BCFC: Victory Has A Thousand Fathers

Transfer deadline day was a curious one for Birmingham City fans. Normally, the signing of a young talent such as Tahith Chong to a long-term contract would be met with joy and seen as evidence of longer term planning from the club. However, the failure of Blues to sign a striker despite very public links from journalists has caused more aggro than it really should have.

St Andrew's taken 26 December 2018

As it turns out, Blues tried to sign no less than five strikers within 36 hours of the deadline without success.

The highest profile failure was former Sunderland forward Josh Maja, was confidently predicted by respected journalist Fabrizio Romano to follow in the footsteps of Christophe Dugarry and make the move from Girondins de Bordeaux, who are now in France’s second tier.

Whether it was Maxi Lopez tipping off Romano remains to be seen, things looked difficult as the move was denied by a Bordeaux-based journalist before Maja himself weighed in with a cryptic video on Twitter that could have been interpreted as Maja knowing nothing about the move.

By 2am on September 1, Romano was back on Twitter to confirm Maja was going nowhere and the first failure of the day was recorded.

By 11pm, Blues had tried and failed to sign Kobango Tshimanga from Chesterfield, Jordan Hugill from Norwich City, Nakhi Wells from Bristol City and in a late desperate attempt to get something done, Alfie May from Cheltenham.

Tshimanga had been an on and off transfer all day before reports that the deal was dead around 10pm due to a failed medical.

On the one hand, Blues had to be careful bearing in mind Tshimanga has not started a game since a really bad leg break in February; on the other Blues will have been well aware of this injury before making a bid and can easily be accused of leaving it too late by only making a move on deadline day.

As the Tshimanga deal hit difficulties, Blues tried for Hugill before apparently agreeing a deal for Wells only to find that the Bermudan would not take a pay cut.

By the time it was confirmed the Tshimanga deal was dead, there was not enough time to do anything and a late bid for May was easily snubbed by Cheltenham.

With Sam Cosgrove having left on loan to Plymouth and Odin Bailey having been sold to Salford that leaves Blues with just Troy Deeney, Scott Hogan and Lukas Jutkiewicz as senior forwards at the club, with only rookies Adan George and Kieran Wakefield as back up strikers.

Blues can sign free agents outside of the window if those players became free agents before the end of it, so it’s possible that the club could get another player in. Maybe Maxi Lopez can persuade his mate Diego Costa to come to Blues after all?

One thing I did want to look at was just how the club were dealing with this window.

While Birmingham Sports Holdings along with Oriental Rainbow Investments are very much still the official owners of the club, it’s the worst kept secret in football that right now the club is actually being funded and run by Paul Richardson, Maxi Lopez and Matt Southall.

It’s a bit of a messy situation – not least because it means the EFL is almost certainly turning a blind eye to it to ensure the club remains funded and viable. It begs the question – just who is making decisions on which players to sign, if there is any kind of long-term thinking involved and most importantly, where the hell the money is coming from.

There’s an old saying popularised by former US President John F Kennedy, which goes:

“Victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan.”

What JFK meant by this is that when things go well, everyone wants some of the credit for the situation; whereas when things aren’t going great no one wants to accept any of the blame.

This is definitely analogous to the current Blues takeover situation.

In the last couple of days, we’ve seen Maxi Lopez and Paul Richardson happy to pose with players the club has signed to at least offer the impression that the signing was down to them.

I can’t imagine it makes staff at the club very happy; it’s making the situation around who is running the club murkier and giving more people more ammo to criticise the way the club is being run.

I get the impression it’s annoying at least a section of the fanbase too.

I’ve raised the topic directly with Paul Richardson and he told me that he cannot talk much about the takeover and that he is in effect “gagged”.

When I countered that the photos such as pictures of new players with Lopez and himself offered the perception that he could freely talk about things, he did qualify that by saying he can’t talk about specific detail regarding the takeover.

I’ll concede that he has a point; a photo op with Tahith Chong is hardly him breaking an NDA but I do believe the perception being created is causing some division.

It’s now been seven and a half weeks since Richardson and co rocked up on the Kop car park and officially, we are no further informed of what is happening.

Part of this isn’t down to Richardson; the lack of update made by BSH to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange has hardly been helpful while Trevor Birch’s throwaway comment about paperwork on TalkSPORT did nothing to inform the situation.

It’s also worth remembering that professionalism dictates discretion in this situation; the takeover process is long and fluid and with the added complications involved there are almost certainly legal reasons why we can’t be updated with anything like a timeframe or procedural information.

However, the way the last couple of days has been handled does leave me wondering how the club is doing for money – and just how much financial reasons affected the club’s ability to do business.

We’ve known all too well the impact long expensive contracts can have on the club, particularly if a player falls out of favour or is consistently injured.

Tahith Chong is of the right sort of age to be offered a long-term deal and is almost certainly a much better bet than some of the crap that’s been negotiated under previous executives; however it is still a risk to the club and chip-pisser that I am, I want to be sure in my own mind that his contract is affordable to the club regardless of what happens with this takeover.

Practicality suggests that there has to have been some sort of agreement between the incumbent Blues board and the Richardson consortium as to what budget could be used, and that as such some sort of consensus has had to be reached on targets.

I think this is why so little money has been spent this window on transfer fees; the rumour is that even Chong’s fee is deferred to the end of the season but I’ve not got any proof that the rumour is true.

We should also take note that while players have come in, wages have been saved throughout this window by selling and loaning out players which might have allowed some wiggle room without additional funds being spent.

All of this leaves us scratching our heads trying to work out just how much investment is available from the Richardson consortium going forward, which in turn I think leaves some fans wary that this proposed takeover might be a frying pan to fire situation.

The next month I think is going to be telling; no more money can be raised from transfers and loans which means whoever is paying the bills next month has to have the cash to hand.

If everything goes swimmingly and the takeover is approved in September, I think even the cynics out there have to accept in the short term everything is okay.

Should it drag on longer, then the question will surely enter the minds of Richardson and co – how much more cash do they put in without a guarantee that they have a club of their own at the end of it all?