Rowett Sacking: The Fallout

The fallout surrounding the controversial sacking of Gary Rowett by Birmingham City’s owners Trillion Trophy Asia seems no sign of abating four days on. Two late goals turning a winning position to a last-minute defeat to Brighton in Gianfranco Zola’s first game in charge hasn’t helped matters as the club tries to calm the emotional outpouring on social media.

Gary Rowett

If I’m honest, I’m not that surprised by the levels of vitriol espoused online. Rowett was a popular manager with a strong narrative of achievement with little funding. Throughout Sky’s coverage of the Brighton game they talked up how much Rowett had done for the club, and how well his teams had played on the pitch (regardless of how good performances actually were). His sacking came as a complete surprise to most and with virtually no explanation from the powers that be.

However, it does seem to be symptomatic of modern football that the levels of drama queenery have reached unprecedented levels. There seems to be an obstinate refusal in some quarters to accept the possibility that there may have been reasons for TTA doing this beyond them wanting a celebrity manager. I talked about some of these in my last piece, while the chief sports’ writer at the Sunday People (and Blues fan) Neil Moxley wrote this for the Mirror where he expanded further.

I think it’s important to note here that there is a difference between understanding why something has happened and liking it; people have every right to be unhappy with Rowett’s removal but I think we have to accept it’s done now and move on – because there is the square root of FA we can do about it.

Of course, pieces by Mox or by myself fall a long way short of an official explanation – and I believe this is a large part of the problem. We don’t know who TTA are – we know names, but names are meaningless without context, and we have very little of that; we don’t even have pictures of these people. People have accused Panos Pavlakis of going into hiding but to be fair to the bloke it’s not like we don’t know who he is or we can’t get hold of him via social media.

In these days of non-disclosure agreements and gagging orders I think we are going to have to accept that there won’t be any further statements on the Rowett situation – as much as that isn’t liked. What I think is important now from TTA to help sort things out is for someone to come into the open as a representative of TTA.

There were three new appointees to the board this week – who are also Birmingham International Holdings board members. My message to TTA would be for them to give us some pictures and some biographical details so we can see what you look like. Rather than hiding like cowards behind bodyguards and barriers to exclusive corporate areas, talk to us. The TTA employee I met in April of this year – Jerry Yiu – is on Twitter but as seen from his profile, he’s only tweeted once.

Unfortunately, I think we as Blues fans have to accept that TTA are here for at least two years; it’s my understanding they legally cannot sell the club until after October 2018. Not only that – but without the input of money from TTA, there is no club. TTA still hold a charge over the ground and the most recent accounts confirm that without TTA’s input, the club is insolvent.

The corollary of that is that TTA are very much in control and will run things as they see fit. It’s a vagary of modern football that a proportion of fans want all the money pumped into their club from owners, yet don’t want owners to do anything more than sign the cheques. IF (and I’ll accept it’s an IF until they do it) TTA do make a significant investment in the team during the transfer window, we have to accept that they have the right to decide who gets to spend it. We don’t have to like it – but that is the way things are.

It’s time now for a calming influence. As director of the club and as a “representative” of TTA/BIH (although I understand he’s employed by neither directly), this now lies on Panos Pavlakis’ shoulders. I’ve often thought Panos was given so much kudos and acclamation simply because he wasn’t Peter Pannu. The time has come to prove that he is more than that – that he can be the figurehead of the club, a role he has held de facto for some time.

I’ve been asked by many people if I’m going to restart Often Partisan after all of this. The answer to that question remains no; due to time constraints and the fact I live in Poland I don’t think I can write something daily about the club in the way that I used to. 

However, I’ve been thinking about changing the focus of this blog to being about Blues ownership only and updating it as and when I can with information and news sourced both from the UK and Hong Kong. I can’t promise miracles but if people read it, I’ll write it.

Your support for this project would be gratefully appreciated.

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