HMS Ibrox – “Don’t bring an anchor, on a sinking boat”

Poet Anthony Liccione has a famous quote: “Don’t bring an anchor, on a sinking boat”

From the outside looking in HMS Ibrox is taking on water and they’ve just added some extra weight for good measure. It has been well reported ‘the’ Rangers finances were shy of some £10million when it came to breaking even, and that was before the tsunami struck that is Covid 19 and enveloped the whole of Scottish football.

For a club in such a questionable financial position you’d think it would take some amount of player sales and/or investment to steer the ship to gentler financial climes. Yet it appears ‘the’ Rangers have an altogether different plan. Looks like they intend to speculate to accumulate. I think I may have seen this movie before. If so it was a brilliant ending. It may be time to get the popcorn out again.

The signing of Ianis Hagi following his loan spell from Genk takes some explaining. Season ticket sales? Possibly. Sell on value? Bit of a stretch that one.

Hagi is a player who has been transferred outside Romania twice to Fiorentina and Genk and still all he’s known for is having a famous old man. Unless the Ibrox coaching staff know better than either of those two clubs, it looks like they’ve been sold a pup. This guy has had ever depreciating value not an upward trajectory. Any reason why that is likely to change?

Unless of course this is a wee softener ahead of upcoming pain for the fans of the Ibrox club. Say someone heading for the exit door and Hagi is to act as the human shield for a board about to have to do some Colombian shaped explaining?

You’d think there had to be some method to their clear madness, but when it comes to the financial management at Ibrox, method is often lacking. Or is it?

Jim White was quick to announce the payments for Hagi will be spread over several accounting periods, meaning much like the Ryan Kent signing from Liverpool, ‘the’ Rangers won’t be paying this transfer fee in one fell swoop. Perhaps they are using the same finance company as Glens, Hutchisons, Robertsons and Stepek. I think I got a new TV with a similar deal a few years back.

It looks therefore much like the fanfare around Ryan Kent, that young Hagi is a player his previous employer is so keen to get off their books that they are willing to set up a monthly direct debit and keep their fingers crossed that the Ibrox club don’t revert to form and default.

When ‘the’ Rangers sporting director Ross Wilson thanked Genk for their “flexibility and creativity” in negotiating the transfer he wasn’t kidding was he? Sounds like the Belgian club are happy to get shot. So when Hagi himself says he turned down alternative offers to sign on at Ibrox you’d have to wonder about the payment plans those clubs were offering. Any chance Hearts were in for a Romanian wide-boy?

Michael Stewart as ever seems to be the only mainstream commentator asking the questions around this strange old deal regarding both the timing and the outlay. Apparently the Rangers PR team went on the offensive at that point and hence Jim White announcing the hire purchase agreement.

Yet those questions don’t go away just by announcing and extended line of credit. If you were a furloughed member of staff sweating on your ongoing employment or a player who had in good faith deferred wages due the financial constraints the club was under due to Covid 19, would you be happy if a new boy got signed up on a lucrative new contract and came strolling through the door? Is that the respect the Ibrox boardroom have for their contracted players and their admin staff? Looks that way.

Still, if you put yourself in the brown brogues at Ibrox you can understand the stressful nature. Celtic are on the brink of ten titles and they of course have their pride, no really they apparently do.

If Hagi is the great hope to end Celtic’s dominance I won’t be losing any sleep, if that’s their trump card I’d fancy that 10th title is heavily weighted in our favour, and if this transfer deal is indicative of their recruitment plans for the summer it may be time to add the jelly and ice cream to the click and collect order.

I think the most amusing part of the whole story was that as Genk were selling young Hagi to ‘the Rangers, Celtic were selling Eboue Kouassi to the Belgian club. As that first payment for the Romanian wonderkid was hitting the accounts of the Jupiler league side, the transfer button was being pressed and heading for Celtic FC. We can only hope any remaining payments on the Kouassi deal are not dependent on ‘the’ Rangers adhering to their payment plan. Mr Lawwell would have checked that right?

All in all it is a strange old transfer and one that leaves more questions than answers.

As Anthony Liccione alluded to, it probably is best to avoid weight being added to a sinking ship. Though he also wrote this:

“Some people would rather die in their pride, than live in their humility.”

Twice over it would appear.

Niall J



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About Author

As a Bellshill Bhoy I was taken to my first Celtic game in the summer of 1987. It was Billy McNeill’s return to Celtic Park as manager and Celtic lost 5-1 to Arsenal . I thought I was a jinx, I think my Grandfather might have thought the same. It was the finest gift anyone ever gave me when he walked me through Parkhead's gates.

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