The Historical Abuse Of Blues Fans By Uncaring Owners and What Might Be Lurking At The End Of The Road

These are the thoughts of one of our members. They are the opinions of that person and not necessarily those of Blues Trust. Something to get off your chest? Do you have an idea for an article? We’d like to hear from you.

60 Years ago when I was an 11 year old kid delivering newspapers and proudly wearing my Blues scarf, an old guy in a black trench coat approached me. He smiled but shook his head and said “ Son, give them up now or they will break your heart, they have already broken mine.”  He had a point.  Now I am at the other end of my life I can only reflect upon the betrayal of us fans by useless incompetent owners who fobbed us off with second best managers and players.

Not long after I received that advice from the guy in the trench coat, a proper Blues supporter did buy the club………..

See below for ownership performance in different eras. Click on red < > arrows.

Clifford Coombs

Not long after I received that advice from the guy in the trench coat, a proper Blues supporter did buy the club.  He then paid big money for the current England centre forward Barry Bridges and not long after that, two more England centre forwards in Fred Pickering and Jimmy Greenhoff.  He tried hard to bring in Brian Clough.  Clifford Coombs loved the club and really cared about it.  He was the only decent owner in my lifetime.

Owner Score 10/10. Well done Clifford Coombs RIP

Keith Coombs

Clifford’s late son Keith took over, but he was not cut from the same cloth and there was a terrible lack of ambition and investment.  After the Francis, Latchford and Hatton side won promotion, Blues had a dodgy start in the Big League.  After Christmas however it was a different story.  Blues won more points between Christmas and the seasons end than Liverpool who became champions.  Blues had the basis of a title winning team.  Plenty of top stars at small clubs were there to be taken for peanuts.  Keith settled for second best and for my lifetime the big chance was gone.

Owner Score 5/10 Sorry Keith but you did not build on your father’s work.

Ken Wheldon

Then the abuse really started.  The next owner Ken Wheldon invented the policy of austerity and cost cutting.  The Elmdon training ground was asset stripped.  Investment in the team was non-existent.

Owner Score 2/10 No vision, no enthusiasm. Don’t know why you bothered 

The Kumar Brothers

The Kumar’s were simply a joke.  They ran the club like a market stall swop shop.  Their employee Annie Basset introduced the membership scheme with the effect of halving our gate receipts and our fan base at a stroke.  What a success that was.

Owner Score 4/10 No real strategy but we did get to a Wembley final

David Sullivan and The Gold brothers

Some reports have said that David Sullivan and The Gold brothers only cared about money and eventually selling the club for a big profit.  Would they have sold the club to Fred West if he had got more cash than Carson?  Surely people with their business acumen must have known that Carson was dodgy.  Karren Brady may probably have been more interested in her annual bonus than anything else and even introduced the away games tax.  Would we have been better off if she’d kept Pesch and sold herself to the Albion?  After Blues she soon worked the same magic at West Ham and the bubble blowers lost their beloved Upton Park.  When Kenny Cunningham said that the Birmingham City set up was soulless under their regime, it was unpleasant to hear but had the ring of truth.  They also failed to complete the rebuilding of the ground as promised.

Owner Score 6/10 No emotional connection. You lost interest and sold us out.

Carson Yeung

Carson Yeung probably did more damage than any other owner, but he did provide the money that enabled the cup win.  After the fiasco of his arrest, having to sell Ben Foster to West Brom and Scot Dann to Palace was heart breaking.  There were other high‑profile sales but those two hurt me the most.  Then came the administrators and the grossly overpaid Peter Pannu.  He was more famous for his salary and expenses than anything positive he did.  With Blues near the top of the Championship, he made Chris Hughton sell Jean Beausejour and Liam Ridgwell in the January window.  Those two were very decent players in the Championship.  Chris Hughton’s noble attempt at rescuing us was damaged.  He could see the writing on the wall.  It was inevitable that someone of his quality would not continue to work for them.  After that it was a race to the bottom.

There was some money available while in administration from Paul Suen as the drawn‑out sale to TTA developed and some was used for Che Adams.  I liked Gary Rowett in many ways but there was still tight budgeting and it was beating him.  The football the team produced in his last game against Ipswich was turgid.  Nevertheless, we were not a laughing stock.

Owner Score Carson and the Triads 4/10 – A Cup win but too many disasters

Trillion Trophy Asia

Then came Trillion Trophy Asia.  They appoint serial team manager failure Zola !!!  Now we were a laughing stock.  Then Harry Redknapp was appointed. He did such a poor job along with all the dodgy agents and technical advisors in wasting the £30 Million.  Then poor Steve Cotterill, probably a decent lower leagues coach, but by then it was a poisoned chalice.  When one half of the team earns three times as much as the other half then disaster awaits.  Cotterill although poor took all the abuse that Redknapp was more deserving of.  Gary Monk was first class and none of us will ever know the full truth of the dismissal.  I do have the opinion though, that Monk’s dismissal could have been avoided and was clumsily handled by Ren.

TTA Owner Current Score 2/10 Well meaning but shambolic. Good Money Wasted.

I have to say that a recurring theme of the club during my lifetime has been the lack of quality and entertainment.  I do not go along with the DNA theory.  We must not be satisfied by courage and a battling attitude.  The best players make the difference and especially during the last few years we have suffered in that respect.  The owners are right in wanting to give us something entertaining.  The problem is they don’t want to pay for it.

Of course, keeping Mutch, Redmond, Butland and Gray would have made a massive difference to the quality in the team.  We received £10 Million for the bunch of them.  What a scandal that is.  Why bother having an academy at soft touch BCFC.

In fairness the recruitment in the summer and since then with McEachran and Bela was not completely disastrous.  Yet everyone knows that we are crying out for a goalkeeper, striker and centre back, all of Championship quality or better.  I was not surprised when the owners spent nothing in the January window and ignored the goalkeeping problem completely.  Loans are only a temporary solution.  Letting five players leave and signing one has left us very thin in midfield options.  How can we not afford to sign a Wolves reserve player?

To be fair to Pep he has been trying to do the impossible.  When you think about it, the whole spine of his team needed refreshing before the season started.  It is not his fault that this didn’t happen.  When the management failed to replace Adams with a proper Championship striker, we all knew that we had a massive problem.  Although Morrison was not a fancy footballer, he played a very big part in the clean sheets we used to get and he scored goals.  His departure for want of an extra year on his contract was a dire mistake.  Did this have Ren’s fingerprints all over it?

How could the ground be sold and no announcement to the club’s fan base?  The sale of the ground to a BSH subsidiary company really concerns me.  The £1.2 Million annual rental from BCFC will probably go to Hong Kong.  The ground rental from Coventry City FC will also find its way to the same place.  Then just imagine the Hong Kong money men deciding to sell the club on but to retain the ground.  This may well be the plan.  If we did get promoted the BCFC ground rental would probably double overnight.  That would make the property company a very valuable asset.  This is what Venture capitalism is all about.  Perhaps a Rugby club might then come along and pay a bigger rental?  What a disaster that would be.

I have been surprised that the local journalists on WM radio have not been all over this but of course they are all obsessed by that one-man team from the other side of the expressway.  If it was their club at risk, they would be all over it.

In case this article is read by the owners please note the following.  Our money as fans is just as good as the money spent by fans at other clubs but we never get what we hope for.  We are fed up with the club buying cheap strikers who cannot do the job.  We are fed up with Ren.  We need a Chief Executive who listens.  Surely you need a CEO who stops giving you bad advice.  It would be a relief to us all if we had a CEO with a long‑standing knowledge of English football who tells us what is happening.  Currently nobody sells the owners vision of where we are going and how it will be done.  Some frank and fearless discussions with Blues Trust would be helpful; the Trust Board tell me this may be possible – let’s hope so.

So, what awaits us all at the end of the road.  That guy in the black trench coat did tell me it would be a bumpy ride, but I took no notice.  Too late for me to change; like all of you I am Blues till I die.  We are the most loyal fans in the world but the most abused.  We deserve better.


David Wade

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  1. Dougie Deans

    Can’t argue with that

    • Ian Rea

      Hi Dave,
      Thanks for sharing this very well balanced overview of the past and present situation with the Blues community. There are many who follow the Blues too young enough to fully appreciate just how long the road has been!
      As you know, I share many of your fears for our prospects and its difficult to see a favourable outcome. The Trust, as you say, will be crucial if we’re to survive and prosper, we should all do all we can to support them.
      Hope to see you at a game soon.

  2. jonathan fletcher

    the problem is we need local people [with money] we have multi millionaire fans …black sabbath ..jeff lynee ..jasper carrot…trevor francis are just a few surely someone could form a consortium and get rid of the owners..kro

    • DES

      Jonathan, sadly not a chance, the people you mentioned may have a few Mill (some of em not even Blues fans) but nowadays you need billionaires, and top business people not fans, Clifford Coombes was the best chairman, absolutely no doubt!
      Isnt it strange about the prophetic warnings! I was helping my Mom & Dad out in a second hand shop in Millward st, small heath, we had just lost to west ham away in cuip, I was upset, an old lady called Mrs Daller said to me `DONT GET INTO SUPPORTING THAT LOT< THEY BROKE MY OLD MANS HEART! THEY WILL BREAK YOURS! she was so right! Ive never quite got over Maine Rd 1975! KRO

  3. V Mark Phillips

    Absolutely spot on; I am 72 years of age!

  4. Fred Greaves

    What a cracking article. I am of the same age era and it has been a long and winding road. What has remained constant is the fabulous and totally loyal fans. I think there have been joys as well as sorrows. League Cup wins over Villa and Arsenal! Terrific players from Barry Bridges, Bob Latchford, Kenny Burns to Christopher Dugarry, not to mention the constant production of young talent, such as Jude Bellingham. What is true is the constant waste of talent, including managers, such as Jim Smith. The Kumar brothers and Carson Yeung have led to our present owners. Supporters have never had proper consideration. I feel Blues Trust have the right approach and need our support.

  5. Fred Greaves

    David is absolutely right. I am of the same era. I have to say, there have been many great players-Trevor Francis, Barry Bridges, Ken Leek, Christopher Dugarry amongst many others, as well as cracking youngsters, culminating in Jude Bellingham. A variety of managers- Jim Smith was my favourite-and some joys amidst the sorrows-League Cups and promotions. However, the one constant has been the fabulously loyal supporters, through thick and thin, who have never been given a voice through so many changes of owners : the Kumars, Carson Yeung and now the current ones. The Blues Trust needs support in trying to establish a new partnership.

    • Peter Roach

      Yes, oh for the days of Clifford Coombs. He was simply the best.
      I am approaching 79 and my dad said exactly the same as the man with a dark coat said. Needless to point out the correct nature of this warning.
      I think back to my first Blues match versus Fulham (Christmas Day Morning in the 40’s) which was a Blues reserve game. Blues won 1-0 thanks to a Cyril Trigg goal at the Tilton end. I’m pretty sure my memory of this is sound.
      Gil Merrick played and was then was then second fiddle to Wheeler !
      Blues fans deserve to be shown respect from owners which they have been deprived of for many, many years.

  6. Eddie

    So depressing,

    We’re currently points ahead of where Sir Monk had us at this point last season, If we’d have kept Monk then we would never had seen Jude play, #fact

    Sir Rowett kept asking for permission to talk to other clubs, and he’s shown his loyalty since at the other clubs he’s managed, So we were right to get rid.

    Bela and Hogan were great additions mid season this year.

    Camp is in the form of his life since being rested and is the championships leading player with over 500 appearances, so everyone else thinks he’s doing something right, He’s saved 4 pens since christmas????

    some people just want to moan and see the bad in everything.

    Just KRO and support your team. or head over Dunhelms and cross the carriageway to chuck cabbages with your like minded mates

    Just support the team and KRO

    • Mike

      Sorry Eddy, please tell Dong to clear off ASAP please and can you leave with him

      • Eddie

        they’ve spent £100m?
        We’re being penalised because they’ve spent too much, but you still want more?

  7. Andrew Paul Edwards

    Us football fans simply expect too much of owners. If you want football to be the way you talk about we need to take business and profit out of football, but that would need to be done globally because the best players here would just migrate abroad. Anyway, that’s not going to happen, so on to the article above. 1). It’s not true to say these owners don’t want to spend money, in fact, it’s their spending that got us into FFP waters in the firstplace. On record as having injected over £100m over the last 3 years 2). We did spend in the window, Hogan’s wages could be substantial. The money isn’t in transfer fees anymore, the wages are much more considerable There was an attempt to replace Adams but it didn’t work out – don’t forget we paid £1m for him until he became something much more. Hogan will be on a hefty wedge. 3). The ground thing is a concern and it seems to be happening at other clubs too. The sale of the club without the ground would only happen if the owners were in a very desperate state. They want a max ROI on their investment and clearly a football club without a ground isn’t particularly a very attractive proposition for would be buyers 4). The owners need to communicate more with us, that is true, but we are mostly ignorant to the chinese way of communicating and it may be that that is never going to change no matter how much carping and winging we do.

    • Eddie

      well said.

      I don’t really know what some people want,

      We have overspent and they want us to spend more?

      Bela is meant to be on a high wage and Hogans won’t be small and they still want more?

  8. Vin*.*

    I got the comment when I was a kid that Blues were always a good “second division team” and when we had Francis Latchford & Hatton and finally got promotion I thought we were heading for the top. Loads of sorrows and not many Joys later I realize we have always been second rate and the only thing going for us are the fans who are the lifeblood of the club. I believe there is a huge culture of respect in China and its about time our owners and board members started respecting our fans who have stood by our club all these years despite all the heart breaking failure we have endured. Keep right On

    • Andrew Paul Edwards

      Apart from not sacking good managers too soon (Rowett, Monk), what do you want from the owners that they are not giving you?

  9. Pete

    Can’t really agree about Coombs. Surely he was the owner when we sold Latchford instead of shelling out for Kendall. For me that was the end of the chance of building a championship winning side with Francis, Burns and Latchford at its heart, with Kendall running the show.

  10. Sausage n Egg

    We are owned by incompetants…rather than install people who know about football and can guide them they appoint Dong who sacks everyone who knows more than him (that could be everbody) his vision was Dong ball where we play like Real Madrid but with Spanish lower league players..he then Puts Coventry in our HOME…so meaning the pitch gets double games and becomes like a waterlogged allotment to play pure football on.You couldn’t make it up I tell you! I wouldn’t send this idiot out to buy bog roll

  11. Sid

    Sorry but this sums up a lot of Blues fans. What do you want from the owners? They have spent £100m have learnt from errors vis a viz recruitment of better younger players with sale on value. This summer we will save loads on the wage bill as deadwood gets moved on. Monk was sacked for good reasons and yes Bellingham would have left because of Monk. We have sold the ground to our own directors and the EFL have no issue with it unlike Sheffield Wednesday and Derby. Seems that because individuals like almajir have a hatred of the Chinese and is being bankrolled by alleged interested groups fans get brainwashed by him and his cronies and won’t think for themselves

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