You know I really am a hard man to please sometimes, in fact I’d go a little further than that, I can be a proper moaning faced twat….at least when it comes to money.
I often wonder how a nation so stereotyped as ‘tight’, ‘shrewd’, ‘miserly’ and ‘demanding’, can in football terms at least…be so gullible, so weak and so easily manipulated.
Every other nation marvelled at our negotiation skills, many of them complimented our enterprise and creativity, often shaking their heads in a manner meaning so much as, “Hats off to you guys…wish we’d thought of that!”. They marvelled at how cunningly we traded our bricks and mortar.
Yes, our property market!
Most nations had either a ‘fixed price’, a ‘guide price’ or a ‘offers in the region of’, method of marketing houses for sale, each one as obviously suggestive as the next in terms of the price you and any other bidders must match to ‘successfully’ buy up that property.
Say I had a generously proportioned Surrey barn-conversion for sale, I may require to sell for £550,000, so I’d sensibly market it at around £600,000 and invite bids which strongly hint at the ball-part figure at which the serious bidders should enter.
In Edinburgh however, I had a stunning sandstone 19th century bungalow with wonderfully preserved period features. Say I need, or desired, to sell this property for £550,000 also…what could I do?
I could of course go fixed price and ask for £550,000, you know and give it the hard sell…no margin for error exists.
In Scotland, a land where seeking value for money if it were a sport, would be utterly dominated by our canny nation at international level, we came up with the mystery element that really spiced up our property market.
Yeah we did!…we invented a system, which in truth we probably had to in order to have our tight nation part with a full asking price…we went head over heels for our ‘offers over’ system.
In Surrey, several serious bidders can read my intentions like a book…the three bids all come in around £550,000. Job done, mission accomplished I hear you say.
Well consider that in the capital city of our tight nation, I marketed my bungalow for offers over £550,000…in Edinburgh I sold my pad for £600,000.
I robbed nobody, I deceived no-one, I merely left it to each individual to play a blind hand…to bid whatever value to them the home equated. The lucky family gets the house of their dreams and I feel like Donald ‘bloody’ Trump…happy days!
Imagine if all shopping worked that way…imagine if you went to your local Sainsbury’s and bought a box of Bulmers cider, 12 bottles of the wonderful Red Berry and Lime variety. Imagine, it was mid-summer, it’s 34 degrees celsius outside, sun splitting the trees and you were off to a barbecue (*lots of imagination required admittedly*), your super thirsty and only Bulmers Red Berry and Lime will do….one box adorns the last coveted space on the shelf…you spot a rival lurking nearby, he spots you…you both look directly into one another’s eyes with a stern and meaningful purpose, you size up the opposition and forcibly ask for the assistants attentions.
He feels threatened but strangely excited by the alpha male bidding war which is set to break out, suddenly other late arrivals enter the aisle and you hear them murmur that nowhere else has any Bulmers left, this is the last box in town…the realisation dawn on you both…serious money may have to part from your wallet. It’s a tense, fraught, nervous occassion…you forgot to bring your wallet…it didn’t fit well in your shorts pockets.
Like a supreme poker player however, you, without even a glance inside your pockets, know your hand well. You know that two ten pound notes and two-pound coins are present therein.
You watch the rival closely, you see him gulp, you notice fresh beads of sweat run profusely down his forehead, you see his hands twitching nervously around his pockets.
The assistant who just sold the second but last box for £10, looks like a man who now wishes his work to be commission related pay instead of minimum waged.
You are handed a pen and a piece of paper, your rival is also furnished with such items, the sealed bids process is set to begin.
A couple of the late arrivals join the alpha male, testosterone fuelled madness despite their girlfriends disapproval and obvious concern, you even over-hear one such girlfriend to utter “Please?…don’t do it Gary, it’s not worth it. Someones gonna get hurt!’.
You know that to be the truth but you’re an adrenaline junkie and well you tried that very drink just last week in the pub and you loved it…£3.50 a pop it cost you then, whatever happens today, you and your wallet won’t feel as stung as had just 7 days before hand. You feel strangely comforted at the thought.
£20.00…that’s your limit, you want to keep £2.00 for the train fare up to your mates gaff.
You and all the other lesser scented stags, scribble your bids down, fold the paper over and sign the back-end of it.
You notice reluctance on some of the others faces, their baulking at either their stupidity or their to lack of a Switch card.
The assistant, separates the bids into two distinct piles on the almost entirely empty shelving.
He reads three names out, anxiously those men step forward…”Your outta the running boys, be gone with you!” he states a loud.
There now remains only you and your main rival, someone is going home emptied handed…on the other hand, to the victor the spoils!
“The winning bid submitted, for this, the final box of Red Berry and Lime ‘Bulmers’ cider, is…£45. Our congratulations here at Sainsbury’s goes to…” you hear your heart beat so loudly that it sounds like it has relocated to inside your left ear lobe. You feel dizzy, punch drunk and instead of Red Berry and Lime…it, you sense, is only going to be the bitter taste of defeat that will flavour your mouth tonight. Gutted!!
The other bidder merrily waltzes down the aisle carrying his over priced cider and whistling gleefully as he does so…”Arsehole!”, you proclaim under your own breath.
As you turn away, kicking wildly at the discarded cardboard boxes in the steel cage at the top of the aisle….pain registers on your senses, accompanied by the familiar noise of bottles rattling together.
Surely not…surely these hidden bottles, secreted under the discarded packaging of todays best sellers will turn out to be Barcardi Breezers or WKD or something equally as un-appealing?!
You do however, through desperation as much as anything, peel back the discarded packaging, much like a kid does his wrapping paper at Christmas.
“You beauty!!”…a misplaced, a forgotten, a lonely and an unaccounted for box of Bulmers Red Berry and Lime, stares back at you. 12 bottles of heaven-sent, fruit flavoured goodness awaits you…your luck has suddenly changed.
So much so that you, first smile and let out a little chuckle, then almost instinctively…you scan the aisle. Nobody else is around, the rivals have long since left the store crushed and cider-less, all except that one rival who as you approach the counter is merrily and blissfully unaware, exchanging five £10 notes with the cashier.
You enter the adjacent till and catch his eye, he first smiles and winks arrogantly towards you.
Then as it dawns on him that you to have a box of cider in your possession, his face takes on an altogether less contented appearance, his self-assurance and his beaming smile are replaced by the look of utter dismay and self loathing.
The cashier asks you “How much would you like to pay today, sir?”, in her usual pleasant and softly spoken manner.
“Erm….£1.00 I think would do nicely!”, you retort in a bold and assured manner.
You wink as you casually stroll away from the checkout, making sure that your rival clearly observes your gesture.
Triumphantly, you board the train en-route to a barbecue that is now more appealing than ever.
The moral of the story, in an open market one can influence the value of a product, by inviting bids from all comers, in those days of peak trading fortunes can be made and lost. When however the market is stagnant and only one bidder is present, value for money is more likely of the purchaser than of the seller, commodities, supply and demand, however you term it…sometimes the theatre of a bidding war, or even of hard-nosed negotiations can push the values up, other days the trick is just to shift the stock at all.
That’s why tonight, I am very disappointed, despite a bid which in truth is a fairly decent one having been received for a player I’d recommended us to sell before any of our other ‘star’ performers.
You see, the transfer window is not yet close enough to closing time, many twists and turns in the transfer market could yet drive up the available cash and the desperation of a particular club, to buy a particular player.
Ki Sung Yueng, was apparently attracting the interest of many clubs, most of which had yet to show their hand. Celtic could and in my mind should have used that default position, a position of strength, to push up the value of the player beyond what we would commonly have before agreed to be fair, or to represent ‘decent value’.
It seems to me, utterly typical of our push-over status in world football that we sell players for the first ‘decent’ bid that we receive from a cash rich source of potential trade.
We, in Scottish football are mapped out by the vultures who hover not so far away, as the easy pickings, as the hassle free meal ticket and the cheap corner store of utter convienence…we are a one stop shop for bargain hunters and we always will be, whilst we fail to bargain deals north of their inherent value to ourselves, to our own clubs and to our game in general, I mean.
It’s not just Ki Sung Yueng, no it’s the SKY tv contract and the marketing structures of our game in general, we are lazy and clueless sellers. We are the ‘Looky-Looky’ men, who start the bidding under value and who hope that the tourist will out of the goodness of their hearts, up the offer to a fair price for our fake designer sunglasses.
We are devoid of basic business skills, the art of negotiating and of not blinking first but in blinking last. We are a shoddy bunch of rag-tag dealers who ask what people would like to pay instead of first dictating the ball-part at which bids are invited.
It’s not often that Sainsbury’s would ever sell 12 bottles of Bulmers for either £45.00 or indeed at £1.00, that’s a given…what is not in doubt however, is that if Sainsbury’s were to sell a box at any particular rate, they do so knowing full well how much the open market value may be for them and a decent profit they will always make.
We in Scottish football still seem unable to turn down the first real bidder and to construct a proper philosophy, a tangible tactic to maximise transfer sales and to sell in line with our competitors marketing policies. Take French, Dutch, Portuguese, Russian, Mexican, Brazilian and even lower English league clubs for example…a;; of whom force the giants of the English Premier League, Serie A, La Liga and Bundesliga to part with cash well in excess of the value of return that we do.
While however we market ourselves at charity shop prices, we can hardly complain that we do not have massive corporate clout…we continue in my mind, to sell ourselves short in Scottish football.
Or maybe I’m just too damn tight…what says you?!