Editorial: Three Questions

Blues held their most recent quarterly supporters’ forum on November 7th. Selected supporters and supporters groups were invited to St Andrew’s to ask questions of staff about the way the club is run.

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The full minutes of the meeting do not appear to be available online yet (at least I have not seen them), but I learned some of what was said from this post by KRO Birmingham.

As much as I think meetings between fan groups and the club are a good idea, I also think it’s an easy chance for the club to give our positive spin and to control the narrative somewhat.

I also believe that sometimes it’s hard to think of the right questions for fans to ask at these meetings.

After all, these forums are not really designed to talk about if we’re signing a striker in the window, or if Lee Camp is going to get dropped next week.

Likewise, while I think many fans want reassurance that the owners of the club have a plan going forwards, getting specifics is a lot more difficult.

I don’t get invited to these meetings any more – not that I really would want to go anyway – but I’ve put together three questions I’d have liked to have seen asked – and why.

Question One

“With the ongoing protests and riots happening in HK, can the club reassure fans that there are no plans for the owners to look to pull out of Birmingham Sports Holdings?”

For those who are not aware, there have been months of protests in Hong Kong by ordinary citizens, which began over legislation to allow the Chinese government to extradite people from HK to the mainland.

These protests have now escalated into what seems like nightly violence, with protestors now rioting on the streets against a police force they see as the enemy.

This in turn has impacted on the HK economy which is now in recession having posted the worst quarterly figures since the 2008 Global Financial Crisis, while banks estimate billions of dollars have been moved out of Hong Kong to other countries such as Singapore.

While the stock market has been largely unaffected, there has to be a real fear now that if this continues for much longer stocks will struggle – which will cause further investor flight. If the stock market gets too affected, then it could see Trillion Trophy Asia owner Paul Suen Cho Hung pull out; it’s possible other people like the elusive Mr King could also get spooked.

I’d like some reassurance that the owners don’t see that happening and that they’re committed to staying put despite the increased violence.

Question Two

“After the foofaraw in the summer surrounding the sacking of Garry Monk amidst complaints of over reliance on his agent James Featherstone, can the club confirm that Blues are not reliant on one agent still?”

After the departure of Monk from the managerial hot seat at St Andrew’s, club CEO Ren Xuandong talked to various newspapers about how he felt Monk was too reliant on his old schoolfriend and agent Featherstone.

I’m not going to deny that – nor am I going to say that spending was poor this summer because at the moment it does look like some really good business has been done.

However, I have to admit I have some concerns because it looks possible that Blues are falling into the same trap again, but with another company.

Blues have been using the services of people like Andreas Manzano and Ignacio “Nacho” Guerrero Vanaclocha of Nama Sports to help them source players this summer.

It’s noticeable that Blues have signed lower league Spanish players such as Agustin Medina from UE Cornella, along with Ivan Guzman from Olot, who has been loaned out to Cornella.

Then there are under-23 players such as Miguel Fernandez and Bernard Sun, who has not been seen for even the u23s since he signed.

I don’t think it’s unfair to ask that the club aren’t over reliant on Nama Sports or their connection with Cornella – and to be reassured the club are not making the same mistake they made with Darren Dein for example.

Question Three

“With Brexit potentially happening very soon, what are the club doing to insulate themselves from the effects of the UK’s departure from the EU?”

I think you’d have to be living under a rock to not have heard about Brexit – and while it’s debatable when and how it’s going to happen I’m sure it will have implications for football.

The chief issue would be if the freedom of movement to and from EU countries ends.

That in turn would surely mean that football clubs would once again have a quota imposed upon them limiting the number of players from another country in the UK squad.

Blues currently have eleven players in the first team squad who hold a passport from another EU country – Kristian Pedersen, Maxime Colin, Maikel Kieftenbeld, Jeremie Bela, Fran Villalba, Kerim Mrabti, Agustin Medina, Moha Ramos, Alvaro Gimenez, Cheick Keita, and Ivan Sunjic – not to mention two members of management staff in Pep Clotet and Paco Herrera.

Any quota would seriously impact the current squad and could have a huge impact on the way we scout new players.

It would be good to have some reassurance that the club is prepared for all contingencies.

Obviously, these are just my questions and I cannot speak for anyone else.

However, these sorts of questions are examples of how I think communication could be specifically improved in a way that reassures Blues fans without giving away sensitive financial data.

All of us fans have a passion for the club and care for its future. If communication between fans and club can become more of a discussion than a quarterly pronouncement that all’s well, then fans in turn can do more to help the club.

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