I’m no financial wizard, not some kind of rising star businessman, I’m just an ordinary bloke who wants to watch his favourite football club play football. Sometimes they actually play football that doesn’t make my eyes bleed. Now I’m not someone who moans (Well not too much anyway.) Not someone who whines and whinges. (Again, not too much.) But I am vain. Not with my physical appearance, those days are long gone and in all honesty, I don’t know why I even bothered when I was in the bloom of youth. I’m vain in the sense that I check the statistics on my blog. I get a kick out of seeing that absolutely anyone at all has read it, but I particularly enjoy seeing that people from other countries have read it. I am still waiting for someone from a different planet to read it, but I suspect I’ll be waiting for a long time for that to happen. I can sense you looking at your device wondering where I’m actually leading with this. The point is this, I’ve noticed I’ve had visitors (That’s what they call someone reading for the first time, not someone from outer space.) from China. I have no idea whether they are connected to the club or not, but Birmingham City is Chinese owned. The current lot aren’t even the first owners from China. It’s been well documented and publicised what happened to the first owner from there, so I’m not going to go over it again. The following period of Birmingham City’s checkered history, has been much more of a fog. I’m going to make my apologies first, get them out of the way. This is by no means racist, there’s no underlying racism whatsoever, I’m just a bloke who works in a factory and as such, will show a fair bit of clumsy ignorance. I will no doubt, get names wrong. I mean absolutely no offense with this. (Paul) Suen Cho Hung originally purchased the club. As he’s a record of buying ailing companies on the cheap, turning them round quickly and then selling them for a profit, I can only assume that because Blues were a listed company on the HKSE, the idea was to do the same with Blues. I’m not going to go into depth like Daniel Ivery, co-author of Hair cuts and League Cups would, and I’ve no idea of dates, but that idea vanished in a puff of smoke. Paul Suen isn’t by his own admission, a football fan. What he did, was find someone who was. I can’t remember who it was, but their record wasn’t exactly unblemished. Since then, a web has been weaved so well, that it would need a forensic analysist to decipher who has what, does what, and to what extent. The club is now valued at a horrendously huge amount, but it’s actually worth only a tiny fraction of it. The issuing of shares and the founding of new companies, has created a labyrinth of deceit. It’s an elaborate, complex and very clever thing to do. The factory worker in me, can only see a whole heap of dishonesty. There’s money there, but it’s the source that appears to be the problem. Wang Yaohui, or Mr King (To give him his alias.) Isn’t on the board of directors at Blues. That honour goes to Wenqing Zhao, Chun Kong Yiu, Gannan Zheng and Yoa Wang. They are all on other company boards with Mr King. From what I have come to believe, Mr King is a rich man, he’s also very dodgy. So dodgy in fact, that not only is he a wanted man in China, but he wouldn’t pass the EFLs ‘Fit and Proper’ test for club owners. Although inextricably linked to Blues, there’s nothing that binds him. One of the byproducts of this, is that the puppets that he has managed to manipulate into positions of importance, are just incompetent. Up until this summer Ren Xuandong was CEO of Blues. A man who appears to only listen to himself. I’m going to back track slightly. Gianfranco Zola and Harry Redknapp were both given unsustainable amounts of money to spend on transfers and wages. It led to Blues falling foul of the EFLs FFP rules. If you’re wondering what the Hell those abbreviations stand for, EFL is the English Football League, and FFP is Financial Fair Play. Right, back to what I was writing. Blues, and more importantly, Ren Xuandong, or just Ren Dong, were warned that they were extremely close to breaking the rules with FFP. Ren ignored them, and sanctioned the transfer of Kristian Pedersen. Veering off slightly, it’s why I’ve been overly harsh on the Dane. Value for money, he hasn’t been. Anyway, it led to a transfer embargo. To say we were hog tied, is an understatement. Blues led by the mismanagement of Ren Dong had got on the wrong side of the EFL, and I feel that extra scrutiny of the club was down to the arrogance displayed by the man. He continued on his self righteous journey so far that Blues were docked points because of breaching the rules again. If that wasn’t bad enough, his ineptitude has led to where we are now. When Ren Dong was shifted sidewards, I was a happy man. I wasn’t to know his legacy was to unfold at the start of a season that I was very much looking forward to. The news that structural engineering work desperately needed doing to the ground was concerning, but I had faith that it would be done long before the season started. After all, last season there wasn’t any crowds allowed, they could easily get on with it. It was announced that for the League Cup game against Colchester, only the Main stand and John Merrick would be open. Even then, I still had faith that the Kop and Tilton upper tiers would be ready for the first home game against Stoke City. That was before I went to the League Cup game. However hard I looked, I couldn’t see any evidence that the work had been done. That was Tuesday. The following day, and the bombshell was dropped. The work hadn’t been done, ticket sales suspended. Not only that, but non-season ticket holders who had bought a ticket for Stoke or Bournemouth, would have their ticket cancelled and reimbursed. If that wasn’t bad enough, they’d worked out that season tickets sold, exceeded capacity for home fans. We were then to all be entered into a ballot to determine who could attend the Stoke game, maintaining that those that missed out, would be guaranteed a ticket for Bournemouth. I found out about the ballot, as I was queuing up to clock out from work. I don’t mind saying that it took a lot of gloss off the new season, and being able to watch football again. The ironic thing, when I got home, the postman had delivered my season ticket. I now had the agonising wait to see if I had a ticket for Stoke. I had been informed that very day that I was to be back on night shift as of the following Monday. I was convinced that given my lack of good luck, I wouldn’t get Stoke, but would get Bournemouth, a game I now couldn’t go to. I was to be proved wrong, I did get a ticket for Stoke and I didn’t get one for Bournemouth. Thing is, I know a season ticket holder who hasn’t received a ticket for either game. This is where it really starts to get frustrating. There’s been several stories mixed in with the rumours. It’s hard to work out what to believe. Sometimes true stories get mixed up with reports of brain storming meetings. An ideal that is discussed but dismissed, can often be taken as it’s going to happen. With the uncertainty that is surrounding the work that needs doing and the fear and anxiety that comes with not knowing whether you’re going to get a ticket for the next home game, the rumours become horrible truths. A meeting was supposed have taken place to discuss the ‘ongoing’ work. The outcome, the money isn’t in place and that the work is going to take a lot longer than what was first muted. The most alarming point being that the work will take the whole season, the board is going to drip feed this information so not to incite the inevitable protests that would ensue. The plan would be to put all the season ticket holders in a ballot. Unlucky season ticket holders, would then be reimbursed with the money they shelled out for their season ticket in the first place. If this is the case, then it will lead to many season ticket holders never coming back. If this is going to happen and I myself am one of those that miss out, I would find myself doing an immense amount of soul searching as to whether I would walk away from the club I’ve supported for 4 decades, have invested a huge percentage of my money in and have an even bigger percentage of emotional attachment to. The thirst for information and latest news is ferocious right now, with all us Blues fans that attend games. Standing in queues for tickets for away games, I’ve heard several stories and several opinions. Everyone has suddenly become an expert in civil engineering. What it actually is, is a leap of faith. We as football fans, not just Blues, expect and demand our football clubs to be run properly. At so many clubs, far too many for it to be healthy, this isn’t the case.
I fully believe that David Gold, David Sullivan and Karen Brady, cut corners when the stands that only 26 years later, are not only deemed unsuitable, but unstable, were commissioned and constructed. It seems obvious to me that pressure was put on the construction firm to keep costs down and meet deadlines. If this is the case, then charges of negligence should be brought against them. Of course, I have no proof, it’s just a theory based on stories about that particular regime. Stories that are backed up by several witnesses. There is no smoke without fire. 25 years later, Ren Dong is informed after compulsory annual structural inspections, that the stands need serious repairs. He ignores this and instead pursues the construction firm with the idea of sueing them for damages and forcing them to pay for the repairs. Apparently, the pursuit lasted that long, that it’s the reason why he was shoved sidewards. Again, if that is the case, then he’s obviously been wasting time and money that should’ve been going to where it was needed. How is this incompetence not being punished? The current incumbent, Gannan Zheng, or Edward Zheng Gannan, to give him his alias is known for ‘offering out’ a supporter on social media, when he was merely a director. Surely this isn’t the way someone in his position, should conduct himself. The lack of professionalism shown by the board of directors is shocking. Not to put a too fine a point on it, the club has degenerated into a joke, a very sad, sick joke. I don’t believe for a minute that the owners of Blues know what they’re doing, I don’t believe for a second that they aren’t lying to us. We deserve clarity, honesty, commitment and above all direction. Back to the visitor thing, if this blog is read by people in China either connected with the club or indeed, the Chinese government, either step up to the mark or sell the club because the club badly needs investigation and prosecution. Something is rotten and it’s not just the stands.