As situations go, it’s not good enough. While the club have marginally improved on letting people know that the stands won’t be ready before games, there has been no apology and no information when things are likely to improve.
From speaking to some fans, refunds have not yet been processed for the Stoke game back on August 14, and for those fans who have been moved into lesser seats there will be no refund for the difference despite nearly a quarter of home fixtures being played without seats being properly available.
I’m not a season ticket holder so I’m in no position to complain; I was lucky enough to get a decent ticket for the one game this season I’ve been able to go to (Preston at home) but I can’t ignore the long-standing season ticket holders who have told me that they have felt alienated to the point where they are considering the value of having a season ticket.
Lack of information
Back at the end of August I wrote to Birmingham Sports Holdings (in my capacity as a shareholder) and Birmingham City Council (via the Freedom of Information Act) to ask for more information on what has gone on.
The responses have not been helpful.
The response from BSH told me politely if they had anything to announce, they’d announce it to the Stock Exchange in the normal way.
I did get a response from the Council, albeit to the Freedom of Information Act request I made back in January; the speed of which to me says I can expect an answer to my further questions about Safety Advisory Group meetings sometime in April next year.
The only useful thing that the Council told me was that I was mistaken in my belief that the stands were shut after a Council inspection; rather the club did their own annual survey and reported the problems to the Council.
Now I could be all official and send a message to Dale Moon in his role as Media Manager at Birmingham City to try and find out more but I’m doubtful I’d get any kind of response that meant anything.
Knowing that this website is both read by people at the club and by people in Hong Kong, I figure I’m better off saying out loud what I want to know and why in the hope that it rattles someone enough to do something.
What is going on?
Had things been resolved quickly back in August, I think I’d have been much more relaxed in asking what exactly had gone wrong. After all, if it was something that could be cleared up with the minimum of fuss, why would we need to know?
The longer this has gone on however, the more I think the club needs to explain why it’s dragged on.
It might be the case that a lack of access means that the club still do not know the full extent of the problems with the stands. If this is the case, would it hurt the club to tell us that this is an issue?
However, I think the time has come for some transparency about that. I can understand why fans are scratching their heads at boxes and the director’s area being in use while the Kop upper isn’t; if it’s just a problem with egress into the lower area why is it taking so long to block that area off as it has been in the Tilton?
What worries me is that it’s as much a money problem as it is anything else; either the ability or the willingness to spend money to fix this problem.
I really would like the club to reassure fans that the ability and willingness to spend money on the repairs is there.
I’ve long had the impression that in past times repair work might have been put off as board members looked to make cost savings and I have now seen some material evidence that might well have been the case.
I’m not expecting an admission of mea culpa from the board because I know it’s not going to come.
It would be nice however if there was an understanding from both them and senior members of backroom staff at the club that toxicity is brewing because of the current situation.
While that might not erupt into mass protest, the apathy generated could make the economic situation for the club more difficult for the season ahead – and that benefits no one.