BCFC: The Ownership Puzzle

4 Jan 2023 | 16 comments

St Andrews

Just before Christmas the Trust published an article summarising some of the key outcomes of the recent Fans Forum held by the club, and which the Trust had attended.  A Trust member made contact following the article to suggest an update on who currently owns the club.  This seemed a very timely request given that the club itself had recently flagged up the possibility of other parties being interested in acquisition following the breakdown of the proposed investment arrangement with Paul Richardson and Maxco.

The Trust has been monitoring the ownership situation at the club for a  considerable time and, together with others, trying to make sense of the complex and convoluted arrangements that exist.

As the Trust currently understands it, the existing ownership of the club is as shown in the following diagram.  The diagram identifies those key individuals involved and their known company links:

In summary, the football club is owned by Birmingham City PLC which is the UK holding company. In turn, the holding company is largely owned by two principle shareholders, namely (i) Birmingham Sports Holdings Limited (BSHL), which owns 75% of Birmingham City PLC and (ii) Oriental Rainbow Investments (ORI) which owns 21.64%.

Birmingham Sports Holdings Limited has a number of shareholders, but there are three which are particularly significant.

Firstly a company called Trillion Trophy Asia which owns 28.12% of BSHL.  This company is controlled by Mr Paul Suen.

Secondly, a company known as Dragon Villa which owns 17.08% of BSHL. According to the Birmingham City website, this company is controlled by Mr Lei Sutong. However, in May 2022 Radio Free Asia alleged that Lei Sutong was not the actual beneficial owner of Dragon Villa.  Rather, he appeared to be “a nominee owner acting on behalf of Mr Wang [Yaohui]”, with Radio Free Asia citing a 2020 affidavit in a Singapore Court which made this clear.  This allegation is unproven and is currently the subject of an EFL investigation.

To explain this further, in some jurisdictions the shareholder may not always be the ultimate beneficial owner but, instead, a nominee shareholder holding shares on behalf of another person on a contractual basis. In this case, that other person would be the actual and ultimate beneficial owner of those shares.  This is at the heart of the allegation surrounding Wang Yaohui and Dragon Villa.

Thirdly, a company called Ever Depot which owns 23.53% of BSHL. This company is controlled by Mr Vong Pech.

Vong Pech also controls ORI which, as mentioned previously, owns 21.64% of Birmingham City PLC. ORI also owns 25% of the stadium.  The rest of the stadium is owned by Achiever Global Group Ltd which is controlled by Ms Kang Ming Ming.

It is this whole package – 21.64% of Birmingham City PLC plus 100% of the stadium – which it appears Maxco was trying to buy (with, according to them, a commitment to buy the rest of the club at a later date).

At the BSHL AGM held in Hong Kong last week, the company re-iterated that it was not actively looking to sell the club at present.  So it appears unlikely that there will be any change of ownership of the club in the near future, although it is possible that ORI’s stake could be for sale given the recent negotiations with Maxco.

So it can be seen that the ownership arrangements are indeed complex, with the involvement of so many different companies and individuals making clarity difficult.  Of course, it could be said that the situation is not helped either by a reluctance on the part of those involved to be open and accessible to supporters of the club.  And to actively engage on matters of real concern to those who hold the club dear. It is no surprise that people continue to draw their own conclusions as to why this is the case.

The Trust has long bemoaned the extremely poor communication that flows from the club and which, in itself, causes anger, frustration and concern.  Sometimes unnecessarily. The Trust will continue to push long and hard for open and transparent ownership which, at the very least, will understand the importance of engagement with the clubs supporters but which will also endeavour to invest in and build the club in a sustainable fashion.

Blues Trust


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  1. Peter Bates

    Being part of a business portfolio is never going to be good for the club.I am in no way a expert on business but it seems to me that unless all the different shareholders get together and agree to sell the club and ground as one it won’t be sold ,I’m still not sure buying a bit here and a bit more there is the way to go ,so in my humble opinion unless somebody makes a big offer for the whole thing we will stay as we are ,and then there is the listing on the hkse kro

    • Steve Harrison

      Agree with Peter Bates we need individual(s) or transparent organisation to come along and purchase the whole package, club, ground, etc.
      Is it just a dream, asking for a miracle, or are they really out there somewhere? Meanwhile KRO

  2. Stan Moye

    Very informative breakdown of who might actually own bcfc.
    But to the average fan it’s as clear as mud. Just can’t see them selling any portion of the club while there are assets to cash in on, and of course the potential sell on fee for Jude. The communication with loyal support is appalling. John Eustace has done a great job considering the parameters he’s had to work in. I know his glass is always half full, but the pr statements for me are getting a little boring. Why don’t the board just tell it us as it is, instead of keeping us very much in the dark.

  3. Ed Truman

    Fantastic summary Blues Trust. Thank you.

    What a mess though. How on earth do we cut through this for the betterment of our football club?

    Almajir made the point last week that it seems the club is no big deal in the Far East. He’s right of course, so we need to push even harder to try and change that. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Until we unite as Blues supporters and start speaking with one voice we will continue to be ignored.

    • Blues Trust

      Join Blues Trust. Help us sort out the mess!

  4. Steve

    Agree with all of the above comments. It saddens me where we are as it does IMO all Blues supporters. The owners seem content with the current situation which, is even more frustrating. How they see us BCFC as a successful business without investing is beyond belief.”My wish is that we do get owners in who care about the club, the staff & our supporters”. JE, his staff and players have done well up to now. I will continue to support them all. As Always BSHLOUT, but we need decent owners to come in.

  5. Peter Bates

    Agree with Ed we need to speak with one voice but it doesn’t matter how ticked off we are with bshl standing shouting obscenities at the directors box won’t work it hasn’t worked before and I can’t see it working .how to actually protesting in other ways comes about I wouldn’t guess , online petition maybe but must send that petition to bshl that’s about as far my thinking takes me kro

    • David Evans

      Don’t agree. The protests did work. Suddenly we had Ian Danter, Craig Gardner and Martin O’Connor publishing a monthly progress report. Then Eustace arrived, and it all stopped. The board obviously thought they’d done enough appeasement. The protests must continue. We have to make an example of our owners. We have to make it that ownership of Birmingham City FC and Birmingham City Stadium is an embarrasment, and continue with the message that the owners are demeaning to the club, are all incompetent, and an embarrasment. We must shame them into selling up.

  6. Dorsetblues

    Great update blues trust.

    I want to shout, protest and do want I can to get BSHLOUT but I’m exasperated by it all and on the verge of accepting we will always be doomed and nothing can be done.

    • Blues Trust

      Don’t give up. Join Blues Trust and help us, as the article says, push long and hard for open and transparent ownership which, at the very least, will understand the importance of engagement with the clubs supporters but which will also endeavour to invest in and build the club in a sustainable fashion.

  7. Mark R

    Many thanks for making some sense of this ownership ‘maze’ for us Blues Trust.
    It’s just our luck to have lots of owners, none of whom appear to be remotely interested in our beloved football club, or us fans.
    Apart from a Hong Kong Stock Exchange listing, why have these parties invested in the club, and more importantly, what are their plans for the football side of the business?
    They must have some desire for Blues to do well on the pitch, as this will obviously increase the value of their assets, so how do they intend to make this happen?
    I know the Chinese business culture is to ‘keep your cards close to your chest’, as it were, but this is a football club that belongs to the community, so ‘normal’ business rules should not apply!

  8. John

    Great diagram which simplifies the complex ownership into a format that everyone can understand.

    As to the question of whether all ‘owners/shareholders’ can somehow agree to initiate a sale, it should be clear that although appearing to be complex, the ownership of BSHL is controlled by only 2-3 people who are, in all probability, singing from the same song sheet.

    Instead of focusing on whether the ‘owners’ can agree on a sale, what should be questioned is why do they own BSHL and what is its purpose? For the answers to this, a closer look and investigation needs to be taken at their interests in Cambodia. BSHL has property interests in Cambodia from which it receives rental income; a relative pittance in annual turnover in comparison to BCFC.

    BSHL is/has been trying to invest in other areas on the cheap, including a small lottery company but again this has a pittance of turnover. Its ‘investment’ in BCFC far outsizes any other holdings in the BSHL group, and until the ‘owners’ can find something else in which to invest in order to replace the size/turnover of BCFC, they will have no interest in ‘releasing’ BCFC.

    As to the ‘owners’ interest(s) in Cambodia, it will need a much deeper investigation than virtually all those connected to/interested in BCFC are capable. It is those interests that, in the end, once discovered, will in all likelihood lead to the ‘owners’ demise, and possibly the demise of BCFC at least in its current form.

    Unfortunately it seems that BSHL owners are stuck; they can’t sell BCFC nor can they find a replacement in order to keep their holding company afloat, and they can’t purchase another company until they receive money from the sale of BCFC. The BSHL share price has now fallen so low that it now has to consolidate its shares in order to trade at a higher share price. (NB don’t be fooled in the near future when the BSHL share price greatly increases from its current paltry HK$0.05 – it will be the consolidation)

    Time will eventually run out for them, as it always does for their ilk, but will they smell the coffee (or other substance?) before it’s too late? Judging by other similar types that seems unlikely 🙁 KRO

    • Tracey Tyler

      Any potential buyer who wanted to make Birmingham into a Club that would be a permanent Top Flight member with good facilities and Stadium would need very deep pockets,l can’t help thinking on the day that David Gold has passed away how big a opportunity was missed when the Council turned down the plan of Gold and Sullivan to move the Ground to the old Wheels site.???

  9. Andy M

    Many thanks for the info which brings as much clarity as is humanly possible !

  10. Gary S

    It may seem too strong (and obvious) to state this in writing however, this is very typically how far Eastern investment works and how the hell the EFL allows this to happen?? Beats the hell out of me.
    Horrible thing to say however, if the EFL forced a ‘winding up’ order could we start again? We have ‘some’ infrastructure to make a fresh start, we have a good fan base and maybe there would be some UK based (except for Mike Ashley) ideally Maxco would rekindle there interest again.
    We need our club back, maybe all of this is nieve on my but we have had far too many years of this confused Web and uncertainty. 

  11. Paul G

    A good update, thx

    The diagram is really interesting and helps with the understanding of the complexities of the situation

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