As statements go, this one is probably the most maddening for some time. I’m sure I’m not the only Blues fan who was hoping for better things with the departure of former CEO Ren Xuandong in May but this has only gone to prove that the problems at the club run much deeper.
We’ve had communication from the board throughout the summer saying the works were progressing well, and while at the recent fans forum we learned the lower tier wasn’t going to be finished for some time, we were told that the works were on track for fans to return to the upper parts of the Kop and Tilton for the Stoke home game.
The club have passed the blame on, saying that they were only told as late as Tuesday afternoon about the delay, with a fuller statement to come later on today. However, I cannot personally imagine things have gone from being 100% on target to a delay so late on.
Questions have to be asked of club COO Lungi Macebo, who has been the person within the club who has dealt with sorting out the stadium repairs and who was the person who gave the report to the fans forum on August 3rd about their progress.
I can accept that there is an argument against saying anything that could have caused panic; particularly considering the flap caused by one group’s understanding of the cashflow situation affecting the repairs.
However, there does come a point where one has to accept that honesty is required and if there was any chance of things not being finished then it should have been mentioned.
Now, the ticket office – who if you read messageboards and social media already appear to be struggling with issues – now have to deal with fans demanding a refund for matchday tickets from fans who can’t use them, having already had to deal with fans who were mad at paying £40 for the tickets in the first place. Then there are the season ticket holders to move as well – if they’ve even received them.
What’s worse, is not unlike the fateful interview Ren gave to Richard Wilford way back in February, the information that was given may have caused unneeded problems for the club and the holding company back in Hong Kong.
By confirming an amount that the repairs would cost the club at a minimum, Macebo could easily have caused the accounts side of the operation a real headache.
Birmingham Sports Holdings have just three months from the end of the financial year on June 30 to announce year-end accounts to the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong; and I’m not sure that they would have wanted such a precise figure to be announced as that now has to be clearly shown as a contingency to be paid for.
That in turn is going to add to things that make the holding company being a going concern harder to show – which in turn is not going to go down well with the Hong Kong Stock Exchange who are already watching the company.
It’s not just the HKSE who should be concerned either.
The failure to complete repairs on even just the upper parts of the stand once again raises the spectre of money issues causing problems.
It’s not a great look for Trillion Trophy Asia owner Paul Suen Cho Hung, who on Friday purchased an office block in London for £63.7million on Friday.
Suen however hasn’t put money into the holding company for some time now, and despite being the name people know as the “owner”, Suen actually doesn’t own the largest portion of the club.
For me, fingers should be pointed towards Vong Pech, who owns the largest slice of the club. When his investment vehicle Oriental Rainbow Investments bought a slice of the club there was a proviso guaranteeing that his company would cover any BSH’s share of any losses the club made within 30 days of the holding company asking for them.
If that is indeed in place one has to wonder why there is any possibility that money issues are a potential problem right now. Of course it might be that Vong Pech hasn’t got the readies to pony up right now; however that is impossible to know due to the opaque nature of Vong Pech’s ownership.
Whether it’s a lack of competence or cash, or a combination of the two, there is something clearly not right at Blues right now. That needs to change, and it needs to change rapidly otherwise it’s going to be another big dip on the ol’ Blues rollercoaster.