BCFC: Redundancies

The Birmingham Mail reported on Sunday morning the departures of various staff from the club in a new round of redundancies. The departures from the backroom staff include Head of Media Colin Tattum, First Team PA Rita Greenaway and PA to the Board Suzanne Smith. While things on the pitch have improved so much, are things so positive behind the scenes?

Birmingham City FC

Redundancies are an unfortunate fact of life during times of economic struggle and the coronavirus pandemic has causes football clubs in all parts of the pyramid financial issues. Although the club have been keen to impress on fans that everything is okay, the accounts produced by the holding company at the end of September paint a very different picture.

Indeed, part of the reasoning for the recent proposed partial sale of BCFC by BSH is to create another stream of funding for the club, away from the holding company. That partial sale is still to be approved by shareholders with a circular due out by Friday outlining how that will be decided.

What concerns me is that I don’t think that money is the only motivation for making cuts. There are hints of something darker, of more personal motives being at play.

While there have been some rumours online that Tattum has been let go due to being a source for leaked information, I’m 100% sure those rumours are unfounded.

In fact, I’d go as far to say that Tattum has been the exact opposite of being a mole. In my dealings with him he has never strayed from the club line. He was always vociferous in refuting rumours that I had heard with respect to the club and consistent in his responses.

While it’s true that I have personally clashed with Tattum a fair bit over the past few years, I’ve also maintained that he has tried to do his best by the club and that his presence there has hopefully meant an ameliorating influence on the Blues CEO Ren Xuandong.

Whatever one thinks of him, Tattum is a dyed in the wool Blues fan and I believe that as one of us he has tried to offer Ren options that would be better for the both the club and the fans.

Indeed, one of the factors that seems common in all of the recent layoffs is that the people involved are also fans of the club – and it’s this fact which is most concerning to me.

They are the people who would potentially have offered a dissenting opinion when required if they thought it was in the best interests of the club itself. I feel that these kinds of people are vital, as they are the sense check for the people at the top and I believe that any leader who cannot take a dissenting opinion is a poor one.

We’ve already seen Ren push out a whole senior management team after a major difference of opinion. In 2018, Financial Director Roger Lloyd, Financial Controller Garry Moore, Chief Coordinating Officer Jo Allsopp and Club Secretary Julia Shelton all left the club following a row with Ren.

Since then, other senior staff have departed the club including Roger Lloyd’s erstwhile replacement Asif Khawaja, with one case potentially heading for a tribunal hearing.

Most departures have seemingly ended with a payoff and a non-disclosure agreement.

I have no doubt that those who leave this time will be offered a payoff to sign an NDA, which will ensure that any rumours of the reasons surrounding their departure will remain just as rumours.
I can’t argue with anyone accepting a payoff either; in these times of financial uncertainty losing one’s job is going to be horrible and having a sum of money in the bank will help to ease some of the more immediate financial issues that a person could face.

Right now is one of the most difficult times we are going through as a society; lives are uncertain and there is a general feeling of anxiety and depression.

Sport is one of our escapes; football allows us to forget about the worries of our lives for 90 minutes and instead concentrate our anger and frustration on more prosaic things like the bounce of the ball or the decisions of the ref.

The appointment of Aitor Karanka has brought the feelgood factor back to the club, and after a difficult start the results are going the right way. The last thing the club needs right now is for personal agendas off the field to jeopardise what has the potential to be long overdue progress on it.