Editorial: Rabbits and Hats

August has been a strange month for those of us who support Birmingham City. The month started for many with the hope that the proposed takeover of the club by Paul Richardson and Maxi Lopez would come to a quick conclusion and investment would be made in the team. As it comes to an end there’s been a palpable fear that the club would see a net outflow of players with rumours afoot of young talents being put up for sale.

St Andrew's taken 26 December 2018

With two days left of the window much seems up in the air but there have been positive signs in the last day or so; the much-touted loan signing of Hannibal Mejbri from Manchester United has been finally completed while there are rumours of former loanee Tahith Chong returning.

As of the time of writing only Ryan Woods has departed the club permanently with little talk of anyone else departing St Andrew’s. Is it just possible that things aren’t quite as bad as they seem?

Regular readers will notice that I haven’t posted a single article throughout the whole of August; while my social media feed has been more concentrated on holiday photos than anything about Blues.

I’ve stayed away from writing about the club over the last few weeks for two main reasons.

Firstly, I can’t deny that I’ve felt increasingly jaded about Birmingham City in recent times.

At 44 years old I’m too old now to get sucked into social media arguments about Blues and with such polarised opinions out there I’ve increasingly chosen silence as my favoured option as the flame wars between various sections of the fanbase have grown.

More importantly, however I’ve followed my own advice in waiting and seeing what will happen.

Sometimes, when there is nothing to say the best thing to say is nothing; as I have nothing pushing me to fill column inches I can happily take a few weeks off from writing articles to just observe what is happening.

Being 5,000 miles away in California helped to give me distance and perspective about the club in many ways and now I have returned I feel in a much better position to properly look at and talk about what is going on.

When Paul Richardson told us from the Kop car park that he thought it would take two to three weeks for his consortium’s takeover of Blues to be fully ratified, I thought that timeline was optimistic in the extreme.

Regardless of rumours surrounding the funding of his consortium, any takeover of the club was going to be difficult and would in all certainty require careful work from all parties to be ratified.

Throw in an EFL investigation into Wang Yaohui’s (aka the elusive Mr King) level of involvement in the club and it’s not hard to understand why at seven weeks after that press conference we’re no closer to officially knowing what is going on.

Officially, the club runs as normal. There has been no announcement from either the HKSE or the EFL about a takeover, while the shareholder breakdown on BCFC.com has not been updated since June 23.

Unofficially however, things are more complicated.

There have been reports that this month the club was to be funded by the Richardson / Lopez consortium and while there has been nothing official about this I have no reason to disbelieve it’s happening.

The mechanics of how Richardson and Lopez can achieve this are difficult, but it wouldn’t be hard to imagine that they’ve made some sort of loan to Birmingham Sports Holdings or even Oriental Rainbows Investments to ensure money is pumped into the club.

Regardless of how the money has been put into the club, the key is who is calling the shots.

According to the rules, only people who have been cleared by EFL via the Owners and Directors Test may exert any control over the day-to-day running of the club.

It’s my opinion that in this case the EFL may be turning a blind eye to the Richardson / Lopez consortium being involved with the club as the EFL probably want rid of BSHL and especially the Wang Yaohui issue; the Richardson / Lopez consortium taking control would help conveniently get rid of what could become a very embarrassing issue before anything public has to be done about it.


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A post shared by Maxi Lopez (@officialmaxilopez)

Therefore, I’m not surprised to see Maxi Lopez on Instagram alongside new signing Hannibal Mejbri and Blues Technical Director Craig Gardner – and why I think there has been no official objection from either Blues or BSH regarding this obvious show of influence.

If Blues can get through the window with a left back signed in addition to Mejbri (and potentially Chong), then I think that the club will have done very well, particularly as finances have been extraordinarily tight.

There is always the fear that someone will be sold to fund these additions, but I think we have to be positive until that actually happens – if it happens at all.

Past experience tells us that the busiest period of any transfer window are the last hours of it. With that in mind I think we need to be a bit more patient to see what rabbits are pulled out of what hats before we make our minds up about how we feel about the club.