Often Partisan

Postcards from HK: Strict Rules and Enforcing Them

As the last day of the month and the BIH board meeting approach I’ve had a few questions about why the Stock Exchange are so laissez-faire in their approach to Birmingham International Holdings and their problems. I can’t promise that I have the answers but the last few days I’ve learned a lot about the way HK and China are run and it goes some way to explaining the situation.

I went across the border on Friday afternoon to Guangzhou, in mainland China as part of the promotional work I’m doing for the book (more on that later). I’ve only ever briefly been into China before and so I was looking forward to seeing how different it was to HK. As you can imagine you have to jump through various bureaucratic hoops to get into the country and internet access was much more restricted than in Hong Kong.

One thing that struck me in China was how lax things seemed to be; despite there being some incredibly strict rules, nothing ever seems to be enforced. For example, it’s hard to get a driving licence in China yet everyone drove like they’d never seen a car before and I’m not embellishing matters when I say I literally could have died twice in a taxi. Despite the harsh rules and the harsher penalties for breaking them people in China seemingly did what they wanted regardless, with no fear of being punished for it.

What’s this got to do with Blues I hear you say? Well, those same harsh rules and lack of enforcement is a similar story in HK. The HKSE have some very severe rules that they can use to punish companies that don’t do things in the right manner yet the number of convictions is incredibly low. As Carson found to his own personal cost, the only time those rules are enforced is when the someone important is annoyed enough to make things happen – and when that happens, the person caught up in the web is in massive trouble. As much as people want the HKSE to throw the book at BIH for their audit issues or to throw them off the main board due to the way the share price has declined it won’t happen until someone in power is peeved enough to do something.

Meanwhile, there are pro-democracy protests here in HK and that too could have a minor impact on BCFC in that it may be difficult for ordinary workers to go about their everyday business. If that is the case then it logically follows that the scheduled board meeting for Tuesday could feasibly be postponed – which would delay the accounts (no change there I hear you say) but more importantly could hold up boardroom changes which could impact decisions made at club level – especially with regards to the continued employment of Lee Clark.

It’s my understanding that Clark is very much under pressure but sources here indicate that until various power issues are sorted at board level nothing will change at management level back in Birmingham. Although I’ve not seen Blues play against Fulham I know that was a huge game for Blues to lose from a purely points perspective and that will not have gone down well with directors at the club.

It’ll become more apparent what the situation on the ground is today as time goes on; I’m intrigued to see if the stock exchange opens as normal (the HKSE is based in Exchange Square, which is in the middle of the protests in Central) – hopefully life will continue regardless and we’ll get some resolution for Blues tomorrow. I’m still planning to host my webinar live online at 11am tomorrow morning UK time and hopefully I’ll have some more news to share then.

For those of you who are interested in the book, I’ve got some pics from the launches here and I’ll be taking some at the lunch I’m speaking at today, at the Foreign Correspondents Club (provided it’s not disrupted by the protests).

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75 Responses to “Postcards from HK: Strict Rules and Enforcing Them”

  • Letsby Avenue says:

    Good Luck…fella :-)

    I expect you have already set out a publicity strategy in the UK for “H&LC”

    …but I just wanted to make one suggestion.
    If you are circulating journalists and writers with the book, or preview samples, prior to it’s UK launch.

    DON’T MISS Henry Winter.{Telegraph}

    A 100% straight arrow, gigantic Twitter following and possibly the most respected sports journo in the UK.
    He does do ‘plugs’ on his twitter feed, and if you send him a complimentary, you may get an interview in the ink media as well.

    Good Luck…safe journey home.

  • RonJ says:

    Thank you for your ever interesting blog. I look forward to reading it as it is informative and not like many blogs ill thought out. The change in ownership has been urgent for some time now but little could fans do about it. What has now been added to as extremely urgent is the change of manager. He is clueless on tactics and any changes he makes during the game almost always end in defeat. Fulham should been beaten . The players were capable but tactics and motivation was totally missing.

  • Big Al says:

    Well done. Lots of chatter about Clark over the weekend. The $64 billion dollar question is could we employ someone who is a) available without compensation (so not Rowett) and b) would likely take the job (probably not Hughton) who would do a better job.

    Personally I think one home win in 2014 could be surpassed by a number of unemployed managers out there.

  • Chris W says:

    Interesting insight to how things work in Hong Kong.
    On the managerial front I think LC has lost it completely now, he can’t stop the downward spiral and he should be put on gardening leave and let the players sort themselves out.
    LC’s backroom staff are obviously not helping and should also be relieved of all duties.
    No one at the club seems motivated, I’m sure that, if asked, TF would step into the breach as a caretaker until a long term solution can be found.
    If the meeting takes place tomorrow, and they don’t usually need much excuse to postpone, so I’m not holding much hope, the first thing after accepting PP’s resignation should be the sacking of LC.
    The long term outlook has to be financially more viable than the current situation, a fresh face should galvanise the players and get them working together as a team.
    KRO+DNM

    • brett james says:

      Im sorry but these issues with Lee Clark don’t stem from this or previous season – the team inherited from Chris Hughton that finished 5th albeit a few players leaving, does not warrant a 5-0 drubbing from Barnsley at home and numerous sunday morning standard performances throughout that season – take away Marlon Kings goals that season and we would have been flirting like last year. The club is flat all around and the fans havnt even got the energy to even demand a resignation or sacking from the clown! No excuses from off the field problems he has fallen out with all and sundry and his signings have been woeful – square pegs in round holes and basic shape and set pieces are non existent. Let him go now and start a fresh with or without new owners!

  • DoctorD says:

    Dan – if having someone peeved is what causes the rules in HK to actually get enforced, WHO might be peeved enough to force BIHL to do something? Who do we need to target. Sadly, I doubt the league position of Blues is of that much interest out there.

  • Oldbluenose says:

    in light of your reply to Dr D, we sadly, fully understand it is the hkse-tie-up that paralyses our plight.

    it may be to no avail, but hopefully IF Wednesdays meeting does go ahead, It may offer a chink of light, at last, ??.

  • dave mann says:

    its never been near to a sale in all this time weve been lead down the gutter of deppression, on the field is as predictable as off the field, looks good to start with then we just throw it all away and end up with nothing…….these hard times at blues are bringing everyone who loves the club down and these owners and this manager will still be here this time next year if weve still got a football team to watch in league one!!!! KRO.

    • StaffsBlue says:

      If BIHL are still here next season, then the majority of fans won’t fall for another season ticket scam like they did this year. Where will that leave BIHL and the club?

      • Art Watson says:

        If only this could be true-I thought this would be the case this season but sadly it wasn’t and the funds generated from the ticket sale has helped to give these morons at least another season to milk the club.I have long supported a total boycott which in my opinion would have forced an early sale-sadly this hasn’t happened and look where we are now……completely in the mire.Getting rid of Clark is only part of the solution -we desperately need investment under new owners.

  • Tony says:

    Dave is right nothing will change until forced to do so. the owners will hang on until the last possible second and so will Clark.
    For two years almost I have been calling for him to go, the man has no pride in a professional capacity or as a man, how he can walk around in public mystifies me.He has been called unstable, over emotional and a Fool, well he is all of that and more.
    There are however people to blame almost as much as he, the long suffering supporters have sat back and insisted on giving him chance after chance after chance.
    Well he has had more chances than any manager I have ever heard about and look where is has led us, its time to stop being so polite with him, give him all the abuse and vitriol its possible to muster and if he starts crying and texting his missus stamp on his bloody phone.
    People need to understand emotion is all he has, all the crap jumping into the crowd at Bolton then sat on the bench in tears cuts no ice with me I dont like emotion in a football manager, I didnt like it when TF Cried on the pitch whilst consoling Andy Johnson, the only difference is TF is a living god to me, Clark is beyond contempt.

  • dave mann says:

    it frightens me to think what the club will be like this time next year, and tonys right about the emotional side of lee clark, it dont wash with me anymore because weve not gone anywhere over the last three seasons, ok we have sold a lot of our better players but saturday summed it up for me……these players are not fit enough for 90 mins and the manager tacticly was again found out with subs that dont make sense and completley ruin a winning position yet again…..mo excuses anymore because ive had it up to here with excuse after excuse…..something gotta give or its more doom and gloom to come!!! KRO.

    • Chris W says:

      Never thought I’d hear you say that Dave, but you are right, his substitutions seem to make matters worse. How many times have we been in winning positions for him to change the style or formation.
      He was the same at Huddersfield, yes he went 40+ games undefeated, but he actually drew more games from winning positions.
      He now holds another record because I can’t find another manager of Blues who managed to go 24 home league games, or a complete league season winning only one league game.
      He has had more chances than he has deserved, it is obvious who was running the team when Terry Mc and Derek Fazackerley left because things have certainly got progressively worse.
      If he truly cares about BCFC and the supporters then he should resign.
      At the next home game his position should be made certain that he is no longer wanted as our teams manager, if the board wont take action then the supporters should make it very clear in no uncertain terms, unfortunately we have two away games to endure first.
      KRO+DNM

      • DoctorD says:

        Last 15 league games this season and last:
        Played 15
        Won 1
        Drawn 5
        Lost 9
        Goals for 14
        Goals against 30
        Popints 8

        Continue that for the rest of the season and we’ll have 24 points come next May.

        • Art Watson says:

          At last someone is looking at his appalling record and as you rightly point out it’s getting worse.

          • Tmsblues says:

            Oh be fair we did get a win in the most recent 6 months ! What a clown this man is . He can grab defeat from the jaws of victory better than any manager in my Blues supporting memory !

      • StaffsBlue says:

        One point about the substitutions. Yes, some of his choices leave a lot to be desired… but lately, he’s had to make forced errors early in games, which leave more limited options later on. Both Gray’s substitutions have been forced, so was Robbo’s. Davis should be able to complete 90 minutes by now, although, he does work his nuts off when he’s on the pitch. But, as I said, forced substitutions leave you with less options later and probably mean your plans have to be altered.

        • Chris W says:

          Not counting the forced changes Staffs, you cannot foresee an injury. The change for the sake of change is what gets me.
          He usually makes a change on the hour, regardless, that is usually when the system goes belly up.
          I also think some of the players are picked out of favouritism rather than form. But we don’t have a lot of options in that department.
          All the players should be able to play 90 minutes, these are professionals after all. I was still managing 3 games a weekend until I was 40 and I played Wednesday nights once a month in an over 35 league.
          KRO+DNM

          • mark says:

            not being dis respectable Thomas and caddis were substitutes after fulham scored a second goal in the 71 mins coming on respectfully in 72 min due to gray injury, and further one for spector some time after the 90 min…….. gray had a marvelous shot which their goal keeper made a excellent save…..before the fulham goal

          • Chris W says:

            Saturday was an exception, though he still took Duffy off at half-time, which I found a little baffling, and bought Shea on, who apart from that one shot on goal was pretty influential.
            He has been more consistent this season with both selections and formations so why haven’t things worked for us?
            He still uses the same old clichés and blames the players. The players need to look at themselves admittedly, is that they are just not good enough or are they finding LC’s game plans too complicated?
            I just think that LC has taken the club as far as he can and the players have stopped buying into his ethos and the only way forward is for a change.
            Tny Pullis took over at Crystal Palace when they looked doomed in November and turned a demoralised group of players who had only won one game into a winning team. I’m not saying we bring in Tony Pullis, we couldn’t afford him anyway, but how many times have we read a new manager comes in and freshens things up, how many times have we been on the receiving end?
            KRO+DNM

          • mark says:

            *fulham second goal

          • StaffsBlue says:

            I have to say, you’re correct about certain players being picked regardless. I think a lot of the time, he’s picking certain players hoping that, as the senior pros, they won’t let him down. Well, I hope he’s realised now, that he’s pinning his hopes on the wrong people. He gets paid to pick the team obviously, but to be honest, there are certain players who are regulars, that I wouldn’t even have in my 18.

          • Chris W says:

            Have to agree Staffs, Packwood and Hancox may not be the tallest but they give 110% and served us well last season. Randolph does not deserve to be No.1, though Doyle doesn’t exactly ooze confidence I feel he has earned the chance to prove himself, and Robbo, imo, has had his day.
            Many criticised Novak but I can’t wait to see him back, again he gives 110% and offers another dimension.
            KRO+DNM

  • gerard says:

    ok also note yesterday on Bet Victor in an hour Gary Rowetts odds went from 20-1 to 16/1 then 12/1 I tried to have £30 at 16/1 -but was limited to £15 @ 12/1-obviously prior to that significant monies on Rowett, usually from inside info, especially to change the odds on a relatively small betting market that much, whilst on line -no smoke without fire, bookies rarely get it wrong my inside info says t that Rowett as next manager sooner than later is more than rumour we shall see as I work on fact not fiction.
    also only rumour Pullis odds dropped slightly so I had a fiver on him @ 25/1
    anyone know anymore?

  • dave mann says:

    if we loose these next two away games were be in the bottom three and that should be enough for the powers that be to do something positive for once and relieve lee clark of his duties……I will not expect him to be manager come Bolton at home on the 18th October if we loose at millwall and Charlton this week…..but to be fair to clark the idiots that will sack him should get rid of themselves also but that aint happening so one of them as to go NOW. KRO.

    • Alan Moore says:

      But who exactly are “the powers that be?” Who has the authority to hire or fire at the moment. Doubt if any of the BIHL Board even know where Birmingham is let alone the club’s dismal record of late!

      • almajir says:

        Ask yourself which bihl director is based in brum at the moment.

        • Chris W says:

          The question is “What or How Much” power he actually has, does everything still rely on PP?
          After 30th will he still have a say on BCFC matters or will it just be BIHL?
          KRO+DNM

      • dave mann says:

        exactly Alan , who can sack him and do they know anything about the on pitch problems when they’ve got enough off field problems to concern them….a total shambles and embarrassment to our great club that brings me to boiling point every time I go down to st Andrews…..not so bad away because I enjoy away days and the support embarases the home crowds support but not happy at all at the moment…far from it!!! KRO.

        • Tmsblues says:

          Suspect we will get some points away and Clark will avoid the chop but the Bihl guys do know about one thing. If we head on towards league one they will make decisions or face a further substantial drop in their investment and they can kiss goodbye to any thoughts of £32m sell outs. They also need to understand that the revenue comes from home games at the turnstiles and the in stadium secondary spends and that these will dwindle to well below budget forecast levels if the disgraceful home form continues. Success starts at home with a new manager replacing the clown and eventually new owners encouraged by fresh impetus on the pitch.

  • jazzzy786 says:

    My goldfish could manage better than Lee Clark. If that octopus from the world cup is still available get him in.

  • gerard says:

    noted Dan re manager some you lose especially lose if a bluenose-by saying I do, will the status quo be maintained on manager front or definite change sooner than later?

  • andy says:

    I have backed Lee Clark to the hilt, only because of the dire restrictions he has been forced to work under, maybe one day he will benefit and be a successful manager somewhere but it has all gone stale now and the teams poor start to this season has possibly sealed his fate.

    • StaffsBlue says:

      What narks me most, is that, despite all the doom and gloom about the players, I still believe we’re extremely close to being a decent team. We’ve more than competed with all but Middlesboro’ and Wigan this season… and if we’d scored the goals our play has merited, we’d be looking at, at least another 9 or 10 points. Maybe a change of manager will do the trick and instill that extra 20% to go on and put games to bed.

  • martin says:

    I read you blog with interest and fully understand the meaning. I have to ask why has the publisity about this situation not been explioted more by interested parties. Why have we had no national outcry (all be it being encouraged by potential owners) by press in the UK. For the HK stock exchange to have a smear ref lack of enforced rules, would possibly impact on future investors ????? This might cause an important person to push some buttons and help sell the club.
    If any potential buyers read this, push the buttons and get political, we even have MPs who can raise such things you know. I you want something bad enough you will find a way ????

    Just a thought

  • mark says:

    well how unlucky can we be should be top of the table by now lol

    Pitiful that jokers at the blues give out dog abuse towards a manager who is working his bollox off for the club……..The hounds have started to bark again lol….

    How many times must i keep saying the same thing week week out……players earn a good salary. playing for the pride of our city. They all need to step up to the plate.

    Turning up for 45 mins thinking the job done its a ninety min game.
    Yes i hold the players accountable because at the end of the day they are the ones that Clark given the pleasure to grace our stans turf. Once those players hit the field they are as one, each one of them is accountable for keeping their high standards. learn to be winners…

    • Shirley Blue says:

      You are always very quick to praise Clark on the very rare occasion we get three points but it’s the players fault when results are bad. You can’t have it both ways. Like Clark you lack consistency and credibilty.

  • lazwal says:

    Another debacle on Saturday with only one half of a game played to its full potential and then bang. As much as I feel for Lee Clark it is not doing his health or ours any good. I do think that he is now void of ideas. I was looking on a Fulham supporters website days before their game with us and they do a tactical rundown of the opposition, here is just a fraction of the information on blues,
    Weaknesses

    So, first of all, Birmingham are not one of the strongest teams in the league. After just avoiding relegation, and with continuing financial worries, they are surely one of the favorites to get relegated again.

    Stats wise, they have a few numbers which suggest poor technical ability. Firstly, they have the 4th worst average possession in the league. They also have the worst pass accuracy in the league. This would predict the team prefers long ball tactics, a point previously discussed, but they also have the worst arial duel win percentage (suggesting they’re also not great at dealing with long balls in general).

    Whilst these stats all suggest a lack of quality in the Birmingham team.
    I think they did a good breakdown of our team,hence the result!

    • mark says:

      blues 48% Fulham 52% of possession very little in that stat….we simple threw a winning margin away only the players can ask this when leaving the field of play at the end of the game. The same at Norwich, the same against Ipswich dont you just love it when gets repetitive……

      • Chris W says:

        Well there is one thing mark, at least we are being consistent. Something we were crying out for LC to be most of last season. :-)
        KRO+DNM

        • StaffsBlue says:

          Last season, we screamed for 4-4-2. He’s played it in most games this season.. and it’s not brought us wins. Also, they screamed at him not to tinker with the team. Well, so far this season, in the 9 league games, Randolph and Edgar are ever presents, Grounds, Cotterill, Davis and Donaldson have only missed one game each. Caddis has 7 games to his name… Spector, Hall and Thomas have played 6 games. Not as much tinkering this season as you would think.

          • mark says:

            on the money hey staffs now they want him to start tinkering…….unfortunately spector looks to be out for a few weeks…..maybe packwood looks a obvious choice for his berth??…..

          • Chris W says:

            In that case you have to look at tactics and the manager. He rarely instils confidence with his interviews and is constantly blaming the players, collectively not individually, in his post match interviews, what happens on a Sunday debrief we can only guess.
            KRO+DNM

  • Stevie W says:

    Reading some of the posts that are around at the moment helps me to understand those poor souls who stayed on the Titanic in total belief that it would not sink.

    Total blind faith and belief, failing totally to see the reality and consequences before it is to late.

    Change is needed now because if it doesn’t change this ship is on its way down.

  • Tony says:

    For all of those who say Clark has been hamstrung because of his budget, the Ipswich side that played Saturday cost how much to assemble?? the answer £10.000 and that was on one player the rest were freebies and out of contract players.
    This was broadcast on the radio this afternoon I cant verify it no doubt some of the statisticians will be able to .

  • Chas says:

    Tony, it isn’t what you have got , it is how you use it , or miss-use it in our case.

  • Tony says:

    Exactly Chris

  • Tony says:

    Sorry Chas

  • If god forbid we we did go down to league one this season the crowds would plummet to under 10,000
    probably and could this squad even hold their own in league one. Simple fact is : we will not score enough goals this season. KRO.

    • StaffsBlue says:

      And that’s where our main problem lies. It doesn’t matter who takes over as manager, if he can’t get our strikers to start putting away the chances they get, nothing will change. Thomas and Donaldson should have 7 or 8 goals each, at least. Only they will know why they haven’t.

      • steve says:

        Denny Johnstone scored tonight.If Donaldson and Thomas can’t do it,give him a go. If the first team travelled today,that means Johnstone isn’t in the squad.

        • StaffsBlue says:

          I totally agree. If the main two strikers can’t do the job properly, give someone else a chance. Unfortunately, Johnstone is the only other option at the moment… trouble is, he’s only just come back from a month out and, other than tonight, has no game time under his belt.

  • I agree Staffsblue. He will be rusty,he will have to find his feet,so really at the moment as far as goals are concerned we,re back to square one. Matt Green shouldn’t be too far away now but he too will need time to find his feet and time already is running out. I couldn’t believe myself saying this so early in the season,but I percieved Saturdays game against Fulham a Six pointer. ! And with what’s going on at board level,these are very worrying times indeed.

    • StaffsBlue says:

      I think the next 2 games, before the international break, are crucial. 6 points and things won’t look quite so bad. Even 4 points will possibly take us out of the bottom 6. Lose them and we really will be in the brown stuff.

      • Chris W says:

        On current form do you honestly believe we will get 6 points from Millwall and Charlton, that would virtually double our tally so far.
        I’d like to share your optimism but find it very difficult, to be honest I wonder where our next points are coming from, next home game is Bolton who must be rubbing their hands after what we did against Fulham.
        KRO+DNM

  • gerard says:

    just looked at bookies odds Gary Rowett down to 5/1 from 20/1 in a day-yet Dan says it is not him,?that represents a lot of wise money lost? and bookies being very cautious perhaps because of heavy bets and inside knowledge? but the most worrying thing is the new favourite OWEN COYLE at 4/1- from nowhere? please NO – Dan kindly advise it is not him,?look at his record , sacked 3 times, think what a negative impact it would with the club and hardly inspire or endear us at all just cause more loss of support and further fractiousness -Dan ?
    Remember the bookies always win in the end-the punter may take the odd one but you can never beat the bookie over time-Dan , anyone know the real truth our are the bookies on the right road?

    • StaffsBlue says:

      There won’t be many takers I know, but I still think Gary Megson could do a good job for us. He’s good at coming into a club and stabilising things and organising a team. There would be no compensation to pay and he wouldn’t cost a fortune.

      Coyle wouldn’t fill me with any confidence I’m afraid… and Rowett (although an interesting choice) is totally untried at this level and represents a huge risk.

  • andy says:

    simple question dan,
    what can fans, or potential buyers do to hurt or force BIHL out?

  • Art Watson says:

    Dan,

    Do you know the time of today’s board meeting?


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