There has already been a lot of conversation about changes that need to happen on the pitch; many hot takes have been offered about which players need to move on and the security of Lee Bowyer in his position as Head Coach.
Off it however, things have gone a bit quieter.
It’s clear that the appointment of Ian Dutton as Managing Director has gone down well with fans; and to his credit Dutton has hit the ground running in his role.
As I would expect from a man who has built up excellent relationships with commercial partners, Dutton has quickly identified some of the easiest things that can be sorted out to offer quick wins, while inviting in some of the loudest voices from social media to ensure his vision of what the future could be is shared with the most sceptical.
All of that is good and I’m glad that Dutton has quickly taken on the responsibility that comes with his new role in a way that was completely absent from the previous CEO. I’ve been impressed that not only how quickly Dutton has been building a rapport with people but his understanding of just how much responsibility lies on his shoulders, whether the people above him let him do his job or not.
But with all these quick wins, the little touches to improve the matchday experience and to get the fans reinvested in the club, is the elephant in the room still there?
To try and gauge opinion, I asked on Twitter and Facebook if #BSHLOUT is still a thing.
I expected many replies to say that it was; not so much because I think all fans think that but I suspect the people who follow my social media most ardently are probably the most anti-ownership of the Blues fanbase.
Naturally, as it’s social media there were the cynical replies from people talking about fans being bought off with street food and vinyl wrap.
There were also people expressing caution as to who would buy the club based on some of the stories that had come out in the last month, with a naive few wondering why the some of the more outlandish stories out there had come to nothing.
But hang on who said survived? You did, others will say flourished. And you wanted a face you’ve got one, the truth is if we were pushing for the playoffs (which we could have been if not for injuries) you wouldn’t care who the ownership was? When we broke FFP you didn’t care?
— Ben Mountford (@Benjfordays) March 16, 2022
This reply from Ben Mountford sums up something I believe, as cynical as it is. I think many people wouldn’t care about the ownership if Blues were pushing top six; and I certainly remember many people being happy with the Harry Redknapp trolley dash without thinking of the consequences that could bring.
However, I also believe that distance has a large part to play.
With Ren Xuandong in place, there was an easy target for any protests as he was a very visible figurehead of the owners. Earlier this season Edward Zheng Gannan stepped into the limelight and when things went sour, he became an easy target. The cynical part of me thinks part of the reason for giving Ian Dutton the role of MD is to put someone who isn’t part of the inner circle into the potential firing line.
The truth is it’s hard to protest the owners because they’re so far away from Birmingham.
Whether it’s Paul Suen Cho Hung in Hong Kong, Vong Pech in Phnom Penh or the elusive Mr King aka Wang Yaohui wherever-the-hell-he-is, it’s nowhere near as easy as shouting at the boardroom windows from the Kop Car Park.
It’s also hard to be able to cogently explain what is wanted because the situation is so complex.
I doubt I could get a consensus of answers from fans on who or what needs to be protested and why – and I’m absolutely sure I couldn’t get agreement from protestors on a desired outcome other than “new owners”.
I’ve done my best in recent years to explain things but I’m well aware that at times even I’m grasping for understanding what is an incredibly convoluted situation.
If #BSHLOUT is still to be a thing, then I think it has to be more than just protests at St Andrew’s. Part of what needs to happen is that we need to unify as best as we can as a fanbase to say what we want from the club, and from the owners of it whoever they may be.
I can accept that all most people want is their seat in the ground to watch the game; football that involves Blues attacking, creating and scoring goals; and maybe a pie and a pint while all this is going on.
I can’t do that.
I’ve said it before, but I have this nagging thing inside me which demands that I try my best to act when it is needed. After 11 years of writing Often Partisan and this website, I feel a responsibility that people look to me for factual information that I need to fulfil.
As someone who wants a better football club for us all, I hope people believe I’m doing everything I can to meet that responsibility.