Editorial: The Day We Waited For

At 4pm Hong Kong time (9am BST) in a small conference room in a non-descript office block attached to a shopping mall in Admiralty, Hong Kong a vote will be called which will ratify the transfer of control of Birmingham City Football Club to Shelby Companies Limited. While the vote is a foregone conclusion, what happens next is a blank canvas.

Pre Match St Andrews

Sun is shinin’ in the sky
There ain’t a cloud in sight
It’s stopped rainin’ everybody’s in the play
And don’t you know
It’s a beautiful new day, hey hey

The actual weather in Birmingham on Thursday might not comply with Jeff Lynne’s lyrics but have no doubt, this is the day we were waiting for as Blues fans.

I know that many fans felt for a long time that there was no escape from the travails that had befallen the club barring the dreaded “A” word.

The close entwining of the club and the Hong Kong holding company had many wondering if the club could ever be sold while BSH remained on the main board of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange; which when coupled with the value BSH put on their stock market listing made escape look almost impossible.

Just six months ago I sat in the same room that the EGM will be held in today and was told to my face that BSH had no intention of selling the club.

However, half a year is a long time in football.

As the regulatory net appears to close in on Wang Yaohui aka the elusive Mr King, all of a sudden the wind changed and BSH decided that they were actually ready to do a deal.

That change of heart coupled with the hard work of lawyers and accountants working on behalf of Tom Wagner and SCL mean that we get to pop the champagne corks today and drink to new beginnings.

While I expect to hear something from Wagner today, I think it’s going to take a little while for all of the plans for the future to come out.

Part of that is down to good PR sense; why blurt out all your good news in one go when you can drip feed it over a period of time and keep people engaged and interested?

Part of it is down to the paperwork that will still need to be done.

Filings will have to be made to Companies House to confirm the change of directors at the club for a start; I’m sure other essential bits of administration will need to be done to tidy up the loose ends of the old regime and start the new one afresh.

As greedy as we are for the good news, it will do us some good to wait for each chunk to arrive.

Spreading out the details of how the club will change will help us as fans to take each bit in and understand how things will fit together in the long term.

For example, while fans might be disappointed the kit release has been held back, it makes sense to do the job properly so that SCL can show us how they attracted the kind of sponsorship that will help take the club to the next level financially.

Likewise, I expect we’ll see more about short term plans for the improvements to St Andrews rather than promises of a move to Birmingham Wheels.

The screenshot shared on Twitter on Wednesday about a possible move was a case in point of how it’s important for us to wait for the whole story.

Too many people have jumped to conclusions about what is essentially a bit of speculation on an industry-specific news aggregator, meaning people are once again going to have to take time out to let people down gently from their wild extrapolations.

Right now, St Andrew’s has to be our focus and I think we’ll see news not only of the repair work being done but also improvements being made to the ground to help make it a more pleasant place to watch football.

As much as fans have suffered due to the building works, it’s also important for Blues to make the stadium a more desirable place for potential commercial partners to want to do business. If Blues are to get themselves out of this wretched profit and sustainability cycle of losses, it’s imperative that the club maximises the potential of what it can earn.

More than that, I think Wagner understands the connection with the city that has to be rebuilt. For too long the club and the local authorities have struggled to get on and it’s only by collaborating with entities like Birmingham City Council and the West Midlands Combined Authority that Blues are going to become a force for good in the area.

That in turn gives us a club that we can be proud of; something I think we’ve lacked for decades.

Today also marks a milestone for me and for this website. The change in ownership feels like a good time for me to take a step back from covering things about the club, finances and ownership.

Like any habit, it’s going to be hard to give up writing about Birmingham City on a frequent basis and I’m not quite sure if I’m ready to give it up completely.

However, I think it’s really important that other people are given space to come to the fore to report on the next chapter of the club’s history. I’m also conscious that as a middle-aged man I’m going to struggle to find and reach the next generation of fans – and that the way to reach them might not be a website any more.

Most of all, I’m very aware that fame and fortune are fleeting, and that while I have achieved much in the last few years it’s now history and it’s time to move on from those days.

I’ll be around and about both the ground and the city on Thursday to celebrate the change that is happening.

I hope that wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, you too have the time to feel excited about the future.

Hey you with the pretty face
Welcome to the human race
A celebration, Mr. Blue Sky’s up there waitin’
And today is the day we’ve waited for