Why I want Birmingham City to stay in the Championship

I wasn’t one of those who started dreaming about promotion after our win at Crystal Palace.  It didn’t seem very likely and I was not sure I wanted it.  For much of this miserable season I’ve been drifting along, trying to not get too excited or too upset by the various rumours swirling round the club, and not at all sure what I wanted.  The uncertainly about the future of the club remains but I’m a lot clearer now about what I want to happen.  I want to keep the youngsters.

A lot of things have gone wrong for us but there has been an upside; the lack of cash to buy players and all the injuries have opened the door for some of the young players. It’s been good to see some of them on the pitch, including teenagers such as Jack Butland, Ravel Morrison, Nathan Redmond, Will Packwood, Mitch Hancox, Callum Reilly, Reece Hales and Koby Arthur.

Butland and Mutch

Butland and Mutch

I think that there’s something special about our group of young players.  There is a core of young men who have come up through Blues Academy and have been with the club a long time.  Some of these came to the club at a very young age: Callum Reilly when he was seven; Nathan Redmond, Mitch Hancox and Josh Hawker when they were eight. Josh, who has a squad number but no appearances, is the son of Phil Hawker, who played for the club in the early 1980s. If my memory serves me right (and it doesn’t always) when Nathan Redmond scored his first goal for Birmingham City in the Europa League game versus Nacional, he rushed over to celebrate with Mitch Hancox, who was on the bench that night. I get the impression that our young players are a band of brothers. That’s why I want to hold on to them and watch them develop together. Our financial situation may make that difficult. I was sad to lose Jordan Mutch last summer and to see him playing for Cardiff on our pitch on January 1st.  When he and Jack Butland walked off together at the end of that game, it seemed like a symbolic prediction of a possible nightmare to come with our talent walking away from our club.

If we gained promotion to the Premiership, which is mathematically possible though highly unlikely, we wouldn’t see our bright, young prospects playing in the first team.  If the financial problems continued we’d be selling our good players in the summer.  If rich new owners came, they would want to buy more experienced players.  Whether we are broke or rich, we wouldn’t see so many youngsters playing in the Premiership.

It is also mathematically possible that we could be relegated.  I fear that would lead to financial meltdown, the sale of all our half decent players and maybe a plunge down to League 2 the following season.  I really don’t want to think about that possibility too much.

I think our best chance of keeping our young talent and continuing to develop it would be to stay in the Championship and get new owners who believed in sustainable progress rather than a quick fix.  So that is what I’m hoping for.


7 thoughts on “Why I want Birmingham City to stay in the Championship

  1. richard knight

    Brilliant my thoughts exactly the more the club is about brum and loyalty the better,

  2. kpg

    good comments and great sentiment. I remember watching the Latchford, Francis, Burns, Gallagher, Summerill et al come through to the first team with the same pride and joy.
    Despite the sorrows of games we have lost this season such as Saturday against Wolves it has been refreshing to go to every home game with a reasonable chance of winning.
    In the Premiership I attended half of the games thinking a draw would be a good result.

    1. Puddleglum Post author

      Thanks for the comments. I would like eventually to be in the Premiership AND have a chance of winning every game!

  3. Russell Dempsey

    I truly sympathise with your views on youth, and the false idol of the Premiership. However:
    If we stay in the Championship, there is always a ‘chance’ of relegation to League One. Promotion to the Premier League eradicates that chance.
    If we get to the Premier League, we have more chance of winning another trophy, as we would play less rounds.
    If we get to the Premier League, we would have more money to continue the work started by the academy. Without that money, we are faced with a possibility that the academy could be dismantled in the future.
    If we stay in the Championship the kids who have shown us loyalty will never play Premiership football, unless they leave. They may well do. Even if they don’t go to the Prem, we may sell our kids to balance the books, whoever is our owner. If we don’t have a buyer, this is increasingly likely. We were all surprised Redmond didn’t go in January, but Butland DID.
    If we want our club to have success, realistically it needs to be in the Premier League, it is where the big sponsorship deals, and the big TV money comes from. What is to stop Man U, Man C, Chelsea, Arsenal (and Stoke!!!!!!!) from buying the very youth players you have named?

    The simple facts of the matter are, the longer we stay in the Championship, the more our attendances will stall. Lower attendances (and lack of Prem/Sky money) will mean less investment in the team. Youth goes so far, but when it comes to January and we have our inevitable injury crisis, we NEED cash to bring new players in, even loans cost. I will say – here and now – I would so much rather have a guaranteed ten year ‘yoyo’ period Prem/Championship/Prem/Championship/etc than a guaranteed ten year stay in the Championship.

    The Premier League is not the be all and end all of football. I was at Wembley and wouldn’t trade that Carling Cup win for an extended stay in the Premiership, BUT fans of all football clubs MUST aspire to win every match. That would bring the ‘regrettable’ promotion, and ‘sad’ Premier League title, and ‘tragic’ Champions League appearances. I jest, of course. It is entirely possible our club could continue merrily along for many a year in the Championship, nurturing young talent who don’t quite make it to Premier League quality, but what would be the point? If they do hit that type of potential, they will understandably leave, or tragically waste their talent a division below their ability…

    Short term, ask any one of the players you named, Hawker, Reilly, Redmond, Hancox- if they are daft enough and/or loyal enough to want to stay at Blues forever – where they want to play for Blues, next season, they will say the Premier League. They will admit there is a chance they will sit on the bench and maybe even miss out altogether, but they MUST aspire to be the best, else there is no motivation for youth players. I say let’s get to the Premier League as soon as possible, and hope our kids both stick with us, and prove their skills fit to match those of the ‘stars’ they aspire to be.

    Keep Right On, and a GREAT BLOG, btw…


    1. Puddleglum Post author

      I too would like to get into the Premiership, but not next season. Thanks for a very thoughtful reply.

      1. Russell Dempsey

        I would agree with you (not that I’m any longer deluded that we CAN get back there this season) but my fear is, “what if this season (a.n.other season we’re not deemed ready) actually turns into the very last season we were ever capable of getting back up?”, and 100 years later, fans of a conference-league BCFC are saying ‘if only we went up – struggling or not – 100 years ago, we may have been fine all those years ago’….

        Always upwards IMO….

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