October 12, 2014 by bluenosebible
By Tom Giles
The whole ownership issue surrounding Birmingham City has been reported widely in the local media, although unfortunately not to a large extent in the national press and still nobody knows what is going on. What has been happening to the club in the last few years is arguably the worst situation regarding ownership in English football and, despite constant murmurings of takeovers and even an official green light for one consortium, there seems to be no sign of progress. However, we have heard all this before and I would rather not dwell on it.
I would rather write about the somewhat strange advantages of being in such a predicament. The first of these is the financial situation. At Birmingham we no longer have players who, in football terms, are on a ridiculous amount of money. The financial mess surrounding Birmingham City means that the wage bill has had to be continually slashed with the maximum wage now offered to a new player at the club being around the £5,000 p/w mark, with Clayton Donaldson the only player reportedly on more. It is refreshing to see footballers on more modest wages and hopefully this sensible attitude regarding pay can continue after the ownership farce is over. This hopefully means we will no longer pay players more than they are worth. When people read that they will inevitably think of Nikola Zigic who was earning £60k a week in the Championship. This was far more than he was worth and a lot of people blamed the Serb for earning this amount of money and demanded that he defer his wages in order to help the club. However, I think that is harsh. It was not his fault that the board were foolish enough to offer him such a large contract without a clause to reduce his wages in the case of relegation. Hopefully lessons have now been learned and contracts will be managed better in future meaning players will be on more modest wages.
A further advantage is the emergence of young talent. In the last couple of seasons we have seen the likes of Nathan Redmond, Jack Butland, Callum Reilly, Mitch Hancox, Demarai Gray, Reece Brown, Koby Arthur and Will Packwood play regularly for the first team. Some of these players are local lads and Bluenoses who constantly try their best for the team and the shirt. Even if some of these players do not support the club as a fan they realise they have a fantastic opportunity to play regular football and have grown a fondness for the club after spending so long in its ranks. If we were not in the situation we are in now, these players would more than likely have been sold on or left to rot in the reserves. The whole point of a football club is that it is a community asset and, quite frankly, there is nothing better than seeing players from the community representing the local area in a national or international competition. In a way I have enjoyed watching Birmingham more in recent times for this reason rather than when we were in the Premier League when there was less of a local connection. The quality of football may not be as high but you can feel the passion for the club not just in the stands but also on the pitch. This could also really benefit Blues in the future as it will teach us that our academy is good enough to produce talent. With this being the case, we will not always have to spend silly money on average players when we have players at the club who are capable of making a difference.
Unfortunately, due to the current financial burden on the club we may see the youth players who are currently in the first team go the same way as Nathan Redmond and Jack Butland. However, hopefully when this ownership farce is over, we will not forget the joys that we have had watching young, local players who are committed to the shirt and to playing for Birmingham City. Hopefully, if this happens the club will continue the idea of bringing academy products into the first team set up.
Arguably the most important advantage, touched upon in the previous point, is the community feel around the club. When we were in the ‘glory days’ of the Premier League we were lucky enough to see the likes of Christophe Dugarry and Mikael Forssell strut their stuff at St. Andrews. However, with this current crisis surrounding the club, it feels as if fans can really see the value of the football club as a community asset and perhaps we took the club itself for granted during the Premier League years. Unfortunately it seems we preferred the lure of supporting a Premier League team rather than the football club itself, but we now realise how important the club is to our lives. I remember being devastated when Blues got relegated from the top flight in May 2011 but this whole idiocy surrounding the club at the moment has made me realise that there’s far more to football than promotion and relegation. In fact, the joy of football is about being able to go and see your club every week, no matter the division.
I think this is an appropriate point to insert a quote from the great Sir Bobby Robson:
“What is a club in any case?
Not the buildings or the directors or the people who are paid to represent it.
It’s not the television contracts, get-out clauses, marketing departments or executive boxes.
It’s the noise, the passion, the feeling of belonging, the pride in your city.
It’s a small boy clambering up stadium steps for the very first time, gripping his father’s hand, gawping at that hallowed stretch of turf beneath him and, without being able to do a thing about it, falling in love.”
Obviously, the sooner the crisis is over with the better, but hopefully the above mentioned principles that have come out of this situation will remain at the club.
Keep Right On.