Often Partisan

Editorial: A Stabilising Process

The news of a group who are in serious talks with Birmingham City has been the big talking point this week – with record numbers of pageviews on this website alone showing just how much Blues fans are eager for this news.

While I’ve brought to people’s attention some of the controversy surrounding a particular member of the group I’ve not really talked about my own views and with this in mind I thought I would write this piece. I want to stress these views are mine and mine alone and I do not speak for (or purport to speak for) anyone else. I’m just a guy with a website, I’m not a fans spokesperson and I have no wish to be one.

As much as I don’t like the idea of someone in a responsible position within SMW being banned from being a director for offences of dishonesty – particularly as they involved a football club – I’ve only seen good stuff online about Jeremy Wray. Blues have long lacked a UK-based figurehead and with no disrespect to Peter Pannu, I would prefer a chairman with a lot more grounding within football. Football is a business like no other and I think it’s important to have a leader at St Andrew’s who understands the game fully and I believe Wray, a life-long West Ham fan, fits that bill. Articles like these from The Washbag, a Swindon Town blog , which was posted on SHA by Dave from the Blues Trust back up the notion I’ve seen elsewhere that Wray would be good for Blues.

Another conclusion I’ve rapidly come to is that our next owners probably won’t be with the club that long, due to the complicated nature of the sale process. It strikes me that the only people who will be willing to tie themselves to BIH – and they will be tied in with them for a period of around two years – would be a consortium who would look to invest money with the aim of making it back from the club being promoted. I see this as a “caretaker owner”, like a caretaker manager who looks after a team between people permanently in the role; this isn’t a slight at all – if anything I’d rather that a new owner was honest enough to say that they were coming in to put some money in to make the club a better prospect to sell on to someone who really will take it places. If SMW can come in and get us into the Premier League or close to it within two years before selling it on I’d snap their hands off in all honesty – it wouldn’t be immediate stability but it would be a stabilising process which would be good in the long term.

My sole concern is that they have the backing to do this; I would estimate that a minimum of £15million would need to be invested into the team right now to make it competitive for a playoff place – and I wouldn’t expect that to happen immediately as I think the team would need a complete overhaul. Hong Kong-based sources indicate that the backing for SMW isn’t from a “top tier” investment fund – partly I would imagine due to the difficulties Derek Peter has suffered – and I would be interested to know what SMW would be using as collateral for any investment as there isn’t anything to secure it on at St Andrew’s – even the stadium isn’t worth that much realistically. The definition of a consortium is a group of people looking to make an investment and people normally group together for investments like this because they don’t have enough money (or aren’t willing to risk enough money) to do it alone; we’ve seen first hand what happens when an owner runs out of cash or the wherewithal/will to spend it.

There seems to be some differences of opinion about what stage the bid is at; I’ve seen talk of exclusivity, of preferred bidders and due diligence from this end but in Hong Kong I’m not hearing the same noises – and with no announcement to the stock exchange about accepting a bid or an MOU with preferred bidders I have to remain sceptical that SMW are indeed preferred bidders; I know of at least two other groups (not Paladini before anyone says it) who have conducted due diligence at St Andrew’s and neither of them had preferred bidder status let alone bids accepted.

One thing is for certain and that there are going to be twists and turns yet. I hope that BIH can conclude a deal quickly to bring in some cash and allow the club to get on with the business of bringing in players and improving the side – the longer that is delayed, the harder this season is going to be.

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98 Responses to “Editorial: A Stabilising Process”

  • EddieBirmingham says:

    Delay No More – we need to get active in sorting Managers and players

    • beegeeblueboy says:

      Manager sorted. It’s Di Canio

      • Pete says:

        For God sake. Because Wray has had a club which managed DiCanio before it does not mean it will be him. It does not mean that they will sack Clark. STOP with people jumping 29 steps ahead without any proof or reasoning.

        As Dan has said we have not even had confirmation from BIH that these are the preferred bidders yet.

        • beegeeblueboy says:

          Oh dear Pete. Read the signs. “Paulo mate, this club is bereft of talent so you’ve got virtually a blank canvass to start with. We know how passionate fans are. Three home wins before October and we’ll both be heroes. Too irresistible to miss eh?”

          • weymouth bluenose says:

            everywhere dic anio has been there has been a wave of optimism,a feel good factor, then the rows and adversity kick in, last thing we need is more drama off the field,I would rather someone come in to steady the ship than rock a boat that’s already taken on water, I respect your hard work and info dan highly, I thought I did detect a degree of back tracking in your latest blog, but out of total respect I read it as a more measured response to potential new owners.

          • Pete says:

            I am not trying to be offensive, but you talk tripe. The signs are you essentially playing dot to dot and when there are not dots there just add them in anyway. I am guessing you are the ones who was saying last week we were getting a billionaire owner…. Just enough already with unfounded speculating and then passing it off as almost fact, with nothing whatsoever to support this. Then we wonder why people do not want to buy the club when some are slated for decisions they have not even made yet….

          • ian says:

            so bihl want to diversify into the energy markets, is my take on things.
            24 percent of 32 million isn’t going to buy much of an in road into the energy market,
            yet for that same money they intend to start to transform BIHL into a completely different entity.
            i honestly can’t fathom who would want to buy shares in BIHL.
            the only thing they own is us, and we are on the edge of the abyss.
            in my opinion bihl are nothing but a tick sucking us dry,
            now, last time i took my dog to the vet to remove a tick,
            i didn’t really care how the tick was going to diversify,
            i was just glad to get rid of the tick.
            if a new owner wants to get us back to health, then cash in that’s fine by me. to cash in they have to double our value.

            perhaps it has nothing to do with the stock exchange or due diligence, or fit and proper tests, perhaps they are waiting for a visiting order to see the puppet master.

          • mark says:

            24% is on offer nothing else mate…………and even that not sealed as of yet……..and nda has been broke that tops it all……wonder who going to sue who is the next chapter………..

        • mark says:

          agreed Pete i am of opinion there could be a backlash from BIH regarding them breaking the NDA, with it in the hands of lawyers time will tell………

      • Eric says:

        yes Wray no Di Canio. Nice positive article Dan.

  • Gary says:

    Doesn’t sound good at all OP you said you wasn’t over impressed and I agree with you mate about who could possibly be taking over before the media published it so I think you know more than most. While all this is dragging on blues are being left behind in the transfer market plus we don’t know what players will be left at the club even the manager has Clark gone into hiding by the way. The team we had last season was bad enough let’s face it Doncaster should have stayed up not us good job they had that game abandoned when they were wining. I think we will end up the same as Portsmouth I’m not looking forward to next season as much as I was I think and if Clark if he’s still manager come the start of the season has to slash his wage bill by half I think we are doomed to relegation.

    • beegeeblueboy says:

      The halving the wage bill is a rehash of last summer’s story. The new investors will have a say in the wage bill this summer. If they do decide on slashing it my ST money will stay in my pocket

      • Gary says:

        Hope your’e right beegeeblueboy but by the time this mess is sorted out if it ever will be I think we will be well into the new season and we won’t be able to bring anybody in just doesn’t look good at all in my opinion.

        • Chris says:

          can only agree, we should be signing players even on 5k per week in the next 3 weeks, but this seems to be putting everthing on hold, but the team can’t afford to stand still and miss out on bosman players ‘in the hope’ that a deal ‘may’ be struck.
          the window opens on July 1st but players / clubs can anounce deals from tomorrow with bosman signings, so we’ll see in the next week or two if the board are holding back or continuing business as usual.

        • beegeeblueboy says:

          With the current squad and assuming Zigic and Burke are gone too we must surely be relegation certainties

    • Richard Granfield says:

      Cheer up Gary it may never happen. As for Lee Clark going into hiding, could it be he is taking a well earned holiday?

  • Luke Bowen says:

    Thanks for the insights and opinions Dan – good stuff.

  • Raymondo says:

    I have the read the “Washbag” Swindon Town Blog and, it seems that everybody involved would have learned a lot from the experience that they can carry into BCFC involvement and in particular the day to day, hands on experience which I doubt if PP or CY ever had. These are people who I feel would communicate with the fans, not keep them at arms length. Let’s give them a chance, especially if their plan is to make the club an attractive prospect to more wealthy buyers eventually after gaining promotion. Football is a business after all, not a hobby. I

    • The Francis Fake says:

      I have no problem as a figurehead as I’m sure he would be a good communicator. He must have access to someone with sufficient dosh to take ever and put some money into the club, otherwise why bother. At Swindon he relied upon an investor who eventually pulled the plug which led to his own leaving at the club. However, I believe a Di Canio appointment would be a disaster and we would also become a laughing stock.

      • Luke Bowen says:

        You’ve got to hope and believe that too much water has gone under Di Canio’s bridge for Wray to even consider going down that route. Alienating the fans won’t be top of his list of priorities.

        • Pete says:

          As I have said before- why are people saying that Di Canio is an appointment in the offing. We have no idea whether they are a) preferred bidders, b) going to be successful, c) wanting to replace Clark and d) would want Di Canio….

          • Andy W says:

            The truth is, nothing has been decided yet. And I am still very wary of the HK reaction to this bidder going public. As Dan says he is hearing different things from over there, and given the past record of BIHL to people who go public before they’re ready, I think there may still be twists and turns to come yet. None of which bodes well for next season. Until I see anything in writing, I fear it will be more of the same and probably worse at least till January. I really hope not, and maybe next week announcements will be made and we may know more. But until then……….

  • Tony says:

    Jeremy Wray, seems a capable pair of hands to me,Swindon fans say a lot of positive things about him, ok he may be in it for the short term but if he can get us in a fit state to be sold on fair enough.

  • Gary says:

    Are these people that are supposedly coming in just going to give the current owners a big loan just to keep us going in the hope that we get promoted because it sounds like that to me. If so wouldn’t it have been better to go into administration that way I think more people would come in to buy us & we would probably get rid of the current owners once & for all.

    • mark says:

      if someone offers a carrot of a decent return and the proposals offered by BIH are acceptable to the agreed parties…..it was always going to be out of our hands…..again if this should fail there will be more companies prepared to have a fling imo….but it will be on BIH terms……..

  • Richard Granfield says:

    The almost inevitable appointment of Paolo Di Canio as manager if Wray takes over is not as toxic as some poster’s believe.
    He was successful at Swindon dealing with League 1/2 calibre players who respect his skills as a player and bought into his ideas as a manager.
    The problems seemingly manifested themselves when he tried the same ideas with seasoned Premier League players at Sunderland such as Phil Bardsley and John O’Shea.
    He reportedly renounced Fascism too at Sunderland and always claimed he wasn’t a Racist.

    • Luke Bowen says:

      He is not an appropriate candidate for any club, let alone a club from a City as culturally diverse as Birmingham.

      • Andy W says:

        I agree Luke. Whether we believe him or not or are even prepared to give him a chance (which personally I would refrain from), he carries too much negative baggage with him which I can only see adversely affecting the club. We need proper stability with people who can be trusted.

        • Bluenosesol says:

          He says he is a fascist – I believe him! Don’t touch him with a barge pole!!!

      • Tony says:

        Why should we consider that Luke?. diverse so what?.

        • Geoff S says:

          Are you on the wind-up or are you just a caricature of an ignoramus?

          • Tony says:

            Geffrey old bean I dont care about communities I care about Birmingham City, presumably you were against signing Bowyer one of our most influential players of the last 10 years?. As for Di canio I would not want him particularly I think he has stability issues, however a mans politics should not be taken into account

          • mark says:

            when bcfc do a lot for the communities this could have impact,… managers needs to be upstanding imo
            Clark has modeled our young players on good community practice….eg Mary hospice . children hospital obviously by the sounds of it this does not in to your sphere….

          • Tony says:

            Mark can I tell you something Our young players are poor, doubt if any will make a mark in the game sorry to disillusion you

          • mark says:

            i am sure nathan will disagree with there Tony……

          • Tony says:

            Incidentally where would you be without the word Caricature

    • Chris says:

      Sorry Richard but how was Di Canio successful?
      Yes he got them promoted from league two, but on their budget he should have.
      He built a decent league one team again on a massive budget, but couldn’t get them promoted and nearly bankrupted the club, along with Wray who alowed him to spend the owners money.
      Ask Paul Caddis if Di Canio is toxic or not.
      Di Canio fell out with captain Paul Caddis and publically humiliated him, fell out with cult hero & top goal scorer Kerrouche, Di Canio fell out with Wes Foderingham his star signing and Leon Clarke after a physical set to

      after a match.
      This guy threw his dolls out the pram when the club needed him most and he walked out on them when the owner had to sell their prize asset, Richie.
      How many times would he have walked out on Blues over the last three years with the talent we have seen sold?
      I actually like him in many ways, i just don’t want another Barry Fry type maverick, we need stability, to build the scout network and an astute coach, not a hot head.

      • Richard Granfield says:

        Di Canio was deemed successful enough at Swindon to get a Premier League appointment at Sunderland.

      • Tony says:

        Chris the problems with Di canio are borne out of frustration, he cant accept that the players he manages do not have the kind of god given talent as he had, that’s his big drawback

    • fingles says:

      He eventually fell out with many of the players at Swindon.He is unhinged, even more so than Clark. He would be a disaster.

      • mark says:

        it would a travesty and a disgrace if he was allow to step foot in stans as manager…in my opinion we are a family orientated club and diverse culturally……….if he struggling he should pop along to the dole office.

  • beegeeblueboy says:

    There’s no benefit to BIH in going into Administration

  • Chris W says:

    Interesting insight Dan, pointing out some valid points.
    Under Jeremy Wray Swindon had a figurehead who communicated with them and brought them success, along with some controversy. That success was expensive, they went into debt for around ten million pound, they had a transfer embargo slapped on them for transfer irregularities and the money backer forced to sell because of them.
    The fact that he spent the money will appeal to most fans but at what cost, Championship players cost more than league 2 players cost, if they are only using the club as a means to an end they are not wanting to plough anymore than is necessary.
    I agree with the need for BIHL to conclude the deal quickly, but it has to be the right one for BCFC and not just BIHL.
    In an ideal world, all parties would have the opportunity to complete any “due diligence” and “fit and proper” tests then if one pulls out or fails there would
    be continuity to carry on. As it is, should SWM pull out it will be back to square
    one.
    If this consortium is the best it makes you wonder who or how bad the others were.
    I think the main obstacle for most is the sale in tranches and SWM are probably the right type who will accept those conditions.
    KRO+DNM

    • StevieW says:

      Chris I think you will find that this consortium is the best because they are prepared to go with the BIHL business plan of an initial 24% stake as a minority holder until BIHL diversify. Better bids and better consortium’s as far as Blues are concerned may have been in the game but were not preferred because of their stance on the 24% bit. Time will tell though this could all fall through yet.

  • Oldbluenose says:

    Good synopsis Dan;, I wonder just how long this is going to take, So many factors are unanswered, such as H,K. still remaining quiet, — Therefor, we do not know what status they consider this consortium to be, ?. — Are any of the others still in the fray, ?.
    As the clock ticks by, The realistic scenario of re-building a squad seems unlikely, but if it is just a holding job, [ Not long term ], Then we should accept no real push next season, — Just solidarity for now, ??.

  • weymouth bluenose says:

    everywhere dic anio has been there has been a wave of optimism and a feel good factor, followed by rows and adversity, I,d rather someome come in to steady the ship than rock a boat that’s already taken on water,i read your blog and thought there was a little back tracking dan, but totally respect the hard work you do so see it as just a more measured response to what is happening, as for the bidders……, if I was out and there were 5 really ugly women………or did someone else say that recently! oh yes dic barton, no offence ladies

  • robbo1875 says:

    What about brian mcdermot he aint got a job ?????????

  • Art says:

    It’s Chris Houghton for me-with a bit of money he’d do a good job and get us out of this Division.

    • mark says:

      Art did he not run away jump ship mind must be playing tricks on me. But no thanks

      • Art says:

        Probably in the top three managers the club have had.

        Many supporters would welcome him back but a few won’t .

        • mark says:

          then when he failed…..better offer came…..was not interested at all with blues the last thing on his mind…..on top of that giving him the opportunity back to management…….you take your pick….

          • Small Heath Blue says:

            I think it’s the opposite, a few would welcome him back, many wouldn’t. He failed against an average Blackpool team in the play offs, then he jumped at the first opportunity, taking the coaching staff with him.

          • mark says:

            finally look where it got him lol

          • Tony says:

            Agree did not rate him at all average at best

    • RichardM says:

      Personally I wouldn’t welcome him back – used us to get back on the managerial ladder then dumped us after one season when a better offer came along. Was quite pleased to see it all blow up in his face at Norwich….

    • Richard Granfield says:

      If you check the records there has never been a Blues’ manager called Chris Houghton.
      After extensive research the nearest name I can come up with is Chris Hughton.

      • Art says:

        Sorry Richard and yes you are right!

        Still a very good manager and sorry to say there is very little loyalty in football -it all about getting the results and his record with an average squad IMO was good .He also added a few thousand on the gates and unlike the current manager was tactically aware.I also think he enjoyed his time at the club and can you really blame him for walking away from the current owners.?

        • Richard Granfield says:

          Hi Art, Don’t it a second thought it’s just me being pedantic with a touch of sarcasm!
          Chris Hughton was a good manager and the players, (and me for that matter) were disappointed when he left. Nobody begrudged him leaving for the Premier League.
          As for him returning to Blues. Why not?

  • chudlt says:

    If someone paid £6-£8 million for 24% of a company. Would they then be prepared to invest another £15 million on new players etc. That would mean an outlay of £21- £23 Million for a 24% share. I am struggling to understand why anyone would take that deal.

    • mark says:

      tbh 6-8 millions sounds about right for 24%……what ever they outlay surely BIH would have to match that with still holding the biggest percentage?? if they are outlaying 15 mils where that going to be accountable too ??

    • Alex T says:

      Surely it would be written into the contract that any investment would be redeemed in the purchase price of the remaining share which also will probably have a guaranteed price to ensure that their own investment in the team does not increase the value of the club further.

      All you people who think this can’t work, you do know that lawyers are quite clever, right?? And that lawyers and investment groups are rather adverse to exposing themselves to vague contracts? I think we should all at least give these guys the benefit of the doubt and assume they know what they are doing (unless any of the investors got rich through hairdressing, gambling or money laundering! !)

      • mark says:

        what if bih dont agree with their proposals that is why a statement on bcfc……….still loads of stuff to iron out, and probably very complex issues still ongoing…..

  • AussieBlue says:

    Dan, great piece but there is one worrying phrase you’ve dropped in there that, if you have any reasons why or further info, would be helpful. 4th para: “and they will be tied in with them for a period of around two years”….why is this so? 2 more years of majority BIHL ownership? An absolute nightmare.
    I am still completely baffled by why all the impetus seems to be in helping BIHL stay solvent, carrying on a business and listed on the HKSE. Helping Blues seems secondary. Or are the two so convolutedly intertwinned that they are inseperable?

  • mark says:

    sorry to say Daniel if Mr Wray were to succeed do you really think PP would step aside from his duel role??.. imo i believe this to be highly unlikely…

    • Alex T says:

      Well, that decision would be with Mr Wray when agreeing the sale. Do you really think bihl havea bargaining position? In essence, bihl will become silent partners because without that stipulation, they won’t get a sale

      • mark says:

        subjective view mate, of course they have bargaining powers, you would be foolish to think not….
        firstly we are unsure about NDA on how that might unhinge things between the parties.
        if i still had 75% of bcfc would you become a silent partner i doubt it…..

        • Alex T says:

          Depends on how much I needed the dough……

          • mark says:

            in my opinion know ones how desperate they, they could keep 10% along as it on HKSE, maybe daniel could inform us how much percentage is needed to stay on HKSE??

        • Tony says:

          Mark why are you the only one seemingly sympathetic to BIH Pannu ETC?

          • mark says:

            Why do you personally have a problem with my views,……joking
            i believe everyone entitled to their views or opinions, myself i always enjoyed a bit of banter.life too short …the place would not be colorful if we did not have characters we have on this blog……love him or loathe Mr carter top man, well maybe Daniel dont think so….sadly we dont appear to have staffsblue input anymore. We dont see behind the scenes at bih, Daniel opened a little bit of the can, yes we should be internally grateful to him for that….
            i just have my views and opinions likewise my opinions can be wrong like everyone else s. And i believe they became dreadfully unlucky when we got relegated, but i do hold the players responsible a lot of them were on extremely good money at the time…….may be others fans opinion differs….

          • Chris W says:

            My only complaint about the players who got us relegated is they all jumped ship, not the players fault I know.
            Any team that is relegated should keep the players until the first transfer window before allowing them to be sold, if they are sold then they can only be sold to a club in the division they are relegated to and only paid the maximum wage permitted for that league.
            We didn’t have a relegation clause hence we had to pay ziggy so much in wages.
            KRO+DNM

          • Tony says:

            Most of them had to be sold keep the dosh rolling in .

          • Chris W says:

            Only because we didn’t have a plan B, I don’t have a problem selling them, but thy should not be allowed to play in a division above that they are relegated to and they should only be paid a wage for that division.
            I think it is wrong that Foster, Ridgewell, Johnson etc all left blues and went back to the Premiership, that to me is unfair, they got us relegated yet didn’t lose out, if anything they benefited …
            KRO+DNM

          • Tony says:

            Can see your point there

          • Chris W says:

            Just my thoughts, why should the players get off lightly, usually a manager will be sacked, or given one shot at redeeming himself. I don’t think our manager was to blame, the players failed both him and us, the supporters.
            It would make the chances of an immediate return more realistic and make the players realise they cannot just walk away on a failure.
            KRO+DNM

          • mark says:

            this where maybe BIH fell down probably even they thought no chance of relegation hence no relegation clauses……far bigger teams than bcfc have fallen eg leed utd in complete dis-ray and not even got their pre-season sorted we have……

          • Chris W says:

            Never lose any sleep over Leeds Utd, now Portsmouth I feel sorry for, they have never recovered from their bad owners. They nearly went out of the league last season.
            KRO+DNM

          • fingles says:

            But the players were prepared to stay, as was TSM. It was the Board that demanded sales to keep BIHL afloat.So, the rug was taken from under TSM, and he was then approached by Learner, and decided to leave Blues.Maybe not the wisest move for him, but must have seemed like a lifeboat at the time.

          • Chris W says:

            I see your point, I have no objection to selling but why should they transfer back to premier clubs on premier wages. The F.A or F.L should have a clause that any player of a relegated club has to play in that league until the first transfer window and/or be paid no more than the maxim wage cap for that league for that season.
            Maybe then players would put more effort knowing that there is no gain or reward for relegation.
            KRO+DNM

          • fingles says:

            Agree with that, but I was just stating what I heard happened.

          • Chris W says:

            Probably true, BIHL nor CY had any relegation clauses in place and GSG didn’t bother as they probably knew they would be selling anyway.
            I just think it would benefit all relegated clubs, mind those with any acumen have provisions in place anyway. I believe a relegation clause is mandatory in every Arsenal contract
            KRO+DNM

  • Oldbluenose says:

    Mark;, BIH, Know they cannot support us financially So wish to divest themselves of us. They are seeking finance from our sale to invest in Oil, etc, so need both the money and be rid of the burden of our club since Carson Yueng, is no longer officially part of them, ?.
    So not sure they have that much clout really.

  • mark says:

    hey wonder what the chances of Jermaine Pennant coming back to the blues…..

  • Bluejarthur says:

    I would say who ever buys the 24% will be short term custodians. Stabilize the club until they have full control (2 years?) and then cash in. Onward selling is far easier if the shares are not quoted and privately owned.
    Like you Dan i don’t see this a bad thing. I for one will need some convincing (before renewing my ST) regarding transfer targets / funds available to attract the right kind of experience players we need to compliment our young talented players.


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