Category Archives: Blues Trust

Coventry in the Cup, gambling and Blues news

As the BBC website said in its report: “In front of a paltry St Andrew’s crowd of just 2,697 on a foul night, Coventry set up a first meeting with Birmingham since beating them 3-2 in the League Cup at the Ricoh Arena in August 2012.” And we’ll be playing as the away team in our own stadium. I went to the game and enjoyed it. I find watching football much less stressful when I have an interest in a game but no deep emotional attachment.  I wanted Coventry to win so that Blues could play away at St Andrew’s but if Coventry had lost, I wouldn’t have felt as distressed as I do when Blues lose.

Gambling and football

On Sunday, there was an article on the Guardian website about the gamblification of football and the relationship between the Premier League’s income from media and gambling.

“The basis of the Premier League’s immense wealth is its media rights, sold to broadcasters and then on to viewers in packages costing as much as £50 a month. Manchester City versus Liverpool, of course, is a very easy sell, Norwich versus Bournemouth not so much. But a bet can turn an armchair viewer into a Canaries fan for 90 minutes and boost the audience for lesser matches, while the package prices might rise without the revenue from adverts in the breaks.”

The most recent issue of When Saturday Comes, Issue 395,included an editorial on the incongruity of Wayne Rooney’s video about his problems with gambling being produced by 32Red, the betting company that funded his arrival at Derby. It included the information that “16 of the Championship’s 24 clubs have gambling firms on their shirts”.

The good news is that using credit cards to gamble is going to be banned. A BBC article said that “there are examples of consumers who have accumulated tens of thousands of pounds of debt through gambling because of credit card availability.”

Blues news

Last weekend started well with a win against Luton. The timing was different to the Blackburn game but the events were repeated. Birmingham scored first, the opposition equalised with a penalty, then Birmingham scored again and Harlee Dean was sent off. Reports said that it wasn’t pretty and a tweet from Brian Dick said, “#bcfc have no need to apologise for that victory, substance over style is no bad thing. Hopefully the last two matches are a small acorn that will grow into something much more stable. Striker help so obviously needed, though.”

Blues Trust published a post designed to help readers decide if the sale  and leaseback arrangement of St Andrew’s is a good or bad thing. It’s worth reading if you are interested in how the club is being run. Blues Trust’s view is that it would have been helpful if the club had been more open when the Trust asked about this in May and said, “major issues affecting the club need good communication and sometimes consultation”.

On Monday, an article on football finance included bad news on our financial situation but a nice tribute to our fans. “A shout out for the fans: ‘Despite their many issues, Blues have now seen their attendance rise 5 years in a row from the 15,457 low point in 2013/14, which reflects very well on their supporters. In fact, the 22,483 attendance last season was the highest since they were last in the Premier League in 2011.’” 

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Notes on the news

There was a lot of news about Birmingham City this week. On Monday, the draw for the FA Cup fourth round brought up the intriguing possibility of Blues being the away team at St Andrew’s if Coventry win the third round replay. The FA confirmed that Coventry would be the home team if the tie goes ahead.  A club announcement said that the Middlesbrough game would be moved to Tuesday evening,  21 January.

On Tuesday, the accounts were published and revealed that “freehold land and buildings” had been sold to Birmingham City Stadium Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Birmingham Sports Holding Limited. This raised questions about the application to register St Andrew’s as an Asset of Community Value.  A post on the Blues Trust website explained the timeline for this and said,

“The failure of the Club to tell the fans that the ground had been sold … is a continuing example of the unwillingness of Directors to engage with supporters. We understand that the EFL had known for some time that the ground had been sold, but because the sale value does not appear to have been inflated, the EFL had no issues with it.  So why was this information withheld from Supporters by the club?”

Blues Trust also published a link to an article in the South China Morning Post, which included a reference to the Blues Trust statement.

A new group of Blues fans, 1875, set up a new website and sent a letter to Birmingham Sports Holdings Chairman Zhao Wenqing, requesting him to improve the situation at Blues. They believe that writing to the powers that be will be more effective than moaning on social media.

The Birmingham Mail published some articles about the EFL charge and other matters at the club. One had a large headline that said, “The fans deserve to know what’s going on at Blues.”  I agree with that.

Amid all this disturbing  news, there were some reassuring quotes from Pep Clotet.  He said that Marc Roberts should be available for the Cardiff game, Blues’ next home fixture on 18 January. And, commenting on the EFL’s charge that the club had breached the imposed business plan, Clotet said the staff and players had been informed “there is nothing to worry about and what we need to do is focus on our job which is trying to win games.”

I hope that today they will try to win their game against Luton and will succeed in doing that.

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Getting old

Eight years ago, on 13 August 2011, I went to a meeting of Birmingham City fans to discuss setting up a supporters trust. Daniel Ivery had suggested on his blog that might be a better way to react to the club’s problems than waving a slogan on a bedsheet. I got involved with the steering group that set up the trust and have been involved in various ways since then. Most recently, I’ve been the secretary but I stepped out of that role after our AGM on Saturday.

I didn’t leave the job because I’ve given up on the idea of a supporters trust but because I’m slowing down as I get older and it seemed like the right time to hand over to someone else. In fact the fate of Bury FC has reinforced my belief in the usefulness of trusts. It looks as though Bury is going to be liquidated so now there’s a group getting ready to form a phoenix club. In their statement they said, “134 years of history will not die when Bury FC’s last rites are read. Bury FC is alive in every single fan.” Every football club needs to have some group that keeps an eye on the governance and finance and which will step in if things go pear-shaped.

It’s not clear how things are going at Birmingham City; the club still seems to be losing money. We might end up in financial trouble again if we don’t get promoted. Performances and results have improved but nobody can guarantee a top two position for a club. 

It was good to get another win on Saturday.  I had just taken a photo of what I thought was the half time score when Pederson scored a goal in time added on, so I had to take another photo.  Luton’s equaliser was disappointing but I kept hoping that we’d score again and Jutkiewicz did. The final whistle went, Pep Clotet came on the pitch to shake  hands and hug, and I went home happy.

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Hong Kong

Hong Kong is an amazing kaleidoscope of tall buildings, mass transit trains, trams, buses, cars, handcarts and people.  There are lots of people in a hurry, going places, but there are also small parks dotted around the city for those who want to pause and be refreshed. There’s food, glorious food including some I fancied, the papaya and red onion salad was a favourite, and food that I didn’t try such as seahorses. Continue reading

Exhaustion and exhilaration

The game on Saturday reminded me of why I love football.  When I watch a game like that, I forget about everything else for a couple of hours.  That everything else includes more important concerns and it’s good to get a break from thinking about them.  Over twenty years ago, I went through a very difficult period, when I had serious concerns about the health and well-being of the two people I loved most in the world.  The only break I got from worrying about them was watching football; watching Birmingham City play took my complete capacity for worrying and I forgot about everything else. Continue reading

Going round in circles

Life is like the outer circle bus route; you wait ages for a number 11 to come and then three come along in convoy.  With buses you can just get on one of them but you can’t do that in life when several different things are demanding your attention. You just have to hop from one activity to another and can end up going in circles. Continue reading

Interesting times

It looks as though the next couple of weeks could be interesting for Birmingham City, both on and off the pitch. In tomorrow’s game, we will see how Rowett reacts to last weekend’s loss: who he puts in the team and how they play. I’d like to see Zigic in the squad and coming on as a sub. He would get a good reception: fans were singing his name at Blackpool and he wasn’t even there. Continue reading

More change needed

On Tuesday evening it felt as though everything had changed for Birmingham City.  It had only been a couple of weeks since one manager was sacked and eight days since a new one was appointed.  Our previous home game on October 25th had ended 0 – 8, utter humiliation, but hope was renewed following our no-score draw away on November 1st. The crowd too was transformed, from miserable silence to loud support.  I stayed to the end of the Bournemouth game because the team that had capitulated were my team and I felt I needed to be there as long as they were on the pitch. On Tuesday night, I stayed because I wanted to. Continue reading

Not all bad

Giving advice?

Giving advice?

Birmingham City’s loss to Charlton on Saturday was pretty bad.  Even I started yelling advice to the players and my knowledge of football techniques and tactics is minimal.  I probably should be grateful that I only notice the most glaring of errors. Watching a game like that must be more painful for those who understand more. Continue reading

Success isn’t everything

Defeated by Stoke - beaten but unbowed

Defeated by Stoke – beaten but unbowed

I enjoyed watching Birmingham City’s loss to Stoke1 far more than some of the games they’ve won. Michael Johnson2 said it was one of the best games he’d seen. The stadium was less than half full (10,445 home, 2991 away) but the Blues fans filled it with noise as they passionately supported the team. It’s a ragbag of assorted players that other clubs don’t want but they are our players and have shown great commitment and effort. I wouldn’t swop them for more talented players who didn’t care about the club. For me, success is less important than a bond between club and supporters, a feeling that this is my club.    Continue reading