The full statement can be read at this link.
I wasn’t invited (not that I could have gone anyway as I’m currently suffering from covid). I had however been made aware of the meeting on Wednesday morning by some people who were asked to attend and wanted some ideas of questions to ask the Senior Management Team (SMT) and board who were to be there.
In honesty if I had been invited and could have attended, I’m not sure if I would have gone. There has already been some tweets about people who were invited along with the usual biscuit jokes and having been to these affairs in the past (including the infamous Dong secret meeting) I’m not comfortable with them.
These meetings do seem to create division between fans who are unhappy that they are not considered to be invited, and those who go more often than not and are more receptive to the board.
However, as I said on Twitter on Thursday evening as long as the proceedings are to be reported – especially by a non-club source – I’m not as mad as other people might be about it happening.
I don’t want to talk about what was said too much because I think it’s important for people to come to their own conclusions about the answers that the club gave, especially about the stadium.
However, the timing of the meeting surely isn’t coincidental, and it really does smack of a charm offensive to try and pacify a fanbase that is up in arms. It is better that they have finally come out with information, but the question does really need to be asked as to why this wasn’t shared months ago.
Likewise, the non-attendance of club Chief Operating Officer Lungi Macebo is not a good look; particularly as the stadium repairs were her remit. It was confirmed that the project officer for the job Michael Moran was appointed in August 2021, which indicates that he was appointed after the last time fans were brought in when Macebo assured us everything was okay.
I get that this meeting always had the potential to be fractious but if one cannot front up to it then the question has to be asked if that person can handle the responsibility of the role that they are employed in.
Likewise, while the Chairman Zhao Wenqing was referred to with respect to the appointment of a new CEO, he was not in attendance either. Zhao has not been seen much at St Andrew’s this year despite remaining in Birmingham; and while I understand the fear of catching the dreaded ‘rona, there are precautions that can be taken.
I’m not surprised that they didn’t talk about the ownership or sale of the club. While it’s important to ask these questions, the club board and SMT are not the people to ask. Hong Kong Stock Exchange regulations mean that anything that can be construed as inside information has to be communicated to shareholders first; this is something that was complained about when former CEO Ren Xuandong let slip various figures to Richard Wilford.
The truth is they were never going to answer anything about the elusive Mr King, Wang Yaohui either, for similar reasons. Acknowledging any control of the club by Wang Yaohui is going to cause huge problems for Blues with the EFL which the club do not need currently; it would also cause ructions with the HKSE.
While it’s great that once again they want to be seen as transparent, I have to admit for me personally, it no longer washes. The only time we hear from the club appears to be when their hands are forced; and information is drip fed out as minimally as possible.
This has to be done regularly – and people need to front up when things are bad as well as good.
Despite my cynicism, I’m going to make a public offer to Edward Zheng Gannan, Zhao Wenqing and Shayne Wang Yao:
Once I’m no longer self-isolating I’m willing to sit and talk at a neutral venue about the club.
As my command of Mandarin is still only about 100 words, I will bring a native Mandarin Chinese speaker so I can ask questions and get answers in a language that the directors are more comfortable with, and I will report the answers on this website in full without editorialization.
If you let me ask my own questions, I will accept that you are trying to answer me as truthfully as possible.
I’ll even get the first round in.
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