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Carson crisis leaves Blues adrift

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Matt Slater | 17:16 UK time, Thursday, 30 June 2011

Carson Yeung finally made good on his promise to make Birmingham City news in China on Thursday.

Sporting a club blazer, the Hong Kong-based entrepreneur strode into a room full of important people and delivered a performance guaranteed to ensure front-page exposure across the former British colony's news stands.

Sadly, this is the type of coverage only Aston Villa fans would wish upon the Blues, because Yeung was up before the beak on money-laundering charges: five of them, to be precise.

It should go without saying, of course, that the 51-year-old is innocent until proven otherwise but the no-smoke-without-fire risk to his reputation could not have come at a worse time for the Midlands club.

With the season little more than five weeks away, Birmingham City should be concentrating on rebuilding their squad, bedding in a new management team and reassuring supporters that May's relegation was just a temporary setback. But Yeung's spot of local bother practically ensures the club will spend the rest of the summer convincing everybody they are not in freefall.

What a difference four months make. Back then, the Blues were luxuriating in the warm glow of a Wembley win - a surprise Carling Cup victory over Arsenal. That triumph, sealed on Yeung's birthday, earned City their first major trophy for half a century and a place in this season's Europa League.

Having finished ninth in the Premier League a year before, this looked like a club on the verge of a significant shift in status. Sport can be very cruel sometimes.

Birmingham City president Carson Yeung has been charged with money laundering.

Birmingham president Carson Yeung on his way to court in Hong Kong. Photo: Reuters

One week later, Yeung was forced to admit to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange that Birmingham International Holdings Ltd (BIHL), City's parent company, was £28m in the red. This warning came only months after the club's accounts had revealed a £10m+ deficit in their annual spending. And this was before they were relegated.

Concerned fans and troublesome journalists were assured Yeung had a plan: the former hairdresser turned business tycoon would juggle some assets and inject a bit of working capital into the club, and a £25m share offering in Hong Kong would do the rest.

But even in a growing market, a slumping team is a tough sale. BIHL's share price started to mirror City's league form and no takers were found for the most important chunk of those shares. The sale was postponed and then quietly forgotten about.

Not that anybody was asking anymore, there were far more exciting things for Blues watchers to get exercised about, namely the defection of manager Alex McLeish to fierce rivals Villa and the corporate mud-slinging that followed.

Throughout this period, nothing was heard from Yeung himself. Requests for interviews were declined (politely, it must be said) and the club's increasingly shrill statements were channelled through acting chairman Peter Pannu and the Birmingham City website.

The prompt appointment of Chris Hughton to replace McLeish was a rare moment of clarity but the number of first-team regulars leaving St Andrew's was starting to make his job look difficult even before news arrived that his boss was "assisting police in a criminal investigation".

Details of that assistance, and the subsequent charges, remain sketchy, so it would be rash of me to rush to any kind of judgement, no matter how hypothetical. But come on, admit it, you want me to be rash, so I will.

There are two obvious questions that leap out when you start to play the "what if" game: first, what would a conviction mean for Yeung under English football's infamous "fit and proper person test" (FPPT), and second, is there any danger of City being prevented from taking up their Europa League place?

The first question is relatively easy to answer: a conviction for an offence such as money-laundering would force Yeung to give up his position as club president and leave the board. British company law is pretty clear on this and football's "Owners and Directors Test", a beefed-up version of the much-maligned FPPT, insists upon it.

But matters get more complicated when we consider what might happen to his controlling interest in BIHL.

Football's rules talk about owners with holdings of 30% and above: Yeung has never personally owned more than 29.9% of Birmingham City and his current stake is considerably less than that. So there is no suggestion that he would be compelled by the Football League to sell his shares.

But what if the Hong Kong authorities are right about Yeung's tax affairs between 2001 and 2007 and they decide to seize assets? Could China plc end up owning a stake in Birmingham City? Crazy, right...but then who picked up the pieces at Manchester City after Thaksin Shinawatra was forced into his Dubai exile?

The issue of City's Europa League place is no less fraught with uncertainties. The key question here is not Yeung's legal status but Birmingham City's ability to convince the football authorities they remain a going concern.

The authorities in this regard are the Football Association and the Premier League - it is their responsibility to grant licences to the clubs who qualify for European competition on behalf of Uefa, European football's governing body.

Despite some speculation to the contrary, the Blues gained their Uefa licence in May and that, as far as things stand, is enough to get them to the starting line. That could, however, change quite quickly if Yeung's difficulties lead to a reassessment of City's financial prospects. Suffice it to say, all parties are watching this space very closely.

And that really is all that can be safely said by anybody until Yeung returns to court on 11 August. In the meantime, it must be stressed that he is guilty of nothing, as his lawyer and the club's official statement have pointed out.

But nobody can pretend this is good news for the club, staff or supporters. The Blues are news in China now but it is doing them no favours at all.

As well as my blogs, you can follow me when I'm out and about at http://twitter.com/bbc_matt

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    If you have followed Birmingham for as long as I have, nothing surprises you.

    But even I have to scratch my head with this one. Just when I thought it couldnt get any worse, `Ginger Judas` up sticks to that lot in Aston, a mass exodus of players and relegation.

    Then `Dr Evil` gets locked up!

    I think I will start fishing or playing darts. I predict a few years in the wilderness, if we are lucky!.

    It could be worse.....couldnt it?

  • Comment number 2.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 3.

    As soon as Blues went down this year i thought that it's gonna be a heavy for us to get out of.

    Hughton is a good sound manager, and give us some hope.

    But would it mean something bad for Blues, look what happened to Man City under similar circumstances. I dont like our present board to be honest, and maybe it will force a sale and hopefully someone will do better.

    But at least we signed Rooney :) so not all is lost.

  • Comment number 4.

    Is anyone in the least bit surprised?

    Everyone knew something was amiss when he turned up with that massive fur coat.

  • Comment number 5.

    Something is very wrong at Birmingham. After relegation Mcleish said one thing - he had a good contract and was staying. The week before he resigned two players were signed (obviously not by Mcleish). The we week after he went another was signed. It wasn't anyone from the footballing side of the business was responsible. Players are leaving they are being replaced by players who are on a fraction of the salaries. There are rumours about the debt - the lowest I've heard is £20 million. We don't actually know who owns BIHL - Yeung owns a sizeable minority but not the rest. The phrase 'Disaster waiting to Happen' comes to mind.

  • Comment number 6.

    And who does these Fit and Proper Person tests?

    Helen Keller?

  • Comment number 7.

    CoalitionOfTheWilting ---- in Small Heaths case a panel from the holte end :-)

  • Comment number 8.

    They need to start folding up clubs. Harsh, and the biggest losers are those that care most (fans).

    The whole Pompey debacle where they go bust, write off debt to the tax man and local suppliers who can ill afford to just bounce the invoice and then see them playing in the 2nd highest league in the land is wrong. Plain wrong.

    Football businesses have led a charmed life and maybe that's why leech rich men come out to play. It needs to stop. Soon.

  • Comment number 9.

    It's worth remembering that he is innocent until proven guilty

    Just because he's a Chinese businessman does not mean he is automatically a crook

    http://outspokenrabbit.blogspot.com/

  • Comment number 10.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 11.

    #5,

    Do you actually know what you are talking about? At all?

    The BCFC board have already announced that players are only signed after being given written off permission from the manager. Marlon King & Chris Burke were signed off and agreed by Alex McLeish. Both were brought in before his resignation.

    Morgaro Gomis was signed off by McLeish, who then resigned. However, the player in his interview on bcfc.com states that even though McLeish wanted him and had departed, he still wanted to join the club and to prove himself in the English Championship. Do you really think Peter Pannu and Carson Young would know anything about a Dundee United central midfielder?

    The only other player we have brought in is Adam Rooney who has been signed off by Chris Hughton. Rooney is someone who Hughton has admired whilst being out of the game.

    You then go onto say "Players are leaving they are being replaced by players who are on a fraction of the salaries". Although this statement is correct, your point is nonsense of the highest order. We have just been relegated, this brings a massive drop in turnover/profits and if we remain with players on Premiership wages, we will suffer massive losses. It makes financial sense to replace high earners leaving for big sums with low earners on free transfers.

    It's worth reminding you Birmingham City Football Club has zilch to do with this case and that the club are financially sound and remain running. We are nowhere near a Portsmouth as our players are on nowhere near the wages Pompey players were on and all our players had relegation written into their contracts - except Craig Gardner whose £20,000 a week has been lifted from the wage bill with £6m added to the coffers.

  • Comment number 12.

    Just wonder what you have to do to fail a 'fit & proper test' with the Premier League.

    Portsmouth's situation, Hicks & Gillett, Dr Thaksin Shinawatra and this (which has had media rumblings since day one).

    Scudamore seems obsessed with keeping the Premier League as the richest in the game but is is fast approaching Serie A as the most morally bankrupt.

    Shame that due to all of the Sky money etc they have created a league in which only Man Utd or sugar daddy billionaires can compete. Throw in the UEFA Financial rules and we are back to a one horse race.

  • Comment number 13.

    Well here we are all then all GLOOM & DOOM, it doesnt take long does it something goes wrong & everyone, Management, Players & supporters are all put in a box & posted to some distant outpost for 'Losers' only.
    Well I dont subscribe to that, admitted finances are very important especially in football , but one man does not a team make. Those all working at BCFC want appreciation for their efforts, The players need encouragement the staff need encouragement, & the TRUE supporters are there in numbers to provide it. So lets heve some positives, Carling Cup Winners 2010/11, New manager Chris Hughton, some clubs would give their High teeth to have him , I wouldnt swap him for 70% of the managers in the Premiership, and finally there is still a very good core of players still at the club from last season + some really good signings so far. Come on you Blues show these lilly livered doom mongers what you are made of, Championship Winners 2011/12 in waiting

  • Comment number 14.

    @gaztrotter - what a silly comment.

  • Comment number 15.

    I remember only too well, that when this happened to my beloved club, the particularly unfortunate Portsmouth, that the Brum fans gave us all a very hard time. We were " a disgusting club, who bought a cup (something which is a stupid claim - what do Man U - Barca etc do every year - the only difference is there owners are not knee deep in criminal activity) and that we had cheated them out of a place in the prem. Well now the shoes on the other foot, despite the temptation to belittle them in the same way we suffered I will resist.
    What is saddest about this whole thing is it shows that nothing has changed, despite the terrible mess portsmouth were left in. You did not need to be a genius to see that Sacha Gaydamack was not FAP (fit and proper) - his dad was a convicted arms dealer, angolagate, if your sat in the upper echelons of football power, these things cant be missed. Just like what a coincidence that the guy who has robbed loads of money from our club just happened to be owed a load of money by arcadi Gaydamack - (Chainrai) who mysteriously turns up after sachas dad goes on the run internationally and sells kaboul, begovic and then puts into admin.
    The only thing I can say - is that if your not in the premier league - nobody gives a rats ass. As long as the disgrace doesn't happen right in the public eye, they will quite happily sweep it under the carpet and ignore what happened - sadly for Brum, all the signs are the same, over investment too quickly in players, written off against the club rather than the "wealthy" owner, surprise, suprise - wealthy businessmen are writing off there illegal gains using a football club as cover, dont worry we are assured, lessons have been learnt. Oh, but hang on, some russians have taken over down a Fratton Park, and we're buying players again!

  • Comment number 16.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 17.

    just to add, we were always asked as fans, why didn't you protest. without the benefit of hindsight these things are just so easy to miss with the PR machine behind the million dollar men

  • Comment number 18.

    gaztrotter, the stupidity of your comment should be obvious to everyone, the only people who suffer from points deduction are the fans, as for folding the business - there are so many other people connected to football clubs, literally 100's of business will go out of business because of monies owed - it will have an impact on the whole of Birmingham. I didn't think school holidays were out but let me spell it out for you, PENALTIES ONLY EFFECT THE FANS AND PEOPLE LEFT ONCE THE CROOKS HAVE DONE A RUNNER WITH THE CASH !

  • Comment number 19.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 20.

    Gaztrotter: You comments are bang on the money. We all know the fans suffer when points are deducted but then they are the same fans that enjoyed the benefits of the dodgy dealing in the first place. Would Portsmouth have won the FA Cup if they had been run in a responsible manner? No, they wouldn't. The same question needs to asked of Small Heath and the Carling Cup.

    If penalties were not levied after the crooks had left, the crooks would just sell the Club on to their mates, retain ownership through some offshore holding company and avoid the penalties. It would be a license to crookedness.

  • Comment number 21.

    Ok, what on earth was wrong with my comment? (number 19).

    It was factual and was not abusive or at all attacking anyone! It was a level headed comment and I am baffled as to why it has been removed.

    Anyone at the bbc have an answer as to how it broke any rules?

  • Comment number 22.

    Bergers left foot, you seem very level headed unlike lots of other Portsmouth fans but for one small point. Southampton fans saw through the many "owners" of PFC long before any PFC fans did. A Southampton fan living in Dubai even found out that one owner didn't even exist long before the FL etc did.

  • Comment number 23.

    Tommo1948, in an almost identical way, fans of Villa and Wolves in particular have 'seen through' the owners of Birmingham almost from the moment that Carson Yeung made his first attempts to take over, and have been met largely by aggression or derision from Birmingham supporters, who mostly seemed to be delighted to be shot of Sullivan and Gold and to believe the promises of millions and the change to be 'big' in China...

    ...with a few notable exceptions, of course. Some have been wary from the start - but most have just enjoyed the benefits and abused those who have been concerned. It's hard to feel much sympathy for those kinds of fans.

  • Comment number 24.

    In response to Ade: It is such a shame for a great club, with such a great and successful history. Mind you, I think with Peter Pan there things will be alright, he seems a real honest and professional type of character don't you think?

    And yes, things can and will get much worse; with all of this negative publicity now, who is going to want to come to the 'mighty' Birmingham City?! It seems that it is a breeding place for crooks and criminals - hence the signing of Marlon King, Craig Thomson will be next.

    Oh well...

  • Comment number 25.

    Another failure for the "Fit and Proper Person" act.

    Has anyone ever seen the criteria needed for this thing??

    Is it :

    1. Will you give us a bung yes/no?

    If yes, then you are a "Fit and Proper Person"



    Is there any more to it than that???




  • Comment number 26.

    I am an Arsenal fan, so naturally cant really say I have a soft spot for Birgh. (Wembley still haunts me!!), but for much of the season they seemed to be doing the business, as illustrated at the CC final, did what needed to be done on the pitch. I think its not really the club that needs to be penalized. The lust for the promised quick success that may (and usually does not for mid-tier clubs) come from new and foreign owners is dangerous. Looking at what's been happening at this and other clubs actually gives me some comfort at the way Arsenal is run as a business. Forget the subtleties of ownership in this case, directly or indirectly Yeung owns the club, and his fall/arrest etc will be disaster. Clubs need to start learning the art of self-finance, boards diversity, ownership distribution and stop dependence on benefactor owners. Man City fans are riding high today, but consider what will happen to their fortunes if the Sheikh decides, for whatever reason, to pass it along, or some misfortune occurs etc etc.....You have to be a top 3 club with trophies and masses of revenues to pull that off (eg. Man U), otherwise your doomed.

  • Comment number 27.

    Ban foreign ownership in British football. On top of that, we need more stringent checks carried out on potential owners. Its real simple. Hence, we stop the footballing disasters that have occured at Portsmouth, Liverpool, West Ham, Plymouth, Notts County et al.

  • Comment number 28.

    Can't understand why Birmingham are be compared with Pompey. Blues bought the carling cup, what with possibly the worst signings ever as a Prem team? Larsen apparently was on about £8000 a week, and not so many players had massive wages.

    I think Birmingham is a much bigger club than pompey and so we won't have the same problems as them.

    Yeung is under investigation with things not related to Bcfc, and maybe its to calm the nerves but as far as we know Bcfc is not under threat.

    Anyone that wishes any big club to fold should be ashamed, as that means loss of revenue and jobs for the city.

    So who ever thinks like this should climb into their dark hole and stay there.

  • Comment number 29.

    If you check out Matt's previous blogs then you'll notice that he has a knack for writing damning blogs on the Blues.

    Most people commenting on this blog, with their negative perspective of the Blues appear completely misinformed as to Birmingham's financial state of affairs (why don't you check our website so you can enlighten yourselves).

    This is a complete waste of a blog.

  • Comment number 30.

    Shadow, I would want ANY club to go bust... and I agree that the parallels with Pompey aren't that great - but the ownership parallels are, from the sagas surrounding the takeover and the money used for it, to the dubious nature of the various people involved - not just Yeung by Polly-Ann.

    I hope you don't have the same problems as them - and that you extricate yourselves from whatever problems you DO have as soon as possible - but can you acknowledge that a significant proportion of Blues fans have been arrogant and blasé about the problems for a long time? Wolves fans have been shouted down and abused when questioning what was happening - or casting even slight doubts on the probity of Yeung et al....

  • Comment number 31.

    Dohhh.... I meant I WOULDN'T want any club to go bust!!!

  • Comment number 32.

    BCFC are in the championship now. What used to be 'irrevelevantly' small sums such as £10m in the Premier League suddenly threaten financial viability.

    You might as well call in Peter Risdale for advice as soon as the club in difficulty starts to be referred to as a 'big club'.....as others have mentioned, Leeds, Pompey, Man City in the past.

    You have to feel sorry for Chris Hughton, a good manager who keeps getting 'difficult' owners.

    ...then again, a reflection of his judgement?

  • Comment number 33.

    A good try but this blog doesn't tell us anything we don't know and implies that Yeung is dodgy and going to be sent down. He has not been found guilty of anything by the way and players were always going to be sold this summer regardless. Yeung's charges relate to a period when he was not in charge at Blues and it has to be remembered that McLeish did the dirty, walked on his contract and Villa owe £5.4 million in compensation.

  • Comment number 34.

    Well this is england. everything is for sale and to anyone. we won't ask questions. its starting to look like Mike Ashley is the best owner in the league! Why can't we have a test for ownership like they have in the US. I guess because then it might away money and need that money! Germany and the US protect their interests and their national game. We simply don't. Feel sorry for Chris Hughton here. He never gets a break.

  • Comment number 35.

    As a Villa fan I should take great pleasure in the possible ultimate downfall of our local rivals but I take none. Forget the financial implications and look at who is running the club, Mr Pannu who from this moment forward should reprint his business cards to say Pannu the clown, it has a ring to it doesn't it? As for BIHL don't just read what the website says, go and have a look at the company accounts, it looks decidedly shaky. Bad for football bad for my city. Here's hoping he's found not guilty and then sells, quickly.

  • Comment number 36.

    Nice one JohnnyZulu - it's worth remembering that Yeung has been found guilty of precisely nothing.

    As for Blues' relegation, the injury to Scott Dann was an absolute sickener I thought - no coincidence that they never looked anything like as secure afterwards. I'd still expect them, with a good manager now at the helm, to be up there competing for a return to the Premier League next spring.

    http://outspokenrabbit.blogspot.com/

  • Comment number 37.

    Bet the PL are relieved that Brum got relegated.

    "Fit for purpose" anyone ?

  • Comment number 38.

    if Birmingham City are £25mil in the red where did all that money go?

  • Comment number 39.

    Worrying times for BCFC. I said before that it would be interesting to see who they keep, who they sell and who they buy as a barometer of how determined they are to come back up at the first attempt.

    Craig Gardiner is a BCFC fan and was one of their best players last season. He's described his move to Sunderland as a no-brainer?

    I like Hughton and would be delighted to see BCFC make a decent fist of it BUT this development surely wont help when it comes to recruiting players. I have a really bad feeling for them.

  • Comment number 40.

    First there was a character named Sinawatra, now there is Yeung. The difference is only in the names. Any due diligence or fit and proper test should have revealed that the wealth generation/accumulation history of both men is brief and fleeting.

    Consequently any dealings with both should be viewed as extremely brief. When LFC under the two clowns (Hicks and Gillet) flirted with Far East ownership of my dear club I feared the worst. Luckily LFC was spared any blushes, and as BCFC are yet to learn at a great cost that a flaming fire burns brightly, but very briefly!

  • Comment number 41.

    A lot of people seem to be talking about the mythological fit and proper persons test. I imagine it looks something like this.

    1. Do you promise to fleece your clubs fans (customers), Increase ticket prices and quietly filter money out of the game?

    2. Do you agree to sell your soul to RM and Sky?

    3. Have you ever been involved in illegal and/or immoral activity?

    4. Do you have a history and/or intention of asset stripping and bankrupting companies?

    5. Do you promise to collaborate with all activities to further the 'brand', and rip-off the 'customers'?

    If the answer to all of the above is yes, then you are a 'fit and proper person' and we welcome you to the Sky Premier League. You should fit in very nicely here.

  • Comment number 42.

    No the issue isnt for Birmingham, this is a governance issue for the PL. How many more clubs have to have this happen to them before something is done by the PL. Like the banks the PL is the worst regulated body in this country. Portsmouth, Man utd, liverpool, man City (whose ex owner is now in a Thai jail) and now Birmingham. What "fit and proper" tests are the PL carrying out I wonder?

  • Comment number 43.

    @Honeybunny You obviously know nothing about the Far East. The whole region is a hotbed of corruption and cronyism. The HK Police were known to be be bent 60 years ago and nothing has since changed. The Thai Police were reckoned to be the biggest crime syndicate in the Orient by the CIA. Check out The Philippines, Indonesia even Malaysia and you won't find many pair of clean hands. I am surprised that Yeung has been charged with anything at all.

  • Comment number 44.

    @ Jin Hacker
    You obviously know nothing about the modern Hong Kong. Yes, 60 years ago the HK police were known to be bent (and guess which country was in charged then) but this has been cleaned up so well in the last 20 years. Even the tiniest indication of corrupt activity is now being flagged up and many has been arrested (or in the words of Carson - assisting the HK police).
    And the time frame of the said corrupt activity has to be question as HK police are known for its swift action to corruption (now a days - and not 60 yrs ago), I would be extremely surprise if this has nothing to do with my belove club.

  • Comment number 45.

    so happy to see Birmingham in this sorry state. i heard that Yeung spent days fixated to this video before his arrest. coincedence?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9pED7rh-H7g

  • Comment number 46.

    Jin Hacker - the whole world, not just the "Far East", is full of corruption and cronyism. I'm afraid some of the statements on this subject are motivated by xenophobic prejudice. Actually, at least one Far Eastern country, Singapore, is acknowledged as being one of the less corrupt nations in the world. As an area, the Far East is probably no more corrupt than Eastern Europe, Southern Europe, the Middle East, Latin America etc. And anyone who thinks that corruption and cronyism do not exist in Britain, the USA, Australia etc., is a fool.
    The idea that banning foreign ownership will make things clean in British football is absurd. Just look at the recent history of Doncaster Rovers and Wrexham, to name but two, to see how corrupt British owners have ruined football clubs.

  • Comment number 47.

    I should emphasise that when talking about Doncaster Rovers and Wrexham I am NOT referring to the present owners of the club. In the case of Rovers I am referring to what happened in the '90s.

  • Comment number 48.

    Afternoon all, thanks for reading/commenting. Here are some replies:

    valedictory (2) - Been hearing worrying things about Port Vale for last month or two - the Football League is very concerned. I hope things are resolved there quickly.

    shadow warrior (3) - You're right, Hughton is a good manager and he could be the ideal man for the situation you're in now. He did a superb job getting Newcastle out of the Ch'ship at first time of asking and he has experience of working with a, erm, slightly dysfunctional board.

    Simon Richards (5) - Yes, I too am concerned about BIHL, yet another English football club owner registered in a secretive off-shore location. Cayman, BVI, Nevis...there's just no transparency.

    ComeEnglandAway (8) - I'd never wish liquidation on any club as it really is the fans who tend to suffer most and there is always considerable collateral damage to local businesses and other innocent parties. The real trick is to prevent things from ever getting to these crisis points.

  • Comment number 49.

    HoneyBunny2008 (9) - Yep, I make that same point twice and link to his/the club's denials.

    gaztrotter (10) - You can't dock the club 20pts now, they haven't done anything wrong! As Uefa pointed out in the statement it issued y'day, these allegations relate to a time before Yeung, who is not the outright owner, was even involved in the club.

    stuartparnaby'smicrowave (11) - I agree with your comments about the good sense of reducing the wage bill (although other clubs in BCFC's position have used the parachute payments to keep the squad together in a bid to bounce straight back...a risky move) but I'm not so sure about your comment that the club's finances are sound. The club's own accounts will tell you that things are far from sound. OK, the overall debt isn't disastrous and there is no suggestion for the moment that it cannot meet its liabilities (so is still solvent), but I wouldn't call the deficits of the last two years, wage/turnover ratio, transfer spending, director's loans etc "sound".

  • Comment number 50.

    Emirates are prepared to offer Mr Yeung a first class ticket back to London in exchange for the Carling Cup.

  • Comment number 51.

    sirhellsbells (12) - There's one thing worth noting about the FAPPT, Yeung's purchase of BCFC was the last deal to go through before the PL brought in the tougher Owners and Directors Test. Nobody is saying Yeung wouldn't have passed the new test but it has been suggested to me that it's more stringent requirements might have encouraged a more robust financial plan.

    Terry Kendall (13) - Fair points, well made.

    Bergers Left Foot (15) - Having followed the Pompey debacle closely from Gaydamak to Chainrai, you have my sympathy. But I don't think BCFC are in quite the same the hole yet.

    coolblue3000 (21) - Sorry, I have no idea why it was deleted or even what you wrote. Were you rude to somebody? Or perhaps libel someone? The moderation on these blogs is down by a third party and they have to be very careful about what we let through. If you libel somebody, we get in trouble.

  • Comment number 52.

    Kit (29) - "A knack for writing damning blogs about the Blues"?!? This is the 2nd blog I've written about BCFC, the first being one last month when I wrote that of the three relegated teams, Birmingham City faced the biggest problems. If only all my predictions were that good. As for your comment about looking at the official site for "enlightenment" re the club's finances....words fail me. Check out the last set of accounts for BCFC. It will cost you a pound from Companies House but the enlightenment will be worth it.

  • Comment number 53.

    Sadly for Carson Yeung, while rich and powerful, he is not in a position of absolute power and has to answer to far higher powers. He will not, therefore, be able to have such matters dismissed by having others fall on their swords (with full pension rights), or conducting the political ambush of an opponent. Not that Mr Yeung would ever think of doing so.

    In recent times, it has been shown that many aspects of the finances in and around football are clearly not cricket. It is therefore gratifying to know that those at the very top of football have the qualities to ensure that the finances of football will be run according to the standards they set.

    Football is therefore safe from those who are really only in it for the money and power, isn't it?

  • Comment number 54.

    @CoalitionOfTheWilting

    And who does these Fit and Proper Person tests?

    Helen Keller?

    Bernie Madoff I would say. The only good news (although not if you're a football fan) is that unlike most of the world corruption is drawn to sport in the UK like a magnet and not in the wider body politic. of course, I may be wrong....

  • Comment number 55.

    How come the premier league/FA's "right and proper" character credentials didn't stop his ownership in the first place.........there's been so much in the news about his character before he got involved with the club. Beggars belief.

  • Comment number 56.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 57.

    With the benefit of hindsight, I'd say that Alex McLeish showed remarkable foresight.

  • Comment number 58.

    It certainly puts Alex's decision in a different context doesn't it?

    My hunch is we're reaching saturation point on the foreign owners front anyway - only so many clubs can make the Champions League and it's difficult to see how someone could arrive from the back of the queue...

    http://outspokenrabbit.blogspot.com/

  • Comment number 59.

    #49 Matt Slater

    Thanks for replying Matt. I do have to disagree with you though.

    Yes, the last two years have been not so great for the finances. However you need to take into account our poor attendances due to the abysmal football we have been playing and the fact Alex McLeish has brought in "experienced" players on huge wages that have been released - Lee Bowyer, Kevin Phillips, Martin Jiranek.

    James McFadden £5.5m, what's happening with him? Free transfer no doubt.
    Michel £3m, never seen him.
    Marcus Bent £1m plus ridiculous wages on a 3 year deal. Released.

    Added to the permanent dealings we have big money loans that haven't been used - Hleb, Martins, Derbyshire, Bentley, Quincy Owusu-Abeyie, Sinclair.

    Over the course of the next year our balance from merchandise, ticket sales, player wages and transfer dealings will be of marked improvement.

    Then you have the current squad, which can be looked at in two ways.

    1. There is easily £20m to be made up with player sales. Gardner has already shaved £6m off our debt. Then you have Dann, Johnson, Foster and even Jerome and Ridgewell are being spoken about for half decent money. If we do sell, I have full confidence in Chris Hughton attracting quality cheaper players at the club to see us promoted.

    2. Those players all stay and we are back in the big time no issues. That's no disrespect to the Championship - at present we easily have a good enough squad to see us over the line, and the best man in charge to do it.

    All of the above is based on if's, and big IF's at that. However the idea of seeing us enter a crisis is also founded on big IF's and therefore, as a Birmingham fan, I have no reason to panic. I just find news such as this to be disappointing.

  • Comment number 60.

    Not really surprising, based on the assorted characters that have been welcomed into British chairmanship - let's not forget Hearts - since the turn of the centry.
    As an Everton fan, as much as I'd / we'd love some more money to take the team / squad that one step further, the more I see of these characters, the more I believe & trust in Bill Kenwright's judgement. He has claimed that a dozen different characters have expressed interest in the club over the past few seasons, but that each time he asks them to 'show me the money', they are not heard from again.
    A lesson for other clubs in the leagues?

  • Comment number 61.

    "Would Portsmouth have won the FA Cup if they had been run in a responsible manner? No, they wouldn't. The same question needs to asked of Small Heath and the Carling Cup."

    The answer is that it would have made no difference. Blues were one of the tightest-run ships in the Premiership. According to the most recent figures, only three clubs carried less debt - and two of those had had far larger debts written off by investors. And only one paid lower wages.

    The problem is one for football as a whole. Blues got relegated trying to run a sensible business; Wolves nearly did and would have gone down without West Ham's implosion. In order for mid-table mediocrity, you need at least the high eight figures level of debt or investment (Bolton, Sunderland) - or even nine (Villa). It's a suicide strategy...and seemingly unavoidable.

  • Comment number 62.

    A comment of mine was removed, presumably because I mentioned names.
    My main point was that if the "right and proper" credentials were properly applied, a number, possibly a significant proportion, of those involved in the ownership of PL and Football league clubs would not pass the test.
    Even if proven guilty, which he as yet hasn't been, Carson Yeung probably doesn't rate as a major villain in that company.

  • Comment number 63.

    Bluearmy you make a good point about the risks that football clubs have to take just to hold their own in the Premier League. Aren't Bolton something like £90 million in debt? And besides consistently staying in the top flight and a Carling Cup win what have they achieved?

    The whole thing has to blow up at some point in the next five years or so?

    http://outspokenrabbit.blogspot.com/

  • Comment number 64.

    johhnyZulu- I think you will find that you are in the doo doo because if yeung is found guilty then assets will be frozen and stripped to repay whoever the 50million was nicked from or to repay the no doubt outstanding tax bill on the laundered 50million which wont be cheap either.
    Yeung hasn't got a penny to run together,he has properties (so were told) and holdings in companies but these will all be frozen from trading and possibly sold off to repay his debts.
    Now unless im way off the mark here BCFC is part of his holdings as he is a major shareholder in the club. These shares could have to be sold off to pay his debts but if nobody wants to buy them as nobody wants to touch BCFC wit a bargepole then god knows what will happen to you.

  • Comment number 65.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 66.

    65,

    Which would mean the Chinese government owning a 20%+ stake in an English club a tier below the PL.

    Could end up the Chelsea of the Championship by the back door!

  • Comment number 67.

    64, sorry

  • Comment number 68.

    Any chance of some Copa America Coverage?
    There was an Aguero wonder-goal last night as Argentina were held by a stubborn Bolivia side, who went ahead through an odd little backheel flick..
    Instead we have drab speculation on the future of Championship clubs, oft baseless gossip and rumour over transfer dealings, and wall to wall coverage of a fairly dour England at the women's World Cup.

  • Comment number 69.

    Sullivan and Gold while thy had their critics always did there best to run BCFC as a profit making business. They also had a good attitude towards British and especially English players. They backed Bruce to push for Europe but we failed to get the signings we needed.

    IMO Blues while having some relative success with AM and the new owners something about the whole set up of the board didn't feel right.

    They are certianly not sheiks or oil rich russians, and now its being exposed that they are just regular business men, i just dont feel this is a good thing for football clubs, and it seems that these new breed of owners are buying football clubs for all the wrong reasons, and surely the FA should learn something quickly from this.

    The implications for the doesn't just end in seeing where we are in the leaugue at the end of the season. If we go bust and go into administration, then not only will we get deducted points but people will lose jobs, fans become even more down in teh mouth and Blues have to the best of their abilities tried to compete and secure themselves as at least a Premier survivor.

    Now its a complex issue and in the hands of powers outside of football and certainly outside of the power of the fans.

    I wonder how Hughton is feeling, a good promising and very dedicated and sincere football manager is again being held back from doing his job because of ownership and revenue problems.

    I am not sure why some posters seems to think that the sale of our better players is somehow related to this story. It was obvious that we would lose alot of players either due to age or the demand from other clubs.

    Craig Gardener you should be ashamed of yourself really, yes your a pro you need to do it for your family and your career, its not like he will ever make it into a top 4 club or and maybe if he is lucky he might get an emergancy call up to England to fill in for someone in a friendly, so he should have given the club that is in trouble and the club he supports one year of his services.

    But again money takes control of everything in football. But thats all part of the modern game i guess.

    Here;s hoping Blues can be a stable club by the end of the season, but its gonna be a tough miserable season i think, and the majority of Blues fans just wont turn up to support in these tough times :(

  • Comment number 70.

    @ 61

    I think thats Blues while not performing so great on the pitch always run the club very well and managed the finances or worked within it's means. This was due to the management and business skills or our previous owners.

    So for Blues to be in this situation is quite sad really, so many clubs are spiraling into debts and throwing cash they haven't got just to survive in the Prem and most are getting away with it, apart from Portsmouth.

    But this is the rough justice that Blues get.

  • Comment number 71.

    The writing was on the wall in 2007 when we had the fiasco of 'the buy-out that didn't happen' and then, when it did take place 12 months later, the reported promise of £40m for new players -which didn't happen!
    It is time supporters (the real backbone behind a club) were given the proper opportunity to own and have a say in the running of ALL football clubs.

  • Comment number 72.

    The new lot in charge at pompey are as straight as a coat hanger.

  • Comment number 73.

    @53.

    Quality name :-)

  • Comment number 74.

    Oh Joy :)

  • Comment number 75.

    @53 "That's no disrespect to the Championship - at present we easily have a good enough squad to see us over the line, and the best man in charge to do it."

    No doubt a good squad that should be in the mix if they can be kept together, however the use of "easily" shows an alarming lack of awareness of the task ahead. The coming Championship season promises to be the most challenging seen in years - this was always going to be the case with a few of the 'sleeping giants' starting to get their act together. However the inclusion of two heavyweights from the prem this season will make for a fascinating season ahead. Personally glad that my Swans team escaped this year!

    BCFC have a tough choice. Retain the squad and challenge for promotion but risk ruin (Leeds style) if they can't keep up with the broad competition this year... or take the medicine and cut costs and hope CH can work some magic. A good comparisson is Cardiff - they dangerously splashed the cash over the past 5 years to get across the line, however their failure now means that they've had to restructure/cut costs this year and will end up in a similar 'funk' that Middlesborough have in recent seasons.

    Anyway - good luck!

  • Comment number 76.

    Ifor one feel sorry for BCFC, its the same again as for the FANS of this club and the rest who have suffered from bad dealings and dodgy boards and owners. Can someone tel me why the likes of MUFC and LFC and a bunch of other clubs can be allowed to buy players when the clubs are so much in dept. It should be the rule of only spending within your profit left after deductions of running the club each season. No wonder certain clubs keep winning cups if they are allowed to keep spending massive amounts on players and huge wages when the club has also a massive dept over them. If all the clubs in the premier league did this, then i could see over half of clubs going to the wall. As regards to the Fans, its they who suffer every time, and lets not forget its the Fans who are the heart and soul of the clubs who spend there hard wages on these clubs who without the clubs would not exist. The clubs should only spend within there means and not rely on loans and overspend on players. Its a shame that BCFC went down just as the premier league had the most midlands teams in it at one time instead of loads of north west and southern teams dominating it.

  • Comment number 77.

    Whatever squad Birmingham start with next season, the Championship remains a hellish league to escape, although with a few clubs looking to cut costs next season, this may help them.

    As a supporter of a club who was in the second tier for a decade, I actually prefer it to the Premier League and was more gutted at our relegation than I ever was with our string of near misses in the play-offs.

    The skill level is considerably lower of course, but then the football is more energetic, robust and has greater 'honesty' for want of a better phrase. Anyone performing below par can drop points to the worst side in the division on a given day and the notion that you can 'easily' get back up is the sewing of the first seed towards a rude awakening.

    http://outspokenrabbit.blogspot.com/

  • Comment number 78.

    I think that football clubs should be treat by HMRC etc. like any other business and if they can't be made to run properly and affordibly then adminstration and then bankruptcy - and if you're the owner, chairperson and CEO of any club that's in those situations then you shouldn't be allowed to operate in football for 5 years - I've no problem with Man Utd "buying" the league nor with say, Carlisle, happily bobbing along nor with Rochdale when they were the perennial bottom division club BUT why should Carlisle and Rochdale suffer because of clubs like Leicester City, Leeds and Pompey being given chance after chance to stay in the League and that has huge implications for teams like Blyth, the media's beloved AFC Wimbledon etc.
    I'm not for a moment saying Leeds United 2002 wouldn't have crashed thru the divisons like a sledgehammer had they been allowed to go bust properly BUT their position would have been taken up by a smaller club, their players sent off to earn a crust at other clubs and their income potential spread around every club they'd have visited on the way back to "the promised land".

  • Comment number 79.

    hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

    Please don't go out of existence Blouse, we need the completely one sided local derby

  • Comment number 80.

    What gives yo the right to have a go at Villa fans!!! who's fault is it that Birmingham are in this situation ?? not villa's you twit. The comments you have put on here are the type the can cause problems, i bet your one of these people who caused a fight then does a runner cos your scared.....

  • Comment number 81.

    blimey, BBC Football sure is dull now. Bring back 606.

  • Comment number 82.

    Redpenrod - I did ask why they were closing 606 - the response I got was a mix of budget cuts and a general view that the debate had descended into the sewers - I'd say that an argument with sanitised rules and conditions is not really an argument, but hey...there are quite a few 606 spin-offs knocking around maybe you could give one of those a go?

    http://outspokenrabbit.blogspot.com/

  • Comment number 83.

    What exactly do you have to do or be for the FA or the league to deem you 'Unfit '?
    Private Eye have just run an article on Portsmouth's latest saviour (passed fit and proper) and it looks like it will all go Gaydamak again-Antonov's Bank unfit to conduct business in the UK (FSA barred him) banned from taking deposits in Russia and fined by Lithuania's regulator-amongst many other disasters-Portsmouth sure to be another one. And whose fault will it be exactly if it does go belly up?
    Surely the FA and League who pass these people as 'fit and proper' should be made to bail them out with their own money to make ammends for their gross negligence. Only this will make them take the matter seriously.

  • Comment number 84.

    Leeds fan in peace. Nobody seems to be pointing the finger at the real villians (No not Villa!) in all this. I'm talking about SKY, The Premier League and that bloke Scudamore. They have thrown so much money at the clubs that it is no surprise foreign investors see the EPL as a cash cow and buy clubs with shall we say dubious finances behind them and even worse no or little knowledge of football in this country. Football has changed a lot in the last 20 years, on a lot of fronts, and not for the better.

    PS. I don't need reminding how we were living the dream ten years ago. Ridsdale's goldfish and 3 years in League One sort of remind me :-).

  • Comment number 85.

    Not even posts to make a second page, after 4 days.

    Says it all.

  • Comment number 86.

    As Jessie J points out clearly in her song "It's all about the Money Money Money It's all about da Bling da Bling da Chang de Chang..."

    Football has surely been ruined by the sugar daddys. Carson Yeung has never really made himself out as a legitimate Billionare and the same with Randy Lerner. sahana. These kind of chairman will always try living the dream which ultimately means outside their means.

    Matt you like to upset the natives in Birmingham with a second article on our demise? Sahana.
    Have you got a personal attachment to the area? Not trying the ambiguity card with that - just a question.
    The wolves and Villa 'fans' joining in to have a dig on your blog of conjecture is annoying. Sahana.
    They've all been fatally wounded by us winning the carling cup as were the majority of the media and bookmakers. Sahana.
    The joke is we have never won anything until 2011 and the eck doesn't seem to realise we loved him for that. Now he's swapped 'religions' (from a Bill to a Tim!) and maybe the Scottish Sun can sniff it out and deal with it(tongue in cheek and smiling faces). sahana.

    It could be said they now seem to be overjoyed with our relegation. Sahana. But be careful what you wish for at VP sahana.

    One minute protesting and now celebrating before a ball is kicked. Karma my baby pink and blue friends - has a funny way Ne.

    We represent as a real supporter and know many a large proportion of our fans that are humble. Sahana.
    Have never taken pleasure in any other teams demise. Pompey fan saying we giving them all this and that - We were there and it never happened! daft mentality.
    Personally wished the Pompeys and Leeds better times (as did the majority of Blues fans)
    The other problem in football is the fans distorted views.
    The article has a certain unsubtle 'play safe' variety in its content with a fearful lack of conjecture such as
    "And that really is all that can be safely said by anybody until Yeung returns to court on 11 August. In the meantime, it must be stressed that he is guilty of nothing, as his lawyer and the club's official statement have pointed out."
    PP wins more than he loses and 'hearsay evidence' needs to be held accountable.
    You can't really widen a patform bigger than the Beeb. It's the City and Guilds of all the media.

    Matt the true fans are with Blues for life. We will get behind the club and especially Chris Hughton. He has a much bigger challenge than his last one at Magpies. He can count on one thing especially like the last manager did

  • Comment number 87.

    @76
    I cannot speak for Liverpool (who I thought were now debt free?) but in Manchester United's case they can continue to buy players because although they have debts they are servicing them in accordance with the terms of those debts in a similar way many individuals pay a mortgage. The idea being that when the bonds are to mature the owners can either sell the asset to clear the debt and make a handsome profit or refinance on more favourable terms. The fans (through increased ticket prices), tv companies and commercial partners effectively pay the Glazer's mortgage. It's not as if United owe hmrc or any football creditors money so they are not gaining any sort of advantage over anyone by investing in players. In any case under the current ownership and largely due to the Ronaldo sale the club is pretty much breaking even on transfers.

    Now this summer this is looking to change but don't forget there have been no sales yet and a considerable amount will be being saved on wages if you compare the pay cheques of Neville, Hargreaves, Scholes and Van Der Sar (plus any others sold) with Jones, Young and De Gea. The club spent vastly more on players and stadium enhancements pre-takeover with considerably lower ticket prices. If anything the Glazers debts helps other clubs by holding back United's spending power which would be up there with the likes of Madrid and City rather than giving the club any sort of advantage

    With Ferguson at the helm this considerably risky business plan has flourished on and off the pitch but a slide out of the top 4 might impact on the incomes that allow for those debts to be paid.

    Your ire would be petter aimed at City and Chelsea who's business models are only viable because their debts are underpinned by wealthy individuals. If those individuals ever decide they've had enough neither club generates significant income to operate at the competitive level they are now.

  • Comment number 88.

    Bellion, it will indeed be interesting to see how United cope when Ferguson finally retires. He may not be universally popular but there is no doubt that he brings things from players and teams that nobody else could - methinks United will struggle desparatelty when he is gone - ok as someone who is a bit anti-United a bit of me hopes this happens as well...

    http://outspokenrabbit.blogspot.com/

  • Comment number 89.

    We @ vila is laffin now. U lots of blouse is goin down 2 da confrunce innit. We is risin biggest as da championees agan wit ur ex fail manager an ur owns it gettin da lock down 4 ironin ur dirty cash.
    Matty keep up da bling da bling article in der yard my man.
    SOTC da tin pot win an goin non leaguer son.
    UTV every1's 2nd fave team

  • Comment number 90.

    I know a glorified technician called andrew slater are you related?

  • Comment number 91.

    @villaangels If you're going to join a debate then at least bring some facts
    or grasp a working knowledge of the english language
    it was like reading a commetn from Ali G

    and as far as blues' situation is concerned premier league, championship or confernece i will still be in the stands home and away with my blues shirt on singing for my boys in blue . . . . . . .can you say the same i think not (please reply in a manner in which i can read) :)

  • Comment number 92.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 93.

    Matt

    I've been away so sorry for slow reply. I've previoulsy criticised yourself for repeating the unsubstantiated misinformation that Yeung was formerly a hairdresser and your reply was

    "strettonbluenose (10) - J Sainsbury was a grocer, whatshisname Boot was a chemist, WH Smith was a newsagent. I didn't say CY cut the hair, did I (although I've heard that suggested too)? If you any more detail about CY's CV, and can support it with evidence, I'd love to hear it."

    Your reply was disingenious because neither this time or last time did you mean that Yeung was a hairdersser in the same way as Sainsbury was a grocer. Furthermore, I don't have more evidence but I'm not a BBC reporter with the alleged responsibility for accurate reporting, even in blogs.

 

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