Let’s talk

Panos Pavlakis gave his first external interview to the Birmingham Mail this week. For me, the report raised some questions, the main one being: why is he giving an interview now? It would be nice to believe that the worst really is over and he is preparing us for the day that our wonderful new owners take over the club and take us onwards and upwards. But, as someone whose natural inclination to pessimism has been reinforced by many disappointments delivered by Birmingham City, I fear that the future will not be that rosy or uncomplicated.

Pavlakis’ response to the question asking if he could give any assurances to supporters that the next owners will be fit and proper persons was not reassuring. He said, “that’s not my job. We have regulators in place to check everybody. BCFC is accountable to the Football League and maintains a very close dialogue with it to ensure compliance with the regulations.” He’s right to say that it’s the Football League’s job to ensure that owners are fit and proper but, when you look at some of the people who own clubs, it is clear the FL are not managing to do that.

Pavlakis’ commented on a meeting he had with representatives of some fans’ groups when he came to the club, saying that they were aggressive. I hope it won’t be too long before he has another meeting and that he’ll try to meet with a group that represents the broad spectrum of Blues fans. And for the group to be truly representative, it can’t just include fans who are easy to deal with or who belong to approved supporters’ clubs. This won’t be easy. To quote The Art of Starting a Dialogue,

“The biggest barrier remains the past. The legacy of decades of looking down at football fans still sends ripples through the room … This can manifest itself in any number of ways (‘you never did this in the past so why should we believe you now?’) so if there were one thing I would urge from both clubs and supporters, it’s constancy. No genuine dialogue ever sprang from a one-off meeting. Success is all about trust. Our supporter engagement & consultation processes need to be designed around this principle.”

I know this is somewhat of a bee in my bonnet and I’ve also written on the Blues Trust site about the need for fans and club to talk. I’ll probably write about it again. In all areas of life, I would always prefer to talk than to shout.