Date: 2nd June 2020
The latest from SFSA writer Donald Stewart:
Down at the lending library…
Picture the scene
There is a stooshy down the bank as a couple of likely lads have arrived to try and get a loan from the usually austere bank manager who appears to be having none of it.
It is mid afternoon on a scorching hot unseasonal afternoon in a Scottish summer. Known for its lashings of rain and Sub Arctic temperatures, summers in Scotland were never this good unless yer granny experienced them. But here we are in a room of three…
Sitting suitably impervious on one side is “The Manager”. He has been A Manager for many years and has survived the crash of 2009, whilst propping up local sporting clubs with little more than “community spirit”. Always an esteemed guest of these clubs when he came down to see them play he would sit and take stock of the other type of spirit in copious quantities whilst allowing all the “community spirit” they could muster as collateral for the unimaginable loans needed to keep this community enterprise afloat.
Sport, after all, is not like any other business…
That was until the Great Govan Gazump of a few years ago. Fitba clubs had trembled, banks had demurred and called things in and the world had shaken its head as they heard about succulent lamb, out of the park wealth and basket cases all round. The Manager had only seen baskets with chicken in them but was willing to accept that in fitba, you have never seen everything.
And here were a couple in front of him for across the table there were “The Two”
They had paused whilst coffee and teas were served between them and that pause allowed The Manager to try and reflect on the discussions he had so far been party to. “The Two” had arrived to request a loan of £5 Million for a Romanian acquisition. The first part of the discussion had seen them make a number of biblical references, try and explain that they were represented and institution that was the same as the institution before but different and how they were trying to install good governance whilst hawking their wares because as they kept saying that they were, were they not, the people?
The Manager was not convinced, and once tea and coffee was being drunk he turned to “The Two”.
“Mr Gerard and Mr Park, you will understand my reluctance to part with £5 Million given the track record of your company which is not very old…”
“Ah,” Mr Park was the first to respond by interruption. “But we are the most successful club because we are the same club.”
“I see. And if I may, “The Manager reached into the desk and pulled a long list from it. “If you are the same as before, there are some significant debts…”
“Ah,” Mr Park was the second to respond by interruption. “But we have an agreement to have these laid aside and as such, as Daniel might say in the lions’ den, if you will, Mr Stewart, we are here to move forward and make the next phase a successful one.”
“I don’t see how…”
“Ah,” Mr Park was now a hat trick winner for interruptions and took a moment to revel in that key victory. “You know our value. You know our strength. Next year is a highly significant one for us and should we be successful as we shall be, then we shall be able to invest further.”
“Further?” The Manager could not see how further investment would be forthcoming but was at least intrigued. He waited. Mr Park eventually realized that he was expected to respond so did, though wished he had been able to interrupt for number four.
“We have others interested who will come forward from all over the world to help a buddy out if asked, so to speak. Should they be in trouble. Which we are not but this brotherhood of which I do not speak, at least not aloud and certainly not in unwashed company, are able to plot their compass for our paths to cross and for there to be no nipple unsheathed so to speak, if you catch my meaning.”
The Manager was stumped. So, he tried to simplify.
“Can anyone in your club or even outside of it, explain how the club lost £11m, was needing £10m to see the season out, then Coronavirus hit and has deferred huge amounts in wages but can be linked with this £5m acquisition before you come in and see me?”
“Ah,” Mr Park had lost his mojo now and was too slow to interrupt. “That is indeed a very good question and one which we can answer simply. You see…”
“No.” Ah! The Manager was now at the game and interrupting making it 3-1. “I see a club that has had what we might call the rapid expansion period that ended with a European failure. It taxed us all before entering the White Period which promised much but delivered nothing. Then came the re-imagining with the Green Period which saw consistent climbing for a while until there was some strange fiscal issues under the King Dynasty that is apparently being stopped and Parked for just now.”
Mr Park laughed, thinking it was a joke. “Very droll, if I may say…”
“No.” 3-2. “From where I sit, you are going to need every penny you’ve got if you’re going to stop your rivals doing ten in a row. Paying out £5 Million for this Romanian acquisition this summer makes no sense to me. I’m not saying this is a bad acquisition — far from it. It’s clearly something that will cause interest everywhere, but is it really what’s going make the difference? I’m not so sure.”
“Ah,” Mr Park was now clearly on the back foot and struggling. He can’t now get a word in edgeways. “I think you are confused..”
“No, I am not.” 3-3 The Manager was on a roll. “For starters I’m not sure you even have that kind of money to spend. The sums don’t add up. As I said, you lost £11 Million in the last financial year and needed £10 Million just to see the season out. But let’s say, for argument’s sake, you do have that kind of cash to splash. Is the Romanian acquisition really the one you want to make? I think £5million could get you a lot more, if I am perfectly honest. As things stand you don’t actually have to sign anyone for months. There’s no urgency there. Is there?”
“Ah,” Mr Park waited and realised that there was enough of a gap now to speak. “I think we may be wasting our time here. You clearly have a view that is what might be called of another persuasion, a bias perhaps to the non right side of things and as such are not really grasping the enormity of it all.” He stood to leave looking directly at Mr Gerard. Mr Gerard was yet to speak.
“Well, if you feel there is little point…” the Manager hoped for the final word.
“Ah,” Mr Gerard interrupted in the closing minutes, in extra time added on for the time wasting of providing coffee – 4-3. In a pure Scouse accent he said, “But big Lorenzo says we can do it and if anyone knows it’s him. He’s boss.”
The Manager rose up and collected all the 30 years of experience of being in his place as part of the establishment that got through the crisis, took as much as it could out of Community Spirit and knew better than anyone that basket cases lead to bigger bonuses and responded, “Big Lorenzo? Why didn’t you say so! He IS the people to listen to.” He turned to Mr Park. “And how would you be wanting that £5 Million – used fivers?”
Whilst the author asserts his right to this as an almost original tale, any similarities to persons real or imagined are deliberate. However as none of the aforementioned characters a Mr Gerard, Mr Park or Mr Stewart have ever, as far as he is aware, met in a bank manager’s office to discuss a £5 Million loan, this is clearly fictional and never actual happened, though some of the words that appear have been attributed to one of their respective speakers.
The fact is that during the week Michael Stewart suggested that the acquisition of Ianis Hagi for £5 Million when the club had lost £11 Million and was deferring wages made little sense.
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