Completing the Jigsaw

by | 25 Jun 2018 | 5 comments

Teams work best when the members of the team understand what they should be doing, understand what all the other team members should be doing and trust each other. This is true for the Blues team on the pitch and for the wider BCFC team of owners, staff, manager, players and supporters.

I went to Hong Kong because I thought that the wider BCFC team had some gaps in understanding and trust.  The ownership structure is a bit complicated and it is hard to trust owners you don’t know much about when some previous owners have been dodgy. I hoped that going with Daniel Ivery to the owners’ home turf might fill in some of the gaps in my own understanding. It has.

I have realised what a gigantic gulf there is between Blues fans and Mr Paul Suen, the owner of Trillion Trophy Asia.  He speaks a different language, lives in a different culture and is very rich. Daniel and I saw his house, perched on a hill overlooking the sea, and it’s clearly the home of a wealthy man.  But I don’t think he’s likely to pour any of that money into BCFC.  He is a very successful business man who makes money by buying and selling businesses and he owns several. TTA shares an office with some other companies. There is nothing to suggest that Mr Suen has any special interest in football or in BCFC.

Coming to Hong Kong has also helped me to understand why it was good to come. Seeing a company’s office can tell you more than just knowing its address. For example, when we went to the office of Birmingham Sports Holdings, we had no idea of what it would be like. We found that it occupied a whole floor of the building. The reception area had the BCFC logo on the wall and also two framed Blues shirts. A screen in the seating area was showing well-known scenes of our playing history. We were also shown the room, complete with pool table and bar, where directors could watch streamed Blues games on a screen that took up most of one wall. In contrast to the BSH office, we saw another office where nobody seemed to be home. Daniel also found multiple companies using the same address as one of the companies connected to someone associated with BCFC. This could mean that the work is being done somewhere else or that someone is trying to confuse people who want to understand what is going on.

Coming to Hong Kong also meant that Daniel was able to check online sources that couldn’t be checked from Europe and meet with people who can supply valuable background information.  Daniel has written about Tobias Zuser, one of these contacts, on his site, almajir.net.

To sum up my impressions so far:

  • Mr Suen is probably not interested in football but his choice of a buyer for TTA or Birmingham Sports Holdings will affect the future of our club. That choice will be based on what’s good for his business not what’s best for the club.
  • Someone at BSH is interested in football and watches our games.
  • Coming to Hong Kong makes it possible to find out things that you couldn’t find out in Europe and to meet people who can help you understand what is going on.
  • Someone connected to the next buyer may be trying to make it hard to find out just what is going on.
  • What Daniel is doing is like doing a large and complicated jigsaw and he has found some of the missing pieces while he’s been here.

It’s not up to me to decide how Blues Trust should react to this; board members will be meeting on July 2 to discuss that. I will be recommending that we continue to do our best to find out what is going on. We need to keep asking questions:

Who will be the new owner?

When will the new owner be named officially?

Is the person named as the owner really the owner or is he a nominee there to represent the actual owner?

What steps will the EFL take to ensure that the new owner is a fit and proper person to own our club?

And I’d like to ask Blues Trust members what questions they think we should be asking. Let us know.

Margaret Decker
margaretdecker@bluestrust.org

5 Comments

  1. chris

    Isn’t one of these faceless people on the verge of taking a 10% stake in the club (re; Daniel’s site)?
    If so we need the Football League to be asking hard questions and giving them a hard time like they recently said they would do at our neighbours over their recent issues.

    Reply
  2. Tim Blues

    I must say I’m in two minds over investigative journalism, while I applaud the indepth investigations of the Chinese owners by certain individuals I wonder if the scrutiny is welcomed or a hinderance.
    All large companies spread their risk as not to have all their eggs in one basket, this is not underhand but a wise move. Investors and potential investors don’t have to be Blues fans in my mind but should be shrewd business minded people with skills in investing in companies with potential.
    If such investors seek anomimity let them have it rather than them being put off by being dragged into the spotlight. As long as the outcome for the club is positive and legal where is the problem.
    I would much rather we were owned by silent benefactors rather than the likes of publicity seeking individuals like Simon Jordan or Alan Sugar.
    I know that if I was lucky enough to be in that position I wouldn’t relish all my dirty laundry being washed in public.

    Reply
  3. Dan

    I feel compelled to give an opposing view to Tim’s. Letting the owners get on with whatever they want to do in the interests of not upsetting the apple cart would be a mistake. If they are legit, then all will be fine. They own a football club with thousands of fans so they can expect some interest in trying to gauge their motives. Sweeping it under the carpet and not caring as long as things are going smoothly is only storing up something much worse in the future. The work Dan Ivery does – and Margaret’s trip here – should be backed 100% by all of us. I for one am concerned about the future. They might make the right noises at times, but the motive of any foreign owner is highly questionable, and if they’re going to end up taking money out of the club, then the more that can be done to be sure they leave behind a stable entity rather than a stripped out shell, the better.

    Reply
    • Tim Blues

      Hi Dan,
      Mine isn’t an opposing view, I agree that there should be accountability however.
      A friend of mine was chairman of an english league club, a club close to his heart that he loved and supported all his life. He was keeping it afloat by using his own money earned through running a legitimate local business he founded 40 years earlier. He managed to sell the club just one month before he would have gone broke and lost everything!

      My point is, the days of individuals owning their own clubs and fulfilling a childhood dream have gone. New money from Russian oligarchs, Chinese or Indian super rich is the only way forward and any English clubs that don’t have the potential to eventually get and stay in the premier league are quite honestly stuffed.

      This is the issue, any individuals willing and able to buy a club for circa £100m and then invest and pay for running costs, Xia’s paying £5m a month are very few and very far between.
      I accept that we learnt a hard lesson with Young but let’s be honest when the money comes from these parts of the World it is most likely in my opinion to be a little dodgy. The very nature of such individuals and companies is that they are going to be very secretive to how and where they obtained their money.

      If there is going to be a sale, chances are it would be to yet another similar type setup and in my eyes the old adige “be careful what you wish for” applies.

      In my humble opinion if someone believes Blues have the potential to get promoted through a little investment and earns a few million in the process, good luck to them and I don’t care that I don’t know their names as long as we survive and prosper.

      Reply
  4. Eric Jones

    To keep it simple the league should understand who owns football clubs and if they operate in a legal and ethical manner. Thanks to the Trust and Daniel for keeping fans informed – and hopefully the league. The league has to try harder to scrutinise owners – did Blues not have a recent owner in prison? There is some reason to believe that some Russians may be involved in money laundering – could this be an issue with Hong Kong/China or other foreign bodies? Who knows? BUT the league should know…and they need solid information in order to protect the game we love.

    Reply

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