BCFC: Ill Communication

Another day, another defeat for Birmingham City. This time it was Norwich City who emerged from St Andrew’s with the points having won 2-0, leaving Blues bottom of the table.

Birmingham City FC

I’ve no doubt that there are half a zillion hot takes on Blues’ predicament right now and I doubt I could do better than most of them.

I wasn’t at the game so I can’t comment on the performance anyway.

What I did want to pick up on however is the communication between the club and the fans in recent days.

There had obviously been a lot of rumours online about Steve Cotterill’s continued employment at BCFC, and on December 23 (the morning of the Sunderland game) we were told

The Board is fully committed to Manager Steve Cotterill, he has our 100 per cent backing.

I think the statement caught a lot of people by surprise by the tone – the talk of “solid foundations” and “right direction” seems contrary to what is happening on the pitch.

I said at the time on Twitter I thought that the statement was as much Ren Xuandong putting his stall out as it was the board backing Steve Cotterill.

I’ve said in the past how I think Ren’s future is potentially connected to Cotterill staying in his job. Ren was the man who hired Cotterill, and was the man who was firm in his convictions that Cotterill would lead the club to success.

Sacking Cotterill would show the owners that Ren made a mistake in hiring him – and potentially tell the owners that Ren should not be allowed to make another one.

On Boxing Day morning (the morning of the Norwich game) another statement was made – this time by Cotterill.

“They (the Board) have been in it, they have seen it (the situation) before I got here.

“And this hasn’t been a short-term thing, this has gone on for a little while.

“I understand that people don’t always want to hear about what’s gone on and they want to know about the here and now, which is why you can get the reactions you can get sometimes.

The Blues boss talked about how he was not surprised by the backing of the board, and alluded to problems behind the scenes that pre-dated his term of management at the club.

It was as though Cotterill was trying to move any blame for the club’s current league predicament to the regime that preceded him, implying that the board knew stuff was wrong and that it was going to take a long time to fix.

The post-match press conference after the defeat to Norwich was the most telling.

Q. It’s as much as a job for a psychologist isn’t it?

SC: “Yes, for sure it is at the moment. It’s everything absolutely everything. You don’t know half of it.

Q. Do you want share that with us? It would do you a favour if people understood.

SC: “No. I don’t do that.”

One of the things that the Birmingham Mail does now which I really like is to publish full transcripts of press conferences. It allows us to see the whole context of answers given – which in this instance is particularly telling.

It’s particularly useful as it gives an insight into the questions asked.

The last two questions of this press conference were looking at why the confidence in the team was so low – and the cryptic answer about us not knowing half of it I think again is to make us think that there is more wrong than there actually is; especially as Cotterill refused to elaborate on the answer.

While I believe there is some truth in the thought that it’s very easy to read too much into what is said to the press, I do believe a lot of what has been said over the last few days gives an insight into what I see as a messy affair behind the scenes.

I’m probably going to get pummelled for this but I think of late communication has slipped between the club and the fans. We see less interaction on social media; less detail as the club withdraw from the negative responses that they have been getting.

For what it’s worth, unlike some Blues fans I know I don’t think it’s the fault of Colin Tattum in his role of Head of Communications.

I can only imagine how much he must feel like he is between a rock and a hard place right now – and it only goes to reinforce my personal belief of how I would never, ever work for BCFC.

The board management and owners come from a culture where those lesser than oneself do not question their betters.

My impression of China has always been that those at the top feel and act as if they are untouchable – particularly as they are from a state where freedom of expression is not that free.

However, this is not China, and freedom of expression is very much free here.

“…and it is important that everyone who cares passionately about this great Club gets behind him and the players – together we are stronger.

If people are to pull together behind the club and the players as the board asked for in their statement on December 23, then in my opinion at least it’s time the board understood why there are negative reactions from fans and acted to resolve them.

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