Bailout and thanks

Date: 21st December 2020

The latest blog from SFSA writer Donald Stewart:

Over the last week I have read a great deal from people about how this club and that club are close to the brink. Ann Budge has confirmed to Robbie Nielson, apparently, that the financial difficulties shall not affect his player budget. Inverness Caledonian staff allegedly wept with joy when the rescue package was announced.

As for Greenock Morton, is it actually too late?

I wrote last week about the selflessness of David Hopkin in falling on his sword and leaving the club so that it can save money. Little did I realise the extent to which he had gone to support the club itself. According to the interim manager, Anton McElhone, he had paid wages, bonuses and for food for the staff.

It sounds like the act of a man who has given his all to a club or a game to which he feels a very strong affinity.

There is a very real possibility, I have read, that Morton may be the very first casualty of the pandemic. The Tail O’ the Bank no more never made it into a Proclaimers’ song and we must surely try and avoid it ever doing so.

Whilst the financial lifeline being administered by the SFA is more than welcome, once again it is about how the big can access bigger and the wee can get what’s left.

And so, I wonder, how many will fall to the same fate as Morton as fans are beginning to shake and shudder?

Given the close affinity the Rae family have with the club I am somewhat confused over the problems that come with supporting an institution with which the family became closely aligned. Ann Budge has hardly got the same track record but yet seems to be adopting a different approach. Then again, the amount of annual percentages of their disposable income that the Rae family have poured into their local club may dwarf the amount that Ann Budge has provided for Hearts.

It might.

What is, however, glaringly different is that at a time of great need, Budge appeared and led the charge to safety. At the time of great need in Greenock, chairman Crawford Rae appears to have adopted a hermit like approach.

I am able to give insight into the role of Mr. Hopkin because of an interview with Mr. McElhone in the Greenock Telegraph; not the man who is at the head of the club, the Chairman.

It may be wrong to claim it, but the impression given may be, that the family Rae have tired of this albatross and would wish it swept away from their doorstep. Fan led ownership is on the horizon but is some months away – should it be fast tracked to now?

The bailout has clearly been welcome and vitally important, but it has come at a time when there are plenty of other questions being asked. Not amongst them are the legions of people who have been doing similar things to what David Hopkins has done for years.

They have given time, money, resources and effort to keep their clubs afloat for a lot longer than the 18 months at which David Hopkins was at Cappielow. They all have a singular name – fans.

In addressing both the long term and the short term recovery of community assets, with clubs clearly facing undeniable difficulty, what is the Recovery Plan? With the combined intelligence at Hampden and the undeniable army of business and voluntary acumen around the game – why is there not a public call for everyone to pull in the same direction, with a singular vision, even a myopic, monocular vision for debate would help. Once again people are sitting waiting for news and not taking the helm to make it.

I applaud Hopkins and Budge and I believe that Budge has not been taking anything out of the club which makes her as much of a fan volunteer as anyone else. She is also working towards fan ownership too though refuses to just hand it over. She wants to see something tangible ready to take over apparently and I have to say, I find that a good thing.

So, the bailout is a good thing too.

We have to wonder though, at what point does them pesky fans become a good thing too?


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