sports journalists and the general public who have no real idea of what is going on shuld focus on things they do understand. On the positive side I would say to Mr Whyte /Mr Murray let's forget the posturing and either get the deal done or walk away.

  • Comment number 20.

    Clubs need to learn that they aren't immune to the reality of the financial troubles the world is facing. I get fed up with clubs that continually spend more than they earn to get success and then complain when they get points deducted or relegated divisions for their financial mismanagement. I'd have put Dundee in the 3rd division and deducted them 25 points for what they did. I support St.Mirren and unfortunately living within your means is a disadvantage as our league and cup results have shown. With teams like Hearts and Dundee Utd running at losses, where is the level playing field?
    Maybe the answer to making the SPL a more attractive and competetive product isn't in league reconstruction, but to capping teams spending limits to what they earn.

  • Comment number 21.

    Couldn't disagree more. The banks are perfectly entitled to get their money back. Football isn't and never should be a special case. The banks have every right to demand teams pay their debt.

    Like an individual teams can cut back and pay their debt back in instalments.

  • Comment number 22.

    #18 If the government don't see the logic in creating & maintaining employment thus enabling people to pay taxes and spend to assist the economic recovery why would a bank take this approach to a football club?

    #19 When you've finished patting yourself on the back for being such a knowledgeable banker are you really saying that Rangers do not have a large debt?
    You are correct to say that there is pressure on MIH from Lloyds but there is also pressure on the subsidiaries that have also run up huge debts.
    I agree that BOS both in original form & as HBOS allowed Rangers to borrow what they wished without any constraints and now the club are reaping the rewards of this financial policy.

    #20 You may soon be in luck. If Platini gets his way then clubs will be forced to live within their means and a brake placed upon the totally irresponsible spending that has previously taken place.

    There are lots of Celtic fans who have complained in the past about McCann & Desmond failing to lavish money on expensive players preferring to reduce debt instead, it would appear that this approach was correct.
    Perhaps we should all be looking out the biscuit tin !!

  • Comment number 23.

    re morbhoy comments. Ir is not a case of patting myself on the back it is simply a question of facts. No I do not consider the rangers debt to be excessively large in reation to overall turnover and ability to service the debt on a stand alone basis. (latest financial statements would back that up) but as we all know that is not the issue at the moment.

    Glad though that we agree re comments on Government policy! (unfortuabltle we have to go through this every 20 years or so as people forget,

    Don't thjink we want to get back to the biscuit tin ear. We just need sensible management

  • Comment number 24.

    Usually enjoy your blogs but I'm affraid I dont agree with this article Jim, if the Old Firm didnt fork out huge abouts of money for lets be honest here, pretty poor players (Lafferty, Fortune, Hesselink and many more) then they wouldnt be in this financial mess. In this case, RANGERS borrowed the money, RANGERS havnt payed it back. As far as I can see that is the end of the matter. I don't think you'll find many of a non Rangers-persuasion that will share your sympathy.

  • Comment number 25.

    I suppose that the additional X factor in Rangers/ MIH debt also has to be their possible additional £25m Tax liability with HMRC. This is a story that seems to be disappeared in recent months.

    A good assessment of the Smith statement/ Miller transfer #19. I guess Smith was laying down a public marker to the bankers/ supporters and saying that the game is still to 'speculate to accumulate' albeit on a very much reduced scale.

    And you do wonder at Celtic at the moment what the merit is in still accumulating players without any significant offload. They have a huge squad compared to their main rivals and with more expected to be coming.

  • Comment number 26.

    Post 20

    You are right and it is with some irony that some non-old firm clubs speak about the lack of a level playing field in relation to Celtic and Rangers but not between themselves.

  • Comment number 27.

    #23 Disagree about Rangers debt being servicable in the current climate but totally agree regards sensible management, that's what's needed at at a majority of clubs.

    #25 RobO4 Smith is in no position to lay down any markers to Lloyds,he may wish to "speculate to accumulate" but a publicly owned bank answerable to British taxpayers is not going out on a limb for a football club.The days of cosy partnerships between Rangers and their bankers ended when Lloyds bailed out HBOS.
    The HMRC debt will not go away and this is obviously what is holding up any sale of the club.

    Good news that they've abandoned the vote to force through a 10 team league. Let's hope that common sense prevails and wider consultation actually takes place before any decisions are taken.

  • Comment number 28.

    My guess is that Walter, Ally and the Rangers players would be more than likely to collect large bonus payments if they are successful on the pitch. But since that success would be because Rangers spent what they could not afford to spend, how should we, the public, view such payments?

  • Comment number 29.

    I am no friend of the banking industry but I can see that there was a strong public interest in ensuring that the entire economic system was protected from collapse by bailing out failing banks. You could argue that there was a global interest in doing so.

    I cannot see the same argument for allowing Rangers to spend 'our' money. The only people who have an interest in Rangers being allowed to spend freely are those connected to Rangers.

    I think Jim Spence thinks that football clubs operate in a fantasy vacuum. They do not.

    Rangers have effectively bought success where other clubs like Hibs and Celtic have tried to live within their means. Creditors of Dundee FC will receive (for the second occasion) a tiny percentage of what is owed to them thanks to the fiscal recklessness of it's directors.

    Rangers and Dundee deserve no sympathy. Save it for their rivals who missed out on success and save it especially for the creditors who lost their money to the fantasists who ran Livingston, Dundee and Gretna.

  • Comment number 30.

    I agree his position is very limited but obviously Smith is making a point that adopting a too strict bean counting position may ultimately slow debt repayment. There were similar statements made last summer and then up popped the Jelavic purchase. First place in the SPL offers the best chance of CL qualification after all and Celtic just keep buying. Second place needs a huge dose of luck and as we have seen with Celtic these past two years the runes are not good for whoever has to go down this route.

    Much seems to be being made of the relative costs of both OF teams last weekend and that Celtic's side cost a 'Lafferty' but even in the world of the biscuit tin I'm not how sustainable spending is on high-risk purchases like Juarez who cost £4m and still can't get a game. These types of players may open up untapped markets for Celtic but I for one would have preferred they spread some of this dosh for better Scottish players like Conway.

  • Comment number 31.

    ....and Motherwell.

  • Comment number 32.

    Given that Rangers got where they are by speculating to accumulate, #30, I can well understand why Lloyds are refusing to continue on that path.

    Yes, more signings like Jelavic may win Rangers the SPL and gain them entry to the Champions League. But an expensive player can easily face a serious injury and the club still has to pay the playser his wages; and even if those expensive players stay injury free, there is always the possibility of a shock early exit from Europe a la Artmedia/Kaunas. Speculation may only accumulate more debt.

  • Comment number 33.

    ....and apart from that, #30, how do you as a (supposed) Celtic fan feel about better fiscally run clubs missing out on the SPL title because the bank allows Rangers to spend more than they can afford to?

    I am still angry at our fawning media's portrayal of Gretna. That club made our game a complete laughing stock and completely obliterated the integrity of the league. Yet our typically sycophantic media spun it as a 'dream'.

    No club should be allowed to go into debt to buy a player (to gain cup or league success).

  • Comment number 34.


    "...other clubs like Hibs and Celtic have tried to live within their means."

    Now maybe, however....

    In 1990 Hibs very nearly went bust with around £20m of debt.

    In 1994 Celtic almost went out of business.

    Both clubs had to be rescued by multi-millionaire businessmen and then had no choice but to live within their means.

    Are you saying this is the model other Scottish clubs should aspire to? in recent years both clubs have done well financially. However, it could be argued they were forced into it by their previous financial messes.

    The fact is that Rangers and Celtic overspend to try to get the CL riches. The other SPL clubs are then forced to overspend to at least provide some sort of challenge in the league. Rangers and Celtic's refusing to share the wealth around to make the league as a whole stronger doesn't help matters.

  • Comment number 35.


    Well as a (supposed) Celtic fan yourself you'll be more than aware of the dangers of spending beyond our means.

    The worst example though maybe Hearts the SPLs regular 'financial basket-case' who had to be rescued by a multi millionaire who made his money from...well god knows what really! Hearts though don't aspire to the OF debt level, they move beyond it!

  • Comment number 36.


    "The worst example though maybe Hearts the SPLs regular 'financial basket-case' who had to be rescued by a multi millionaire who made his money from...well god knows what really!"

    First point - debt is only a problem when it can't be repaid. Those of us who have mortgages know this. Rangers obviously can't make the payments they are required to make right now - or something (details are not easy to find in the media).

    Second point - It never fails to amaze me why the media can't represent Hearts finances accurately, leading to people like you completely misunderstanding the club's situation.

    Hearts are owned by a financial institution. It's like David Murray or Tom Farmer loaning Rangers or Hibs 10m or 20m from one of their other companies, or own pocket. Obviously dealing with your own people is easier than dealing with an external bank - as Rangers are discovering.

    Then there is the question of whether Hearts debt really is debt or funding, if the money is loaned by the club's owner? Maybe financial experts can tell me. I'm a small Hearts shareholder though. I go to the meetings and I understand the finances. While both parties (essentially the same party as Romanov is major shareholder in both Hearts and the financial institution that bought Hearts) are OK with this, there is no problem. Obviously should Romanov need to call in the money or decided to sell Hearts then there would potentially be a problem. Calling the club a "financial basket-case" though is simply not true for the above reasons and you would need a good lawyer to put your name to that in print.

    You can't call a club something on the basis of what "might" happen. Plenty of clubs - Hibs, Rangers, Dundee Utd, Aberdeen and others would potentially be in severe trouble if their owners suddenly jumped ship and decided to sell.

    In Hearts case, the club has lived through one of the worst global financial meltdowns in history so if we were going under or the debt HAD to be called in, I suspect it would have happened by now.

    Third point re this - "who made his money from...well god knows what really" The BBC Panorama tried to stitch Romanov up and were forced to apologise. Romanov's business interests are well documented. I tend to wonder how any mult--millionaire made their money - they are usually cut from the same cloth. Suggesting Romanov is different while not questioning the riches of Desmond, Milne, Murray and co reeks of xenophobia.

  • Comment number 37.

    The fact that Celtic & Hibs have apparently learnt from their past mistakes is surely a good thing.

    We've been debating ways to raise a meaningful challenge to OF in the past 2 blogs as it appears to be abone of contention amongst fans of other teams that they always win the league.
    That being so why it would seem that those clubs have not spent wisely in attempting to make a challenge.

    No problem with sharing the peanuts from tv but never home gate money, where were all you lot when we rebuilt the ground?

    It does make me laugh though, one minute we get all the "get rid of OF" posts the next they want us to give then half the gate receipts from our home games,make your mind up.

  • Comment number 38.

    Can I just add Hearts owe money to a PRIVATE bank/financial institution (owned by the club's owner as I said).

    Rangers owe money to a public company bailed out and now owned by taxpayers (who would like their money back thanks very much).

    There's a big difference, both morally and in business terms.

  • Comment number 39.

    #37 It's tricky to spend wisely when even with some investment you know you are still being outspent by at least 10 times - both wages and transfer fees. How many £1m strikers do Celtic need for example? Is paying Freddy Ljunberg £1m or whatever for half a season really necessary? And then there's always the ghosts of the likes of Rafael Sheidt and Tore Andre Flo...

    Hearts are the only team to have split the OF in recent years. They got deeper into debt to do it and yet the 2005/06 team was still assembled on a fraction of the budget of the OF clubs.

    Hopefully Hearts have also learnt from their mistakes in the way they handed out big money contracts to so many sub-standard players in recent years. Going by the season so far, and the fact that almost all of the big earners have been launched, it looks like they have.

  • Comment number 40.


    But you can hardly criticise the OF being bailed out by millionaires when Hearts were as well before they were about to become homeless!

    You seem confused about whether the Romanov money is debt, funding or a gift? As a Hearts shareholder it raises the question, why don't you know?

    The term 'financial basket-case' comes from the Edinburgh-media last year! No lawyers have been involved!

    Xenophobia? Perfectly legitimate issue to ask about sources of funding isn't it? If its xenophobia you want, just listen to those songs in the Wheatfield Stand. Now that is xenophobia!

  • Comment number 41.

    #40 I didn't criticise anyone for being bailed out by millionnaires. I just pointed out that Hibs and Celtic became more financially responsible through necessity rather than design.

    The term basket-case was very swiftly removed from the article you're referring to!

    As I said I will bow to superior financial knowledge if money loaned to one part of a company by another part of the same company is debt or funding. Hearts themselves say it is funding.

    As for the Wheatfield stand, I had a season ticket there last year and you really have no idea what you're talking about. We had one of the most multi-national sides in the league last season and the couple of seasons before and we are owned by foreigners. Find me one Hearts player who has not been made welcome due to their nationality. A ridiculous comment and sadly a very standard one from a Celtic fan. Deflect, deflect...

    And no it's not legitimate to question where one multi-millionaire owner got his money from and not ask the same about all of the others in the league.

  • Comment number 42.

    A necessity which was a feature of most spending clubs in this period and something Hearts woke up to when Vlad walked in.

    Well it just is legitimate to ask where owners get their money from and even if you don't like freedom of the press you'll just have to accept that some people have a different view. And this is why you had so much stuff on Dermot in the Irish and Scottish press when he took over at Celtic. Equally, in England former owners of clubs like Portsmouth and Man C went through this press scrutiny, as did the owners of Man U, Chelsea snd Liverpool to name but a few.

    If you need a pointer on why owners should be looked at read Misha Glenny on post-soviet EEuropean football.

    I wouldn't know about Hearts fans not welcoming players of another nationality but I certainly do know from experience of going to Tynecastle myself (in non-OF games) that a vocal section of them don't appear to welcome particular teams, fans and people with Irish Catholic connections. But then you do know this yourself.

    As I said above, now that is xenophobia!

  • Comment number 43.

    Jim, I regularly sing your praises on these blogs, but I think you allowed your heart to influence your head on this one.

    As football fans, in simplistic terms, NONE of us wish to see a league club struggling against debts or facing extinction. Despite the self-inflicted nature of events at Dundee, Gretna and Livingston in recent years, it is still hard to watch.

    As tax-payers, however, why on earth should these clubs splash out fortunes on average players on our money? Because if Dundee can spend £200,000 on Harkins & Griffiths then default on an HMRC bill, that is exactly what they are doing. If every club in the country were fully paid up with their tax bills, perhaps fewer people would have lost their jobs in the last 12 months.

    As a small business owner, I am more than aware of how unreasonable & inflexible the banks are at the moment, but Rangers & other clubs should just do what the rest of us have to do in order to survive - trade to a profit, and that includes cutting costs & selling players.

    Boumsong & Cuellar have been the exception; they should be the rule.

    Miller should have been signed or sold last summer, netting more transfer cash than a measly £700,000 when replacements are thin on the ground. In the summer, Miller could have been replaced by Goodwillie & still have turned a profit.

    Bougherra should have been sold on the strength of a World Cup for £5m+ & could have been replaced by someone at a fraction of the cost.

    McGregor should be moved on to the highest bidder, especially with a ready made replacement currently warming the bench earning good money. A free transfer keeper could easily have been brought in as reserve.

    £4m on Jelavic wasn't affordable so he shouldn't have been bought, either. Tally all that up & you've knocked circa £12m off your overdraft quite easily.

    Rangers fans shouldn't take that all as doom & gloom - you never know, you might just end up with a younger, hungrier team...

  • Comment number 44.

    #43 & Jim Spence

    Football clubs are not exempt from following the rules on taxation despite the fact that a surprising number appear to think they should be.

    If they stories about Dundee are true then they quite deliberately withheld tax that was due and, in my opinion, deserve no sympathy whatsoever. What would happen to me if I did the same thing?

    If all clubs lived within their means, which does include having overdrafts but ones that can be repaid,then they would surely prosper.
    The sooner Platinis plan to make clubs do this and also to pay transfer fees within a season come into play the better. Some clubs certainly need saving from themselves.

    I think you miss the point here. Hearts fans may be welcoming to other Hearts fans no matter where they come from but there is a sizeable proportion that are most unwelcoming to Celtic supporters and have been for years.
    You should take a close look at the behaviour of some of your fellow fans when the ball goes out for a throw in in fron of your big stand. The number of people leaning over shouting abuse, making abusive gestures behind Celtic players backs is disgusting.

    This is not sport and should have no place in the game but strangely enough neither police or stewards appear to notice it.

  • Comment number 45.

    Rangers wanted to spend loads of money they didn't have to win leagues and compete in Europe. A bank gave them that money. Years later the bank wants the money back. 'It's not fair.' cries Smith and, let's face it, Spence.
    What's not fair about it? The money was never a gift. The fact that the banks are publicly owned makes it all the more imperative that the tax-payer who is willy-nilly supporting irresponsible football teams gets his or her money back.
    I'm sorry Mr Spence but your proposition is absurd.

  • Comment number 46.


    Your 'firesale' business plan has one or two rather rash assumptions to it.

    First of all, I wish that the financial situation at Rangers were as straightforward as you seem to believe. The reality is that most Rangers fans are wondering why our debt seems to stubbornly refuse to respond to sizeable injections of cash associated with recent participation in European competitions. This is in spite of the fact that the type of cost-cutting you propose (as part of the remedy) has already taken place. Ferguson, Beasley, Hemdani, Darcheville, Cousin, Novo, Adam, Smith, Thomson and Boyd have all gone from the Rangers salary bill in recent times. If further downsizing is forthcoming, then I would suggest a certain 'Captain of Industry' helps clear up the confusion concerning why the clubs finances do not appear to be benefiting from the sacrifices already made. In fact, maybe Jim would be interested in putting that question to Sir David on our behalf?

    As a self professed businessman you (Blogcritic) should also be aware that you cannot save your way to prosperity. You have to generate revenues and profit and the sort of short-termism you propose would serve only to see the revenues generated at the Ibrox turnstiles plummet. A team of youth players incapable of winning trophies would be financial madness.

    That kind of short-termism is what has led the UK economy to it's over-reliance on a sector that generates precisely NOTHING. A longer-term and more sustainable policy would have seen the UK retain at least some capability to generate wealth by manufacturing goods that people value. It's not an outdated idea. Look at Germany as an example. Instead, we have the obscenity of bankers paying themselves another £7bn in bonuses whilst businesses including football have their life blood drained by these parasites. It's time for our spineless politicians to treat the disease rather than heaping unfair and unjust financial burdens on the rest of the nation. Retrospective taxation of football clubs may offer temporary respite but you can't tax what you eventually put out of business.

  • Comment number 47.

    46. At 2:19pm on 10 Jan 2011, bouncybear wrote:

    "Your 'firesale' business plan"

    "you cannot save your way to prosperity"

    "A team of youth players incapable of winning trophies would be financial madness."

    Three things I didn't say, or hint towards.

    I am not suggesting a "fire sale", I am merely suggesting Rangers should trade their way out of a poor situation in much the same way as any successful business would.

    Neil Alexander and David Goodwillie are both Scotland internationals & excellent players - similar quality to those that could be sold, and Goodwillie also carries the potential to be sold for a greater profit in the future.

    This isn't "short-termism" as you put it - it's a suggestion to arrest the financial slide at a club that generates plenty of money to raise a profit, if the costs were under control.

    "most Rangers fans are wondering why our debt seems to stubbornly refuse to respond to sizeable injections of cash"

    Rangers are not in control of their costs; be it wages, staffing, whatever. You're absolutely right, they keep batting the overdraft down & yet it keeps creeping back up.

  • Comment number 48.


    While I may agree with your comments re manufacturing in this country and the banking sector I feel that you are deluding yourself regarding SDM.
    Rangers as a club and all Rangers supporters were happy to take his money,believe his promises and lap up the good times apparently overlooking the fact that he owned everything at Ibrox and any slump could imperil the stability of the club.

    Now that economic woes have hurt all of his companies why should Rangers be a special case? I don't think you'll find any shareholders or employees who have suffered agreeing with this approach.

    If this were any other club would they have the arrogance to believe that they should be a "special case", I don't think so.

    Cut your cloth accordingly,manage in a prudent fashion and, sadly, Rangers will come back stronger.

    As a taxpayer I do not wish to bail out any football club no matter who it is, there are more important things to deal with in the world.

  • Comment number 49.


    I'm perfectly capable of reading and interpreting your post. If you cannot express your intent adequately don't blame me. An example,

    "I am more than aware of how unreasonable & inflexible the banks are at the moment, but Rangers & other clubs should just do what the rest of us have to do in order to survive - trade to a profit, AND THAT INCLUDES CUTTING COSTS AND SELLING PLAYERS."

    Putting several of a clubs key playing assets up for sale as you advocate, will neither realise their true value nor will it help generate operational revenue. In short, what you are suggesting is a fire sale. Oh, in case it escaped your attention, Rangers ARE currently trading at a profit. Celtic on the other hand....


    In what way am I 'deluding myself' about SDM? Was it just something to write or is there some imagined substance to your allegation?

    By the way, Money spent by football clubs is not YOUR money. The banks money certainly, or in the case of some banks you might argue that it's the government's money. One thing it isn't is YOUR money.

    What's more if the banks chose to INVEST in football clubs that is their business. They obviously felt they would get good returns. If their own actions have damaged the global economy,to the point where their debtors now struggle to repay their debts, then they shouldn't really be crying too much about it. Nor should they be making matters worse by putting otherwise sound companies (football clubs or otherwise) at risk by refusing credit facilities or strangling their cash flow.

    If you want to bemoan misuse of tax revenues, I suggest it would be more productive to write a letter to David Cameron demanding he halts the £7bn bonuses the bankers are about to 'award' themselves. Wishing your rival football team into bankruptcy might seem like a good idea, but it's a bit transparent and as it wont get you or the banks a brass bean it's kinda self-defeating too.

  • Comment number 50.


    I think you should have read my post with a little more care.

    In no way was I wishing Rangers into bakruptcy, read my last sentence.

    Banks did not invest in Rangers they loaned money to them, big difference and the main creditor, LloydsTSB is a bank owned by the British taxpayer of whom I am one therefore it is my money and I repeat, I don't want it used to bail out ANY football clubno matter who it is.

    You seem to think that Murray should have bailed Rangers out before any other of his interests or before the banks took over the running of the club and removed him. No way.

    I don't dispute your views of bankers and their bonuses but that isn't what got Rangers into this mess, they did that by their own mismanagement and belief that the good times would never end.

    If Celtic hadn't had Fergus McCann and fans who bought shares they would have been in the same boat and would have been deserving of no sympathy either.

  • Comment number 51.

    49. At 3:45pm on 10 Jan 2011, bouncybear wrote:

    Oh, in case it escaped your attention, Rangers ARE currently trading at a profit. Celtic on the other hand....

    Standard Old Firm fan response. Who mentioned Celtic?!

    But seeing as you did;

    Celtic overall debt - £5.85 million
    Rangers overall debt - £27.1 million

    And you would BOTH be in major financial problems, were it not for direct entry into the Champions League group stages. Don't take my word for it though, both Chairmen commented on this when delivering their last financial reports.

    And the direct entry spot is no more after this season, so you'd better hope your accounts are improved significantly by then.

    Glad to see you're looking at the bigger picture, however!

  • Comment number 52.

    No true football fan wants to see any club go to the wall - whether it is their greatest rivals or not. But nor do they wish to see thier own club lose out because their rivals have cheated their way to success.

    St Johnstone were cheated out of promotion in 2006-07 by Gretna and (never criticised by our sycophantic journalists) Brooks Mileson. Gretna did the same to Greenock Morton (one of our oldest member clubs) the previous season, and to Cowdenbeath the season before that. Instead of at least questioning this (as Geoff Brown at St Johnstone was doing), our journalists were writing reams of stories about 'dreams' and 'fairytales'.

    This is where Hearts and Dundee Utd fans should worry. There is no problem at those clubs so long as Romanov and Thompson bankroll them. But if they decide, as Brookks Mileson did, to pull the plug, we could find our league missing two of it's greatest clubs. The Thompson's could easily (and understandably) have withdrawn thier support to United after the death of Eddie Thompson. Where would United be now if that had happened? Would they be the holders of the Scottish Cup? Would there ever have been a Hearts v. Gretna final if both clubs had not spent far more than they could ever afford to pay back under normal trading circumstances?

    So no sympathy from me. Rangers will just have to endure fighting it out with Motherwell and Dundee Utd for a top six finish. They bought competitiveness and now it's going to cost them that.

  • Comment number 53.


    You inferred Rangers were needing to cut costs and trade at a profit. I have merely pointed out they have already substantially cut costs and that they ARE trading profitably. Instead of preaching about what others should do or hope, perhaps you should simply focus on getting your facts right?


    Your comment that there is a difference between a bank lending to, or investing in, an organisation suggests you may not understand the business fundamentals of the banking industry. When banks lend they do so BECAUSE they regard it as an investment. That is why they charge interest and it is why they do not lend to every applicant.

    Also please do not presume to know what I am thinking, but since it interests you so much let me tell you.

    I would like SDM to be more transparent than he has been to date. I would like him to tell the Rangers support whether or not he regards the club as an integral part of MIH empire and therefore inextricably linked to the MIH debt, or whether he considers Rangers to be an autonomous organisation with it's own independent accounts. At the moment we do not know whether we are spending money to benefit our club or to reduce the MIH debt. It'd be nice to know which, so we can chose how to spend our money accordingly. I somehow doubt I will get my wish though.

  • Comment number 54.

    53. At 5:32pm on 10 Jan 2011, bouncybear wrote:

    I have merely pointed out they have already substantially cut costs and that they ARE trading profitably.

    You know, you are absolutely right. Problems solved, then!!

    Err, not quite...

    What they have done is a start, but insufficient on it's own. In the last financial year end, Rangers posted a small profit but announced an even smaller decrease in overall debt. Figures like that show they are able to service the debt, but aren't really making any significant inroads into clearing it. The lack of Champions League funds (which Alastair Johnson solely attributed the small profit to) may harm the clubs recovery irreparably.

    If Rangers want to be a force in the future, I believe they may have to sacrifice success in the next couple of seasons in order to come back stronger in the long term.

    By the way, EXCELLENT post by IRN. Absolutely spot on!

  • Comment number 55.


    You have not the faintest idea whether the actions taken by Rangers are 'sufficient' or not and you seem to forget the fact that the club is currently operating to a business plan that has been agreed with Lloyds and which is not contingent upon ongoing participation in European competitions.

    You cite Alastair Johnstone, but in keeping with you level of insight into other matters, you can't even spell his name correctly. The 'small profit' was in fact £13 million most of which was used to clear transfer related debts that did not appear on the books. The reduction in book debt was a relatively 'small' £5 million as a result of this.

    I'm surprised you remain a 'small businessman' as you obviously have a firm grasp of all matters financial, even those you have no factual knowledge of. A promising career in banking must surely beckon.

  • Comment number 56.

    "you can't even spell his name correctly"

    I do apologise. I just took the spelling direct from the Rangers official website, so you may want to have a word with them...

  • Comment number 57.


    For someone that professes NOT to be an OF supporter you sure seem to have an unhealthy fascination with Rangers. Quite ironic really that you should see fit to accuse a professional journalist of allowing his heart to rule his head.

    By the way, maybe you should learn to cut and paste? That said, I'd suggest getting your facts right would be the thing for you to focus your initial efforts on.

    I'm curious to know which debt free team it is that you support? I'm sure they must be paragons of fiscal rectitude to give you the moral justification to pontificate as you do?

  • Comment number 58.

    #44 And Hearts players at Celtic Park are greeted by home fans with what, bunches of roses and kisses? If it makes you feel any better, Hearts fans dish out abuse to all opposing teams, as do Celtic fans and every other home support at every football match in the world. Get real.

  • Comment number 59.


    "But nor do they wish to see thier own club lose out because their rivals have cheated their way to success."

    Until there is a rule banning football clubs from going into debt, it is not cheating. And such a rule would be vigorously opposed by both of the OF. Or do you really think clubs like Celtic and Rangers hand over bags of money when they spend £1m on their latest striker? And do you honestly believe they can challenge in Europe or the EPL, if they ever get there, without borrowing? What's your view of Manchester Utd's debt?

    "This is where Hearts and Dundee Utd fans should worry. There is no problem at those clubs so long as Romanov and Thompson bankroll them. But if they decide, as Brookks Mileson did, to pull the plug, we could find our league missing two of it's greatest clubs."

    This applies to many clubs. Ignoring the fact that comparing Gretna to these clubs is ridiculous (Gretna is a village - it was never sustainable), people generally don't just pull the plug. The clubs would be put up for sale. In Hearts case, Romanov would lose money by pulling the plug. Hibs, Aberdeen, Motherwell, Killie, Rangers and Inverness Caley also rely on rich owners. They could also all pull the plug at any time.

  • Comment number 60.

    I think it's fairly obvious, Rabbity @#59 that I agree with you on your point that Gretna in the SPL was never sustainable, But it's all relative.

    As a village team in the Ryman League Gretna FC was perfectly sustainable (and quite successful). In the SFL? Maybe just. No better or worse than Cowdenbeath, Berwick Rangers or East Stirlingshire. No offence intended to any of those truly excellent clubs (I mean it!).

    It's all relative.

    Alex Ferguson said (when he joined Aberdeen) that East Stirlingshire would never be a St Mirren, St Mirren would never be an Aberdeen and that Aberdeen would never be a Manchester United. Fergie was right.

    Gretna, with £4m debt in the SPL was calamitous. Hearts with what, £30m debt is similarly calamitous.....unless their benefactor continues to bankroll them.

    Tell me this, Rabbity: If Rangers struggle to repay their £27m debt in the SPL and Champions League, how can Hearts repay even more on a fraction of Rangers turnover?

  • Comment number 61.

    'What's more if the banks chose to INVEST in football clubs that is their business.'

    I suppose the converse is equally true, which leads us neatly to this...

    'When banks lend they do so BECAUSE they regard it as an investment...and it is why they do not lend to every applicant.'

    Which, in a nutshell, is why the bank are no longer willing to finance RFC, in much the same way that they won't give me several thousand pounds for some Apple Macs on the off-chance that I win some new web site contracts to pay for them.

  • Comment number 62.

    hey, where's my ?

  • Comment number 63.


    "Tell me this, Rabbity: If Rangers struggle to repay their £27m debt in the SPL and Champions League, how can Hearts repay even more on a fraction of Rangers turnover?"

    Because Hearts (owned by UBIG) and the institution they owe money to (UBIG) have an agreed payment schedule that appears to work for both parties? Plus the owners of Hearts have more control over the club's finances than Rangers owners.

    Incidentally, Hearts are currently in the middle of a pretty aggressive cost-cutting exercise. Their wage bill is significantly lower than the last few seasons and crowds remain steady. And in Templeton, Driver, Wallace and hopefully Novikovas, Hearts have some decent playing assets. Less debt would be nice, but most of Hearts current debt was incurred by the previous regime and the current owner seems to be comfortable with the situation.

  • Comment number 64.

    for me i wouldn't be suprised if last night empty stadium will be the start of a boycott due to the banks holding funds for rangers, as walter smith has cleared some debt, it can be done again.

  • Comment number 65.


    Not convinced there will be any fan boycott at Ibrox and for a club in this much debt in Scottish football you've got off lightly so far. The game was on the TV after all, it was a pretty rough night and many will be sitting it out til they get paid at the end of this month.

    Don't you think there are enough assets at the club (players and infrastructure) to wipe out much of the debt if the bank chose to go down this route?

    And not convinced either that the 'banks are holding funds for Rangers' since they effectively run the club financially. Rangers (MIH) owe the bank not the other way round.

    And I would guess that even irrespective of the uncertainty about the proposed takeover Rangers need to sell at least one or even two of their so-called 'crown jewels' before they can buy.

    The interesting question for Rangers fan surely must be the players that will inevitably be shipped out and also be the type of owners they may have at the end of this month. Craig Whyte may be a fan but Andrew Ellis isn't in it for love!

  • Comment number 66.


    Thanks for the lessons in banking and computer skills.

    It lends nothing to the debate when you descend to such levels but merely serves to reinforce my opinion that you must be a merchant banker.

  • Comment number 67.

    well sorry rob04 im a season ticket holder and i was at the game last night it was the worst turn out from 1986 even my old man said it, Most of the folks i sit with have said themselfs that after the seasons out they are not renewing there season tickets, which i thought was a bit out there, i have bee speculating about the idea myself, its a sad day when a manager as good as smith wont be aloud to get the fund he needs to replenish the squad which we go to see week in week out. it's simply NOT good enuff loyds need to get a grip after all the were saved buy the government.

  • Comment number 68.

    Its an interesting comparison you make with 1986 though Derek and last night's attendance was comparable with that time as you say.

    Trouble is in 86 you were losing and slipping in the league and yet here we are and the attendances are slipping badly again and you are winning and would top the league if you won your games in hand.

    I guess a lot hinges on the proposed takeover if it ever happens but I don't get the feeling that the Whyte/Ellis interest has generated any of the 'razzle dazzle' feeling among Rangers supporters in quite the same way as the Marlborough and Murray eras.

  • Comment number 69.

    As i have said tho this is to do with the bank not anyone else, the bank will not allow us to spend the funds we need for a few player the extend our squad. Nothing to do with eras, whyte/ellis could buy us an then make us worse.

  • Comment number 70.


    Does the attendance last night not emphasise what happens when;
    (a) Game is on live tv
    (b) The weather is dreadful
    (c) Prices are too high

    I saw bits of the match and it looked like a terrible night to be out never mind at a football match.Fair play to those who went, probably lots of Lemsip needed today.

    Intersting comments from season ticket holders about not renewing next season.This should be another reminder to SPL that fans can't be taken for granted anymore.

  • Comment number 71.

    not really as last season no matter the weather or if the game was on t.v it was jam packed when i have been, last night game was around £20 a ticket not really expensive. emails i get from rangers....



    Tickets are on sale now to see Rangers host Kilmarnock in the Scottish Cup 4th Round at Ibrox this Monday, 10 January, kick-off 7.30pm.

    Tickets are priced at £20 for adults, £10 for concessions and £5 for kids.


    Kids are sure to have a ball in the Family Section before Rangers v Hamilton Academical on Saturday 15 January, kick-off 3pm. We’re having a party in the Broomloan Rear and there will be a DJ and disco, games for the kids and the chance to win signed prizes! Youngsters can also meet Broxi Bear from 1.30pm to 2pm.

    Plus - there will also be chocolate treats for ALL children in the stadium! Gates open at 1.30pm so make sure you arrive early.


    Don’t forget to snap up your Clydesdale Bank Premier League tickets to see the Light Blues host St Mirren on Tuesday 18 January at Ibrox Stadium, kick-off 7.45pm. Tickets are priced at just £7 for kids and concessions and £23 for adults.

    as you can see i dont belive its down to weather or cost i feel it may be due to the news that broke regarding the bank with rangers.

  • Comment number 72.

    Er Jim, I thought that the whole reason that we got into this financial crisis was banks were stupidly loaning money to business that couldn't hope to pay them back?

    Everybody involved should shoulder the blame for imprudence - the banks who offer the deals, and the clubs that were stupid enough to take them.

    The bank won't cut me any slack, why should they do any different for a football club?

    Remember - post bail-out, most of the money owed belongs to the tax payer and the banks have a duty to reclaim it.

  • Comment number 73.

    I think the general consensus here is that we got ourselves into this mess and it's not Lloyds fault, but they want their money back.

    Many people are saying that football clubs should be treated no differently to any other business, but the fact of the matter is they should, because they aren't like any other business. Football teams are not institutions designed to generate money, and subsequently must be handled in a different way. Yes the debt must be repayed. And yes Lloyds want the money repayed ASAP, which for them means not allowing spending. But the problem there is that by not allowing Rangers to buy new players or extend contracts, yet still accepting any offer that comes in for existing ones the club will continue to get smaller. At some point (in the near future by the looks of it) the size of the squad will be so threadbare that new players will be required. At such a time we will have to fork out a tranfer/signing fee as well as the required wages. By getting our existing players on long term contracts, not only will that stop them leaving (and us needing to buy new players) but it also means that we will be able to command larger fees for players that do leave.

  • Comment number 74.

    I understand your point sweenie02 @ #73. How does it help the bank to get Rangers to repay them by making them work in ever decreasing circles?

    The answer can only be that the ever decreasing circle will have a detrimental effect on Rangers and not the bank because there is sufficient assets available to extinguish the debt or substantially reduce it to a level the bank is willing to accept.

    A house owner may have a mortgage for £50k but owns a house worth £100k. If that house owner has arrears that meets the legal criteria for the bank to take lawful possession (repossession) of that property and sell it to recoup that £50k, then the bank couldn't really care less what they get for it. They will sell to the highest bidder. If that highest bidder bids only £50k (enough to repay the amount borrowed) the bank are happy. The fact that our house owner loses out big time is his/her problem. Same for Rangers.

    Lloyd's don't care if Rangers can't beat Celtic, don't qualify for the Champions League, win no trophies and maybe not make the top six. They just want their money back. If that means selling Rangers best assets then tough on the debtor.

    Actually, by selling established players, Rangers may benefit by being forced to throw in young players who, in turn, will see their value increase by being put in the shop window - just as players like Danny Wilson and Alan McGregor have/will reduce Rangers debt.

  • Comment number 75.

    "Everyone has to pay their dues and everyone has to learn to live within their means, but a little understanding and a little more time to pay, from those who needed the taxpayers' help themselves a short time ago, seems only fair. "

    Jim, Normally I think your blogs are excellent, but you've picked the wrong target this time. I have to agree with the majority of posters on here that you've called this one very wrong.

    Smith's whole reasoning (and yours, it seems) can be summed up as 'They've got a cheek - they won't give us a hand, yet they needed one themselves not so long ago' - ignoring that it's precisely BECAUSE they were given a hand that they can't afford to hand out money like confetti anymore. It would completely irresponsible of them to go back to that, and insulting to the tax payers of this country.

    Plus, it's not that Smith's looking for more time to pay, he's actively looking to increase the debt!

    To my mind, Rangers have got off VERY lightly given what a state they are in - if most people or organisations were in the mess they were in financially, do you think they'd be given the time and arrangements that Rangers have to turn things around?!?

    Rangers fans, before they start organising some sort of official boycott (rather than the 'disinterested' one that seemed to go on the other night), might like to reflect on Celtic's position when the fans took similar action. We had a white knight waiting in the wings, our problem was that the then current owners wouldn't sell to them, and the boycott forced the owners to sell or take the club under. Rangers have no-one - they've got somebody hanging around, that their own chairman has publicly cast doubt on, who only seems to be there to garner publicity. As far as I can see, a boycott would only driver Rangers further into the mire, and put their existence even further in doubt.

    The other problem is that because Rangers problems are so well known, clubs aren't going to bid the full whack for players - a bit like Rangers did with Dundee when signing Gavin Rae and Khizanishvili (I've probably spelt that wrong!). On paper McGregor might be an £8 million keeper, but clubs aren't going to bid that, knowing full well that Rangers are under pressure to get money in.

    As the earlier poster says, the only solution seems to be for Rangers to suck it up for a few years, and then come back stronger, and who know's younger, hungrier players not just there for a pension top up might bring success in the meantime anyway.

  • Comment number 76.

    It's about control really, isn't it? Romanov remains in control at Tynecastle with one of his companies (Hearts) owing a pile of money to another of his companies (UBIG). At Pittodrie, the presence of Stewart Milne allied to the club's intention of living within its means wards off external interference. You could say the same for the Thomson family at Tannadice and there are other examples too. Consequently, as long as debt repayments arrive with the bank on time, as per an agreed schedule, tben the bankers are happy and let the club owners get on with the business of running the club. At Ibrox, the arrival of a bank representative on the board means that the club has effectively relinquished control of key decisions (also, although in rather more extreme examples over the last few years, see Dundee, Gretna, Livingston & Motherwell spending more than they could afford). IRN up there ^ is bang on as regards the bank's utter lack of sentiment.

  • Comment number 77.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 78.

    FrustratedBuddie is as ill informed as many on these blogs re Dundee's position.

    The club was fooled by Mr Melville's promises to fund player signings (DFC only paid for 2 players - Harkins and Griffiths) and ongoing operational costs. For reasons that hopefully will come out in public soon he backtracked and DFC were left in a mess.

    People lost their jobs (players and backroom staff) and the fans are left yet again to pick up the pieces - raising over £200k in a short period of time from a mainly working class support. Yet fans come on here and gloat, want the team demoted to division 3 and given 25 penalty points for what purpose? So more people can loose their jobs?

    The club will not die - the fans will ensure through hard graft a team in some form will survive and a proud tradition (despite the 2 administrations - caused by different situations) over 100 years will continue.

    Many clubs in Scotland are teetering on brink, kept alive only by further financial investment from directors against a backdrop on a non sustainable business model. Which team will be next to go into administration? I sincerely hope it is not yours.

  • Comment number 79.

    Don't think anyone is gloating over the Dundee situation just pointing out the rules that should be applied as they were to other clubs.

    Totally agree that it's always the fans that suffer most,but this club should have learned from the first debacle.

    As has been agreed on this blog, banks will not support clubs which are not financially solvent and it might be better for Dundee to be run by their fans, couldn't be any worse could they?

  • Comment number 80.

    #3 Perhaps if every other team listened to Rangers, Celtic and Aberdeen when they said the Setanta deal was a bad one our game would not be in such a state. Instead we had to settle for a much poorer deal months later and again clubs were forced to downsize further.

    I still laugh at these comments about Rangers and foreign players. Perhaps in the past yes but the same could be said of Hearts. Dundee Utd etc. Our current squad is pretty much full of Scots but yet people fail to recognise this, probably the same folk who moan when four or five of them turn out for Scotland.

    Regarding the offer for Goodwillie, Rangers have a similar situation in that there is no way that we will get the value expected for Bougherra and McGregor. As much as I like Goodwillie he still hasn't done anything that we should be throwing 1.5m at. Also as we all know an offer of this level is unlikely to be allowed at the moment by the bank.

  • Comment number 81.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 82.

    In reality the banks have been extremely patient with Scottish football, some may say too patient. Leave the finance to Robert Peston as you clearly don't have a clue.

  • Comment number 83.

    I think this post has run its course Jim, got any more good ideas?

  • Comment number 84.

    Sorry to return to the well worn issue of league reconstruction but perhaps you will forgive me and indulge me if you actually consider this a different approach.

    On the surface seeking a 20 team SPL with 2 divisions doesn't seem revolutionary and has been rejected by others as creating too many meaningless matches. However, if we face the reality that for 18 of the teams (well all of them actually if you think hard) games against the Old Firm are what they all want with the 'tribal' cohorts who will unthinkingly follow even to games against outclassed and outresourced teams. BUTif you considered that hard fact and added in the American idea of conferenceing the league why could we not recognise the financial hegemony of the Old Firm by having 2 divisions - a Celtic one and a Rangers one (my choice is alphabetic in case there is any thought of bias one way or the other). Who is in each division would be determined by league position. Even if the Old Firm don't end up 1 and 2 in the league their positions viz a viz the other would determine whether they have a league made up of the odds or evens finishers beloiw them or around them using the same kind of weighting as they do in tennis. The divisions would themn play each other home and away with the top 5 in each playing each other home and away in the second part of the season to determine European places and the lower 10 playing to see who loses their place in the Conference - this should be exactly yhe same number of places as are avaialble for European places.
    This approach means that all teams would have something to stay competitive for i.e. at least half a season where they wiull get 2 home games against the Old Firm.

  • Comment number 85.

    Amazing to see so many double and even triple standards here. Of course if clubs are run poorly, they should be prepared to suffer the consequences, e.g. administration, signing bans or other types of control by financiers, after all what is really the difference between a Murray, a Melville, a Thomson or a Romanov and any of the Banks that may now be seeking a greater influence over club business. Each gives money and assurances in return for payment either in cash (banks), glory (Murray) or the joy of their team being successful (The Marr brothers at Dundee). All of those financiers take risks, some more enthusiastically than others. As a fan of Dundee, I realise that some of the football I watched from my team in the last 8 or 9 years was much better than I had a right to expect, but if I had to place a vote for who I would prefer to be running my club now, it would be the bank. We have had Director fans, we have had the glory hunting Director investor, both made a right mess of things (though some of the football in the Marr era was sublime and surely enhanced Scottish football). At least the bank will not put the very existence of the club in jeopardy.

    What happened to Dundee could very easily happen to several clubs in the SPL and SFL. Why are you all so rancorous about Dundee after our gamble failed. Where is the crime here, is it in getting caught out or is it in taking on the dangerous risk in the first place. Surely people are not suggesting that an addicted gambler is good and upstanding right up until he looses all the family wealth. If what Dundee did was wrong, then what Hearts, Dundee United and Rangers is doing is just as wrong (ditto by the way, for Chelsea, Man City et al). The fact that they have not quite lost all the family wealth yet is as much down to chance as it is to the extraordinary benevolence of their financiers (and the remarkable leniency of their auditors).

    If Scottish football is to thrive, then it must put in place rules to protect clubs from over-extending themselves. The biggest factor in a clubs financial success should be directly related to the amount of trading income it can attract, just like any other business. Of course that means that big city clubs will almost always prevail but has it ever been any different.

    Please then, stop defending Rangers, condoning Dundee United and Hearts and condemning Dundee. Condemn us all or accept the ridiculous status quo. The moral high ground clearly is under the control of clubs like St. Mirren who actually try to live within their means and have achieved a bit of success on the back of it. If only the good people of Paisley would really get behind their team, they could trade their way from the bottom end of the league.

    I think Jim, that sympathising with Walter Smith whilst rightly condemning Dundee (as you have done in recent months) is contradictory. The practice of living beyond your means is a far greater crime than having the misfortune to get caught out by it. Walter Smiths solution to living beyond his means is to live even further beyond his means, how mad is that?

  • Comment number 86.


    Very polished and articulate defence of your club.

    I think the difference with Dundee though was that they got on the 'Titanic' twice in such quick sucession that it really did beggar belief that it was allowed to happen.

    I remember when Rangers started their first big spending splurge in the 80's and people saying that it could all end tomorrow: little realising at the time that their 'tomorrow' would be another quarter century away.

    St Mirren may not get much appreciation in the Paisley area for their efforts in keeping their club financially stable but they at least will survive these leaner years. Others might not.

  • Comment number 87.

    FAO Andrew Keith:

    Any chance of you standing for election whenever George Peat relinquishes control? That was superb!

    Clubs should control their spending & there should be rules in place to ensure that.

    Nobody is saying that David Murray, Vladimir Romanov, Calum Melville or for that matter Roman Abramovich or Sheikh Mansour are maliciously trying to bankrupt their individual clubs, they are merely "living the dream" as Peter Risdale infamously put it. We all know where that got him.

    We need regulations to control debt & restrict clubs from entering into spiraling & unmanageable debt. It's the poor fans who always pay the price.

  • Comment number 88.


    The answer will be arriving very soon following this weeks announcement from Platini and the imposition of measures to ensure that clubs will be forced to live within their means.
    This is the first sensible idea to come from UEFA in a long time.

    #85 I sympathise with you as a fellow supporter but I think there is a difference between the cases you describe.Dundee used taxpayers money by withholding payments due to HMRC and that is illegal. Rangers are "alleged" to have done something similar but that has yet to be proven as far as I'm aware. If it is they will also face penalties.

  • Comment number 89.

    It is not a good sight when clubs don't get money for the transfer windows. Managers go ballistic, and they feel hard done by, when they don't get any players.

  • Comment number 90.

    Andrew Keith #85 writes well but I think he is mistaken in thinking that putting rules in place that prevent clubs over-extending themselves will help Scottish football thrive. The point deduction for going into administration already does that, just some clubs choose to make the gamble in the hope of getting away with it, as is the case of his club.

    There is a world of difference between having a negotiated overdraft and being unable to pay your debts.

  • Comment number 91.

    It probably about time for Jim to give us another piece to discuss, but I would like to respond quickly if I may to some of the comments on my entry yesterday.

    There have been many things said about Dundee's current predicament and the situation with other clubs, not all of it fair. The finances of most clubs is for the most part, amazingly simple. Income comes from ticket and merchandise sales and sponsorship. Expenditure goes on keeping up the ground, putting on games and paying staff (of which PAYE income tax bills are a consequence). Transfers in or out are extraordinary and, in the best run clubs, are kept at least in equilibrium. If a club for whatever reason finds itself with too little money, they have to choose what to pay. The choice is between staff wages with or without the PAYE, putting on a game or keeping the pitch in shape. Dundee simply chose to delay paying the PAYE and NI on wages. Not paying staff wages would have saved tax but would have been condemned by everyone. Not putting on a game or keeping up the pitch would have been suicide.

    Of course, what they should have done was to sell some players, renegotiate contracts with staff including players, make some people redundant and initiate a scything cost cutting exercise. That they didn't was down to either incompetent mismanagement or a belief that Melville would fulfil his promise to finance the club in full for several years.

    Now, stop right there before shouting Hah! Try substituting Thomson, Romanov, Murray, Mansour etc etc for Melville.

    Yes Dundee did it twice and yes Rangers have now come close twice. Dundee failed to take the measures that Lloyds are now forcing on Rangers and can only look on enviously, from what might now be the second division.

    Re #90, the penalty for terminal mismanagement is administration - believe me that is very nasty indeed. The penalty for administration (i.e.getting caught out) is the points deduction. We need to stop clubs reaching terminal mismanagement, not hammer them when they do. A series of increasingly severe penalties could be introduced for clubs which do not balance their trading books on a quarterly basis. Run football like a stock exchange. Regular detailed information about each club's financial situation would make things much more open and make it more difficult for glory hunters to risk the whole shop on a few pieces of silverware.

    My preferred alternative, however, is for clubs to be owned by their communities through local councils, in effect making them public bodies. Resources such as a ground and training facilities would be provided publicly. Professional managers would be hired to run each team and any profits would be returned to the community. Towns and cities would get the teams their size and fervour for football merited and we would no doubt have a vast majority of home grown talent. That Celtic team of '67 where they were all born within 20 miles of Celtic Park, should not be trotted out as a poignant reminder of days gone by. It should be an achievable objective for every club.......

  • Comment number 92.


    You mention Romanov of Hearts in your list of owners putting clubs at risk and then say you would choose to be run by a bank than any of these owners.

    Can I just point out Hearts are owned by a private bank/financial institution so Hearts are perhaps more in control of their finances than the other clubs.


    I've got no sympathy for Dundee. They have twice gone into administration now and have cost businesses and individuals money as a result. None of the other clubs you mention have done that.

    I think the 25 points penalty is fair enough to stop other clubs - and Dundee for a third time - trying the same thing.

  • Comment number 93.

    Sorry Jim your thinly disguised 'save the Gers' plea for philantrophic mercy from Ranger's creditors holds less water than your average sieve.
    Rangers past spending amounts to the 'fiscal doping' coined by Platini. Their total disregard for financial prudence contributed significantly to on-field successes. A level playing field demands that they should not now be protected from the consequences of past actions now the financial chickens are coming home to roost.
    Every club has to operate within it's financial limits. Sadly for their fans Rangers are having to learn this the hard way...

  • Comment number 94.

    The banks that were bailed out were Scottish (RBS and HBOS).I have no sympathy for the SPL /SFL as the product is a poor standard.Why waste more money after bailing out the Scottish banks.

  • Comment number 95.

    Post 94

    Can you explain what you mean when you say these UK banks are 'Scottish' banks?


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