The Board – a hypothesis

Now, before I start, I know that what I’m about to put forward will be contentious and is in some respects a generous interpretation of events.

However, Blues have had our best year since 2011/12 and that hasn’t happened by accident.

So, with things looking so positive, I wanted to stand back from the received wisdom about the way the club has been run and ask a controversial question – i.e. “taking things in the round, have our current owners taken us forward?”

When we think of  our current owners we all  understandably focus on the decisions that haven’t gone so well. Zola x 2  (hiring & not firing); Redknapp (the 2nd time); some poor and very expensive signings (Nsue, Kieta, Frei, Jenkinson, N’Doye); the size of our 2017/18 financial losses and the associated “FFP” problems. It’s fair to say that for most supporters the odd error of judgement will be forgiven (e.g. Zigic’s wages) but over the last 2½ seasons we’ve had to endure more than our fair share.

However, despite all this let’s be controversial and recognise that there have been some positives. In no particular order:

  1. Firing Rowett. Very contentious then, still rankles with some fans now. A very big, brave and high-risk call. But with hindsight there’s growing acceptance that it was the right one. To be fair, he did an excellent job sorting out Clark’s mess and got a very limited squad to hugely over-perform. But he was failing to move us on and allegedly lacked commitment. A good call by our owners.
  2. Having some vision. Now bear with me here. The Zola appointment was partly about PR and brand, partly about “sexy-football”. After showing early signs of promise, it failed quickly and miserably. The execution was terrible but the concept and the vision weren’t. A bit more luck in the first 4 or 5 games and who knows what might have been…..
  3. Harry (the first time). Perhaps born out of desperation and met with much derision when it was announced, it worked. Brilliantly.
  4. Investment. I’m not sure we’ve ever been on such an ambitious spending spree as we did in summer 2017. Carson’s only really significant signings were Zigic & Foster. Gold and Sullivan backed their managers consistently relatively well but never went OTT like TTA did that summer. Whether going OTT is good or bad remains a moot point, but the fact is they put their money up and went for it in a way we’ve never seen before.
  5. Dean, Colin, Pederson, Jota, Juke and Vassell. All arrived as a result of the board’s investment.
  6. A better (but still not brilliant) financial outlook. Hard to be sure of the details, but this season’s wage bill has been significantly reduced and the ongoing goalkeeper situation proves that there is a determination to cut it further. On a fag-packet (and somewhere on SHA some time ago) I estimated that the wages of our current playing squad are in the region of £17M a year. This would be about 80% of turnover – a huge improvement on last season and not too far from where it should be. Now it may be that this hasn’t been the board’s doing and has been mandated by the EFL as part of our FFP restrictions. Nonetheless it does appear that the board have been trying (perhaps a little belatedly) to stay within the FFP limits and didn’t ignore them entirely (unlike QPR did and Villa appear about to).
  7. Saved the best ’til last. Garry Monk. I don’t recall us having a better manager and I’ve been going since Jim Smith was in charge!

I’m not saying we should all change our view and suddenly start believing that this board is wonderful. Their financial decisions and player recruitment strategy in the summer of 2017 are of particular concern as they jeopardise the club itself, never mind any FFP sanctions we might get. But what I am saying is that there’s a flip-side. Are we better than we were in autumn 2016? Yes. We have a far stronger squad & manager and genuine positivity about our league chances.

Only time will tell whether the financial gamble’s been worth it and whether our newly found prudence will endure, but for the time-being let’s at least give a tiny bit of credit where it’s due and enjoy the on-field improvement while it lasts.


Alex Hurley

A few months ago we launched a fan engagement exercise in the form of a survey. A link is here to the introductory article, “Blueprint 2025“.  The Trust wants to ask you, the loyal supporters, to help us shape a vision for Blues fit for 2025 and our 150th Anniversary year.  Click on the image or here to complete the survey.

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  1. Steve Peacock

    IMO- I agree we have moved forward especially with the Appointment of Gary Monk and his staff. KRO

  2. rob cammerer

    very good read and I agree 100%

  3. Mark

    I tend to agree with most but you can never sugar coat Rowett going and I am not sure about the derision when Harry came, most fans were over the moon.

  4. Mike McCarthy

    Some of that makes sense but you totally lost me when you tried to make out that anything about the Zola decision was correct.

  5. Roy Smith

    Always made me laugh when I read comments from fans complaining about the owners lack of commitment at a time when we were being punished for having overspent.

    Overall I agree, one or two errors have been made, possibly down to a lack of understanding of the way English football works, but generally they have done pretty well.

    On a different point I disagree with your comment about Sullivan and Gold’s financial support, they gave nothing like the amount of cash they have injected from the first moment in charge at West Ham.

  6. Alan Watton

    Great article. Can’t quite understand that Zola started encouragingly ? Complete cock up in first game against Brighton and took 12 games to win and another 12 to win number 2. Personally I was always against Redknapp being offered the job. He crippled financially every club he’s been to and lined his pockets in the process. Rowett has always been a chancer and was when he played for us. His recent career path proves that. Our biggest problem now is having to pay win bonuses !! Happy New Year to all who call them selves BLUE!

  7. Mike

    I have been going since 1960 and I do feel Monk is the best manager we have had , all things considered but This ffp shambles hanging over us is a disgrace.
    Redknapps tenure was a real crap appt and his disregard for blues money was also shameful and we seem to be being punished for it now.
    If any club wishes to spend money thats their business !! If they go under then thats their business also !!!

  8. Davidjames

    We are on course for the top flight ….We are financially sounder ..and if the GDP PEOPLE act on blue attempts to wrong there rights the leniency should prevail ….

  9. Eric Jones

    Disagree with 1 – silly decision as was Zola, but good review – only because we have Monk and co. here now it is easy to be positive. Not sure about owners getting rid of good staff though?

  10. Chris

    All pretty much on point. Just wondering now why four members of staff have left the club. This is the second time this has happened now and I wonder if it has anything to do with scapegoating people in order to satisfy the odiots at the efl. Having this hanging over our heads and still being the most together team in the league shows something good Is there. I just don’t wanna see the proverbial Apple cart rocked any more than it should be.

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