Receivership is rarely, if ever, a good word in the world of business. Yet it’s a sign of how screwed up things have been with regards to the ownership of Blues that the news that BIHL are now in receivership was actually greeted warmly in many quarters.
And that is understandable; it effectively means that the parent company (and with the club being the parent company’s single trading arm, the football club itself) is now in the hands of people who will be dispassionate about Blues, or won’t be running it to suit their own agenda(s). More importantly, it also means that any sale of the club will now be timed and priced for the benefit of the club as a business, and not timed and priced simply so that an unscrupulous few can line their own pockets one last time.
By the account of Daniel Ivery (a man who knows more than most about this all ownership malarkey) Carson Yeung and Peter Pannu (you remember, those two blokes who apparently have nothing to do with the club any more) desperately tried to stop this receivership being sought voluntarily by their rival faction on the BIHL board. It now effectively renders them powerless, and for me that can only be a good thing; between the two of them, they have brought this great football club to its knees and all in the name of profit and greed. I’ve never known a company of any kind voluntarily seek to bring outsiders in to run that company, but if there is a person or there are people who have done this to try and bring an end to this whole farce then all I can say is thank you. It’s about time someone did the right thing. It could be speculated that this move has been timed to come after the transfer window so that we now can’t sell any players. Again, if this the case then you can only surmise that this move has been instigated by someone with the genuine interests of the club at heart.
So there must be a catch, right? Well there is a threat of a points deduction. Coventry City and Southampton were both deducted points when their holding companies went to the wall, and whilst both clubs’ hierarchies appealed to the Football League that the holding company was a separate entity to the football club both were still deducted points. The people on the ground in Birmingham have done a wonderful job in making the club run as smoothly as possible on very tight financial lines, but rules are rules and if the powers that be find that we have broken them I’m fairly sure they would punish us.
A points deduction would place us right back in the drop zone; whilst it wouldn’t be an impossible situation to get out of, I think it would be a massive sucker punch to the players who have battled so hard to drag us well clear of the mire. Add that in to the fact that our most recent form may suggest that during the earliest days of Gary Rowett’s reign we were a team punching above its weight then I think then it’s hard to call how this group of players would respond to being in a relegation dogfight again.
On the other hand, there are people who would take relegation if it meant ridding us of these owners. Again I can sympathise with that; a season or two in League One could be seen as a reasonable price to pay if it means we get rid of the current lot and have some proper owners – Southampton can be pointed to as a perfect example of how that could work. But for every Southampton there’s a Coventry City who are now fighting against relegation to League Two and are still owned by the same people who took them there in the first place. Relegation wouldn’t necessarily be the plague to wash our sins away. I would also point out that in League One as an investment proposition we are arguably far less attractive than if we were a level higher.
I think this development now raises the question as to how the club will be funded in the long term. It’s clear that in the past the football club has been reliant on handouts from different people and whilst the club have sought to reassure fans that there are no money worries right now that may change in the future – if it did, who would pick up the tab for a club they would have very little say over now that it’s being run by an independent group?
All in all this news has to be greeted with cautious optimism in that it may be the beginning of the end for those who have tried for so long to keep hold of this club and have wrecked it in the process, but there are too many unanswered questions for Blues fans to be ecstatic. The future’s uncertain, but then again the future under BIHL looked fairly certain in that it looked fairly certain to be bleak. There is a light at the end of what has been a very long tunnel, I just hope that light isn’t coming from the glare of an oncoming train
Nat Peters SRB Reporter