Birmingham City fans agree that the club is in bad way but don’t agree on what needs to change. Some very simplistic solutions are bandied around on internet forums — sack Clark, boycott St Andrews — but even their proponents don’t usually claim that such actions will bring an end to all our troubles. Most of us would probably agree that things won’t improve until we get new owners and that might not happen for some time.
Before the match on Saturday, Daniel Ivery gave me a copy of Haircuts & League Cups, which he and Will Giles wrote. I didn’t have time to read the book at the weekend but read a few snippets and looked at the last couple of chapters to try to get an idea of their conclusions. Chapter 16, written by Will, describes the courts and appeal system in Hong Kong. In recent years, the overall conviction rates in the Hong Kong District Court have been over 90%. This high conviction rate has been linked to the absence of a jury; trial is by a judge sitting alone. In Carson’s case, the prosecution was not required to prove that his money was derived from illegal activities or that Carson knew that it was the proceeds of an offence but only that a reasonable man would come to the conclusion that the money represented the proceeds of an indictable offence. There are grounds for appeal and Will writes that Carson’s “legal battle has not even reached half time and those Blues fans who thought it was all over will need to think again.”
What needs to change is the title of Daniel’s last chapter. He believes that the Premier League and Football League should have stricter rules about who can own a football club and enforce those rules. I agree with Daniel on this, the ‘fit and proper’ test for owners is not fit for purpose. Based on their previous history, I can’t see the leagues taking action without pressure from fans and from government. So, although I think it would be better for the leagues and the Football Association to safeguard the future of football in this country, I’d be in favour of the government pushing them in the right direction if they won’t act of their own accord.
The Labour Party has announced that there will be a legislative shake-up in English and Welsh football if they are in power after the next election. Their plan would give supporters seats on the board and “influence over ticket prices, shirt sponsorship, ground naming rights and plans to change the colour of the strip or the club’s name.” Supporters would also have the right to buy shares if the ownership of their club changes.
In the meantime, I’ll continue to support my team. And I’ll finish reading the book. Winston Churchill said, “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” I think Haircuts and League Cups is going to help me understand the recent history of my club.