It’s been a few days now since Birmingham City have announced the naming rights deal agreed with Knighthead. Although touted as the largest commercial deal the club has done in its history, the deal is more than just about money. It gives us an insight into the true potential of the Tom Wagner-led ownership regime and just how big things might get.
There’s an old cliché about a week being a long time in football. It’s meant to symbolise how quickly things can change in the game and this hasn’t been typified more than the last fifty days at St Andrew’s since Shelby Companies Limited took over.
Birmingham City came down to earth with a bump on Tuesday evening following a 3-0 defeat to Burnley at Turf Moor. Victory would have seen John Eustace’s men climb to fifth in the table; however the loss means that Blues lie in 15th place at the bottom of a pack of 11 teams separated by just three points.
With any chance of a takeover happening still incredibly uncertain right now, there has been some fear among Blues fans that this will be the season Blues go under financially. The more dramatic fans on social media have seized on the idea that the owners will not fund the club if it is not sold with all the attendant crises that would cause.
It doesn’t feel like that long since the last season came to an end but already the new one is upon us. Players have returned for pre-season testing, three new signings have already been made; and potentially most importantly, Blues have finalised their backroom structure that had been ripped apart by the sacking of Aitor Karanka and his staff and the subsequent departure of former CEO Ren Xuandong.
Sunday sees Birmingham City travel to the New York Stadium to play Rotherham United in a game that could have a massive bearing on both team’s seasons. The Millers’ defeat to Coventry City on Thursday night leaves Paul Warne’s men four points from safety with just two games in hand. Blues sit six points ahead in 19th with destiny very much in their own hands.
It took a while but like the Mounties, Blues CEO Ren Xuandong got his man. Birmingham City confirmed late on Friday evening that Aitor Karanka has signed a three-year deal to be the next head coach of the club. The 46-year-old Spanish coach ends an 18 month exile from management since walking out on Nottingham Forest in January 2019.
Two denied penalties ensured Blues only came away with a 1-1 draw against Brentford on Saturday at St Andrews. The blustery conditions caused by Storm Dennis along with a pitch that is suffering somewhat ensured this match wasn’t one for the ages yet Blues held firm to extend their unbeaten run to ten games.
The last couple of weeks have seen some ups and downs as a Blues fan. The lack of business done by Blues in the transfer window was a cause of outrage for many on social media, while on the other hand Lee Camp’s recent penalty save heroics have been the source for many memes and positive vibes. Is football really this hyperbolic?
A 1-0 defeat to Leeds United on Saturday meant that Blues lie 12th in the Championship, nine points behind leaders West Bromwich Albion and five points behind sixth-placed Preston. With about a quarter of the season now gone, the big question is if Blues can mount the promotion push desired by the club’s owners.