The majority of blues fans are harbouring hopes of a promotion push this upcoming season but would it help or hinder the clubs future? With the promotion to the top flight blues will get untold riches as well as the chance to face the elite clubs in England, but could it actually push the club into deeper trouble?
Since 2009 Carson Yeung has had a choke hold on blues and despite being removed from the club, on paper at least, the Hong Kong native still attempts to run the club from abroad between his court appearances. I am not going to pretend I understand what is going on in this complex game of chess where the future of my beloved team is at stake but I do feel that promotion may not be the saving grace fans hope for. As mentioned above the promotion would catapult Birmingham back into the top flight since 2011 allowing them to compete with both Manchester clubs as well as London based giants Chelsea and Arsenal. Whilst I would love nothing more than to see Demarai Gray dancing through Liverpool’s defence live on Sky Sports I would not be able to be happy for the youngster with the knowledge that the television money would be filtering its way to Carson Yeung and his associates. By extension if blues were to go up and come straight back down again the parachute money designed to help clubs push to return to the Premier League would not be invested in securing the talented individuals who wear the Royal blue, but line the pockets of a men who are better suited to the fluorescent orange jumpsuits of criminals.
Another reason to worry is Blues’ recent history in the transfer market often selling the best talents at St Andrews for bargain basement prices and replacing them with journeymen and untried youngsters. Examples of this was the departure of academy graduates: Jack Butland, Nathan Redmond and Jordan Mutch for miniscule fees instead of trying to raise the price if they were determined to sell or simply saying no and assembling a talented squad to compete in the league. Moving on from this it goes to the sale of Carling Cup winners: Scott Dann, Roger Johnson as well as Ben Foster who also left for a small fee. In all six cases the transfers were panic sales and no consideration was given for potential value and transfer fees in the future. Quite simply the best players at the club were not being safe guarded to help the manager challenge for promotion. This leads me to believe if we were to go up and come back down manager Gary Rowett would be without talented youngster Demarai Gray to help the club bounce back.
A further problem is that a common theme in the last few years at blues whilst departures have been a frequent occurrence at Birmingham the managers have seen little to none of the funds raised. From Chris Hughton to Lee Clark and now Gary Rowett they haven’t had any transfer funds locked in a safe which has allowed transfers to pass Birmingham by including Diego Fabbrini and Robert Tesche, despite the small investment in talented youngster Nicolai Brock-Madsen in an attempt to appease fans.
The next issue excluding the fire sale being orchestrated by the people above Rowett is the lack of quality in the squad as it stands as well as the lack of depth. With blues being short of natural centre backs and no experienced back up options up top, Gary Rowett would be left to try and survive in the top flight with limited options. With this in mind do you really want to see Birmingham go to these grounds and be blasted week in week out bearing in mind the outrage of the Bournemouth incident? It would only get worse when Paul Robinson faces Diego Costa instead of Callum Wilson. Also if Birmingham were to go up and do okay but found the survival task too much, what would be there to stop him following in the footsteps of past managers: Steve Bruce, Alex McLeish and Chris Hughton in leaving blues for other clubs in a better position? Do we really want to rush and lose the Bromsgrove Mourinho or wait until he can build a side that can compete?
The final negative is that our best players could perform well and be subject to countless bids which lure them away, only Rowett wouldn’t see the funds. To lose Demarai Gray, Michael Morrison and Andrew Shinnie and replace them with players of a blatant drop in ability and quality would not only be disheartening for the fans that fill St Andrews week in and week out but it could sink the club to new depths. But maybe it’s not all doom and gloom on the other side of the fence?
The first positive for going up in many fans eyes is the opportunity to face the elite clubs in England as well as being able to witness the boys in royal blue play in the best stadiums in the country. With trips to places such as White Hart Lane as well as the Etihad and of course the historic Old Trafford on offer to those who can secure on the promotion places this season why wouldn’t I want to see Birmingham promoted? Another reason I have seen for blues to go up is the fact some fans consider it a way of signing better players as the club could use its Premier League status to help secure deals and not have deals pass the club by. In a similar vein it is argued that although the funds wouldn’t be as available as other clubs in the Premier League the fact blues would be a top flight team means that they could sign better free agents etc. Personally I do disagree with this mentality as I feel nothing can change at Birmingham until everything to do with the Hong Kong native is gone from blues so the club can rebuild itself.
In agreement with an earlier point linked to facing the elite teams it would also allow Birmingham to receive greater TV money rights as fixtures against the football super powers would be shown more frequently then blues currently are in the second tier. This money could then be used to invest in the clubs infrastructure including the youth development but would more likely fill the pockets of people with little to no interest in football and what’s best for the club.
The final argument worth noting is the one centred on building Birmingham into a brand such as the larger teams in the Premier League have. In all fairness the potential really is there for Birmingham to become a well-established top flight side under the right ownership. For example when you consider how big Birmingham as a city is as well as all the areas connected to it, without a strong football team there is a massive catchment area to pull fans from and help fill St Andrews. Also if Birmingham follow a natural development over the course of several seasons such as Stoke have done who are now in a strong position to compete for Europa League qualification spaces. In short the fan base potential is there, a few young players with great potential are there it just needs the right investment and hard work from those above Gary Rowett for Birmingham to become a household name once more.
As I’m beginning to wrap this blog up I just want to give you two scenarios to consider for the future of Birmingham City. One of which involves waiting just 2 – 4 seasons in the Championship competing around the top half of the table as well as developing young stars Demarai Gray, Koby Arthur, Reece Brown as well as the impressive Viv Solomon – Otabor. By doing this it allows the receivers, Ernst and Young, to sort the club out before selling it and taking it away from Carson Yeung plus his associates and hopefully selling it to an owner who truly cares about blues. If the new owner were to come in and work with Rowett to build a team capable of becoming a recognised Premier League team I feel it would be worth the wait.
On the other hand if blues were to get promoted this season it would only further Carson Yeung’s efforts to hold onto the club for longer. Also if we have learnt anything from previous transfer windows Rowett would not be given substantial finances to build a strong team so I can only for see blues ending up like Burnley getting relegated and losing our talented young star Demarai Gray. Following the relegation if blues lost Demarai Gray as well as Reece Brown and Rowett was not given any investment to find a replacement of similar quality I could see the passionate ex player resigning.
As always thank you for reading my views on Birmingham but now it’s your turn. Using the comments section try and persuade me that blues would be able to cope in the top flight if they got promoted this season after a superb start to 2015/16.