There are different kinds of ownership. Coombs, Wheldon, the Kumar brothers, Sullivan and Yeung have all been owners of Birmingham City FC. They’ve controlled the board room and occupied the best seats. But it’s the fans that own the pride and the passion, and pass the memories on from one generation to the next.
It isn’t clear just who is controlling the company that owns Birmingham City at the moment; the dealings of Birmingham International Holdings Ltd are not at all transparent. But it does seem clear that it’s raison d’être is not just a love of football; there are other considerations such as its listing on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. BIHL is not alone in this; many of the people who have control over clubs or football organisations have none-football reasons for the decisions they make.
This week, FIFA announced that its investigation of its own World Cup bidding process had found no significant evidence of corruption in connection with the bids. Or, to borrow a heading from an article in the New York Times, FIFA looks at itself and nods in approval. Since then, one of the investigators has disputed that conclusion and the whole affair seems to be developing into a farce.
So how should football supporters react? What do you do if you love the game but hate the way it’s run? As John Oliver says, in his YouTube video, it is hard to justify getting so much joy out of the World Cup when it is run by an organisation that has caused so much pain.
Birmingham City fans face a similar dilemma: what do you do if you love your club but don’t like the owners?