Both Birmingham City and Hong Kong parent company Birmingham Sports Holdings released statements on Wednesday confirming the end to negotiations with Maxco Capital Ltd. Both of the statements made took a somewhat “bitter ex” theme, with the wording suggesting it was incumbent owners who terminated talks rather than Maxco.
News broke on Friday afternoon that 136 days after holding a conference on the Kop Car Park to tell fans the deal was done, Paul Richardson and Maxi Lopez have pulled out from their attempt to buy Birmingham City.
It’s now been over eight weeks since Blues fans were told in a Birmingham Mail / Mirror report that the takeover was “close”. Despite being told in an announcement to the HKSE three weeks ago that Vong Pech had agreed to sell his share and a “deadline” being given by Bassini of June 30, as Blues fans we still await any official confirmation that any deal has been done.
It’s been just over a week now since the HKSE announcement from Birmingham Sports Holdings confirming that Vong Pech had agreed to sell the 21.64% stake in Birmingham City plc that he owns. Since then there’s been a fair few newspaper articles, a radio interview complete with wild promises and potentially libellous accusations – but nothing of any actual official value. What’s going on?
Despite the best efforts of Millwall fans to storm the Kop on Saturday, I think the biggest Birmingham City news over the last few days has been rumours of the club being sold. While rumours of buyers making bids are always out there, this bit of gossip seemed to gain life of its own online.
Birmingham City crashed out of the FA Cup with barely a whimper on Saturday, losing 1-0 to League One side Plymouth Argyle. The final result might say that the Pilgrims won after extra time but the sad fact is a 4-0 scoreline in 90 minutes would not have flattered them. Yet the worst part of it all seems to be the number of Blues fans (including myself) who were just resigned to defeat and numb to the pain.
One of the most complex things to understand about Birmingham City is just who owns the club. While the simple answer would be to point to the Hong Kong listed company Birmingham Sports Holdings, the ownership of that company is opaque due to the number of investment vehicles incorporated in the British Virgin Islands who own stakes in the company. Throw into the mix people owning stakes in the club directly and you’ve got a mess.
It’s a bipolar existence being a Birmingham City fan sometimes. On the pitch things look much improved and on Saturday the team scored five goals in the league for the first time in nearly six years in a thumping 5-0 win over Luton. Off the pitch, the rumour mill is in overdrive with whispers of financial meltdown doing the rounds in a vacuum of information.
On Friday, I published a lengthy article outlining just how tangled a web the ownership of Birmingham City FC is. In this article I am concentrating on new shareholders in the club Oriental Rainbow Investments Ltd – and why their investment is indicative of issues the club faces.
The recent partial sale of Birmingham City to investment vehicle Oriental Rainbow Investments along with the recent share subscription completed by Birmingham Sports Holdings has complicated the question of who actually owns the club a little bit further. As the structure of the ownership of the club becomes more Byzantine, it’s become increasingly difficult for fans to understand.