Before I go further, I wanted to share some stylistic notes. Chinese names are written using the eastern naming order, which is family name first and then the given name. I use this convention when writing all Chinese names and refer to the person by their given name throughout the remainder of an article.
If a Chinese person also has a western name then I always write their name using the convention of giving their western given name first, then their family name, then their Chinese given name; again referring to them in the remainder of this article.
The most important thing to remember about the board is that they are all employees – while some might own shares in Birmingham Sports Holdings, they are shareholders in the same way I am, ie their voting power is miniscule.
Name: Zhao Wenqing
Name known by: Mr Zhao, Zhao
Based: Birmingham (currently), Beijing (normally), Phnom Penh
Zhao is the most powerful member of the current BCFC board. This is for two reasons: Firstly he is also Chairman of Birmingham Sports Holdings which means he is the most powerful employee within the whole group of companies; and secondly, he is older than the other directors which means in Chinese culture he commands respect.
Normally, Zhao would be based in China but he has been in Birmingham since January 2020 and has remained here during the pandemic. He does go to games at St Andrew’s, but not as often as other directors.
Zhao only flexes his power rarely, leaving the day-to-day stuff to the other directors.
An example of him using his power was the sacking of Aitor Karanka. It was Zhao who contacted players to find out their thoughts on the coach, and it was Zhao who overruled former CEO Ren Xuandong who clearly had no thoughts about sacking his chosen man.
Zhao is director of numerous other companies within the Birmingham Sports Holdings umbrella (which can be seen on his page on this website). His links to the elusive Mr King (Wang Yaohui) makes me think that he is Mr King’s right hand man for the BSH project.
Although Companies House lists Zhao’s nationality as British, I have recently come into information which confirms that Zhao came to the UK on a work visa rather than with a British passport.
Edward Zheng Gannan
Name: Edward Zheng Gannan
Name known by: Edward
Edward Zheng Gannan is probably the most easily identifiable member of the board since the departure of Ren. Although his twitter account is now padlocked, he does occasionally tweet and reply to fans. He’s also spoken to Blues TV on one or two occasions.
Zheng is the director with the most ties to the area. He studied at Warwick University and has been present in Birmingham longer than any of the other directors. Following the departure of Ren, I understand that Zheng is acting as CEO, although there has been no announcement as such and as such Zheng is seen at the Stadium and the training ground.
Zheng is the sole director of Birmingham City Women Football Club Limited and was formerly director of Birmingham City Stadium Ltd until the company was bought out at the start of this year.
Prior to working at Blues, Zheng was marketing director for Rolls Royce Beijing.
Shayne Wang Yao
Name: Shayne Wang Yao
Name known by: Shayne
Shayne Wang Yao is the quietest of the three directors of the club based in Birmingham. He has no social media accounts I know of and is seen so infrequently by fans he is often unrecognised in public.
Wang is based in Birmingham but has a lower profile than Zheng. He does attend every game and works at both the stadium and the training ground. Like Zheng, Wang was very vocal among the board to employ Lee Bowyer as manager following the departure of Ren.
Wang holds no other directorial positions in the UK.
However, Wang is one of two current directors of the club I have actually met in person. He is shy, unassuming and while his English isn’t perfect it’s certainly better than my 100 word Mandarin vocabulary. I don’t know much about his career prior to being employed as a director of BCFC but it’s my understanding he was an interior decorator.
Jerry Yiu Chun Kong
Name: Jerry Yiu Chun Kong
Name known by: Jerry
Based: Hong Kong
Nationality: Hong Konger
Jerry Yiu Chun Kong is the only member of the Blues board who is not based in Birmingham. He is a qualified accountant and works in Hong Kong in that capacity, not only for Blues but for other companies within the Birmingham Sports Holdings umbrella.
Unlike the three other directors, Yiu is directly connected to Trillion Trophy Asia owner Paul Suen Cho Hung and works with Suen on other listed company projects in addition to his duties with BCFC and BSH.
Because Yiu is based in Hong Kong, I do not believe he has ever visited St Andrew’s. However, I met Yiu back in 2016 when I went to Hong Kong to find Trillion Trophy Asia. Yiu was the person who was delegated to speak to me, and when I went back to Hong Kong in 2018 I understand it was Yiu who facilitated a chance for me to have a brief look around the new BSH offices.
In the coming days / weeks (depending on how much time I have and how well I feel), I intend to complete other articles about the board of directors of Birmingham Sports Holdings; shareholders in the club / BSH / Birmingham Sports Holdings and if possible the senior management team behind the scenes at the club.
People mentioned in this article
Organisations mentioned in this article