You must admire the entrance that Tom Wagner and his cohorts made today.
No hurried calls to journalists and snappers to meet at the ground with promises of exclusives on the car park.
No big tweets claiming it was all over.
I think Wagner, Jeremy Dale and pals must have learned lessons from Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds at Wrexham; because the incipient Blues owners knew the best place to get the buzz going among Blues fans was to get literally among them.
When I arrived at Bainsy’s the £1,000 tab Wagner had put behind the bar was spent, but the buzz was incredible. The idea of new owners is exciting as it is, but for them to rock up to a Blues boozer pre-game was next level.
It was a statement of intent: we’re here and we want you to believe in us.
— Daniel Ivery (@almajir) May 8, 2023
I was lucky enough to grab a pic both with Jeremy Dale and Steven Knight and to tell them both my honest opinion: That I’m excited for what they are doing not only for Blues but for the city of Birmingham.
I know there are some that are claiming to be ITK, and that they knew an announcement was coming from BSHL in the wee hours of Monday morning, but I have to be truthful and confirm that I didn’t know.
Rather than staying up refreshing the HKEx feed, I was fortunate enough to roll home after a few drinks with friends to be met with the email alert that trading in shares had been halted.
The truly ironic thing in all this is that the actual announcement from BSH confirming the deal was delayed until Tuesday Hong Kong time.
I’m not entirely sure as to why there was no announcement on Monday; maybe BSH ran out of fax paper to send it to the HKSE or the router was being troublesome and their email connection was dropping.
You can read that announcement at this link. It’s a bit of a beast and I will go into more detail on that later this week.
The Open Letter to Fans
In the short period between the confirmation of the sale and the game, Tom Wagner managed to get an open letter to fans published. If you’ve not already read it you can check it out at this link.
It’s the kind of open letter I expected; a little bit vague but still saying the things we need to hear to reassure us.
There’s talk of communication with fans; of building commercial partnerships and revenue; of improving infrastructure and the standing of the club in the city.
For me, there are two really important things I want to touch upon which I think are important from our perspective.
The first one is that my perception from this open letter (as well as the tiny bits I know about outside of what is public) is that this feels like not just an investment in the club, but in the city itself.
I get the impression that Wagner and Knighthead know that to make the club a success, they need to put into the city itself.
It sounds a little trite, but I personally believe that the fortunes of the club are wrapped up in the fortunes of the city of Birmingham – and that for the club to be successful, Wagner needs to sell the city itself to future investors, sponsors and players.
Investors need to be shown that there is mutual benefit by investing in the city; sponsors need to be convinced that Birmingham is the right place to partner with their brand and players need to be shown that Birmingham can be a good place to live, work and grow.
The other important thing I think to take from this open letter is that there is an onus on us as fans to step up.
We’ve had it hard for a while now and many of us are set in cynical and jaded ways because of the way things have been at Blues for so long.
We now have to pivot to being more positive. It’s important for us to not only say what is wrong, but to offer our feedback as to what might be right.
I think there has been a victim mentality developed as fans have become convinced that the world is out to get the club and its fans. We need to shed that as quickly as possible, because it’s a really bad look and it’s negative as hell.
Likewise, I know that fan forums have a really bad perception as being a cosy meeting place where the same old people meet for coffee and biscuits or lunch with Blues staff, with little or no positive outcomes.
That has to change.
If we’re going to have more communication – and more importantly, a bigger role in these kinds of fan forums – then it’s important that the fans who represent us do it for the right reasons.
I’d go as far as saying it’s essential that fans who go to those forums don’t do it just to build empires or to gain more access for themselves.
The next few weeks are going to be tough as we wait for the legalities to be completed.
As I’ve said previously, from the date of the announcement to the HKSE about the sale and purchase agreements, it’s a minimum of seven weeks until an EGM to sign it off, which takes us to the end of June.
This cannot be sped up; there are approvals to be sorted and they take a minimum of a month while the minimum notice for an EGM is three weeks.
This means that until the end of June, Wagner and co won’t be able to do anything at the ground. This is especially true after what happened with Maxco and we are going to have to accept that.
We also need to understand that the questions about the other 51% are going to be on ice for those seven weeks.
This part of the deal is delicate in that BSH / Shelby Companies Limited have to convince the HKSE that the deal doesn’t endanger BSH’s listing while ensuring SCL have the control they need for EFL approval.
There’s going to be loads of questions about who will be involved in running the club and where the money is coming from.
Seeing Garry Cook and Matt Alvarez with Wagner and Dale has already ignited some of those questions but I think until an announcement is made about a new board / management we have to assume that they were there in an advisory / ambassadorial type role.
It’s my intention for now to stay out of those conversations until I know I can talk about them, purely to ensure I can’t do any damage to a deal.
On a personal level, the outpouring of gratitude and praise I received on Monday was incredible.
As someone who struggles with the feelings that I’ve not done as much as I could have, I find it hard to accept compliments and I want to stress how much I appreciate the kind words of everyone.
I know that people think I’m some kind of legend, but the truth is I’ve always worked standing on the shoulders of giants.
There are innumerable people out there who have guided me, supported me and given me the courage to keep going without once taking any credit; without them I’d have failed miserably and they are owed as many thanks as I am.
I’ve been saying for a while the light at the end of the tunnel is coming. I can almost see the outline of the exit now and I’m excited for it.
I hope you are too.