Unintended Consequences, And Not Thinking It Through.
Harold Wilson told us that a week is a long time in politics. Well,it’s a blink of an eye in football. Only a week ago,I wrote the following in the article for 23rd of March.
“But these are exceptional times,and as such,exceptional measures may be considered to tide clubs over in their time of need. Would the SFA possibly be amenable to the fabled pre-pack administration much loved by certain entrepreneurs and businessmen? Perhaps if they were notified in advance by say Hearts and Rangers and possibly one or two others,they could give the all-clear,announce the end of the season table based on points deductions along with a one-off fourteen team SPL for next year,with three down to Follow Follow. Additionally that the Scottish Cup would be withheld this season due to the crisis.
Everyone’s a winner as no-one loses,just as I said in an earlier article. Hearts stay up-and solvent-Rangers stay in business until the next time. One or two clubs shed some debt that’s been hanging round their necks like a millstone. The only losers here are Celtic. We get nine in a row,sure. But we don’t get to celebrate it,and there will certainly be an asterisk put beside that one in the record books! On top of that,it scuppers our march to a fourth treble. Hell,they’ll probably split the SPL prize money an even twelve ways because they bloody well can.”
Just to prove that we aren’t paranoid enough,there is now serious talk of doing exactly the above-but with the added garnish of declaring the season null and void,thus robbing us of our title! Now,the main reason I didn’t think that they would do that is because the clubs would have to repay all the ticket money received over the duration of the null and void season,but if they go into administration,that debt dies along with any others. So the only clubs who would suffer are the well-run ones who avoid administration but have to repay fans from their own coffers.
As it stands,I expect all the full-time clubs in Scotland to accept any waiver of the normal rules on insolvency events,unless they have a watertight Business Interruption insurance policy. These,of course,don’t come cheap. And even those clubs who have paid their premiums on this type of policy might be advised to test just how watertight that policy is before they decide against following the administration route. It’s an absolute mess at the moment,and I don’t think that declaring the season null and void is a sensible option. Equally,I don’t think that encouraging clubs down the path of a pre-pack administration is sending out the right signals either. But these are strange times,and we are dealing with unprecedented problems. Making the rules up as you go along is just the very thing that the SFA/SPFL do best,and with the current virus crisis they can really show their creative thinking at its very best!
Now you and I,as paranoid Tims of long-standing,will know that this avenue is really only being explored for the benefit of one club. That being able to offer the carrot to the whole of the Scottish game just when they might need it is like a Get Out of Jail card for them. We all know that the huns are living on borrowed time,and had been for a very long time. We all know that they’ve been living on borrowed money for their entire existence too. In fact,it was his refusal to pony up another half a million to cover his share of the £1.5m shortfall in the March wage bill that led to the departure of Dave King from the scene. The shortfall would have been more than double that amount had their game against Leverkusen not gone ahead the night before football was suspended. Even if they do pre-pack,their operating costs will still remain at around £50m per season,and way above their income. And since they can’t administrate their way out of football debts,those outstanding transfer fee instalments will still have to be made.
And the large debt to Close Bros cannot be written off in a pre-pack,because they took surety of property and assets against that loan. So they might not be Sevco anymore,but they will still be carrying Sevco’s operating costs and a large part of their debt. In fact,their third coming might not even last as long as their second one,as I imagine that some of their “funding fathers” might see it as an opportunity to get the hell out of Dodge,explaining that they have done their best,they lost a great deal of money when Sevco went bust,and they feel it is only fair to carry the can for the failure. Nothing to do with snapping up the chance to put an end to their own cash being pissed up against a wall.
Nothing good will come out of this course of action. The fans will be raging at getting no money back for a season that didn’t exist,sponsors and advertisers ditto. TV companies will be wondering whether splashing out on our game is worth it when then goalposts can be moved on a whim. Celtic will be beelin’ at watching less-prudent clubs getting away with murder,while they bleed their cash reserves on doing the right thing. It’s like watching the council rebuilding your neighbour’s house for him because it burnt down and he had no insurance. The fact that he was playing with matches and a canister of petrol and didn’t listen to your warnings cuts no ice,nor does the fact that his fire damaged your home and you have to pay for that damage yourself.
I don’t want Celtic to try to stop this from happening if it is the only way that some clubs in Scotland can survive all of this. After all,we will need teams around to play when football starts up again. But I do expect them to fight the suggestion of a null and void season,because it is the worst option of all of those available. It will not solve the problems that currently exist,because teams which were looking good for titles,whether that be us or those going for promotion,are the only ones which are being punished here. There are two alternatives available,and these options should be kept open. The first is to finish the season at the earliest available opportunity,and the viability of that option is being overtaken by events on a daily basis. The second is to award the titles on the basis of average points won per game,and promote that team plus the team finishing second. European places awarded on the same basis. With no relegation,that would mean having a different set up for the SPL next season and two new teams coming in at the bottom tier. Keep it that way for a year,and the year after impose a three down,one up on each division. Job done. Because,think of it this way. If we null and void the season,what’s to stop UEFA doing the same thing with their competitions? Scotland would no longer have been deemed to have been on a terrific run in the European rankings. Our coefficient would be ratcheted back to its previous lowly status.
Oh dear,what a shambles that will be when the huns realise that their Champions League place for finishing second in future has been taken away from them!
If you’re gonna lie and cheat,best make sure that there are no unintended consequences. This whole null and void idea has plenty of them.
Above article by BMCUWP