BCFC: Waiting. And Watching

9 May 2023 | 8 comments

St Andrews

Although Monday’s home defeat to Sheffield United brought the curtain down on another disappointing season overall, expectation is in the air at St. Andrew’s. Whether it’s talk of ownership change, player transfers or ground repairs, there is a lot to occupy the thoughts of Blues fans as we enter the summer months.

Matters on the field on Monday were overshadowed by the early morning announcement that deals to sell part of the club and the whole of the ground had been agreed. Subject to approval by the regulatory authorities and the shareholders of Birmingham Sports Holdings Limited, two sale and purchase agreements will see Shelby Companies Limited own 45.64% of Birmingham City PLC and all of St. Andrew’s Stadium.

Shelby Companies Limited is a subsidiary of Knighthead Annuity & Life Assurance Company, and managed by American financier, Tom Wagner. Knighthead will assume responsibility for the day to day running of the Club, alongside other stakeholders, if and when the agreements are approved.

What made this development different was that the announcement was made to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, which confirmed it was “official”. A club statement soon followed and then, shortly after that, an open letter to Blues supporters from Tom Wagner himself.

The letter from Mr Wagner can be read here.

The letter was interesting and, in the Trust’s view, potentially very significant because unlike similar offerings from others in the past…including from the club’s own Chairman…it was detailed, substantive and grounded. It did not include any rash or excitable nonsense about instant and guaranteed success on the field but, rather, set out a list of priorities designed to secure the club’s future, ensure engagement with supporters, improve standards and develop the club within the community.

It was a clear statement of intent. A vision. The beginnings of a plan. All things that supporters have been demanding for such a long time.

Of course, the proof of the pudding will be in the eating. It always is. But if, this time, the change of ownership does indeed happen and Mr Wagner and his fellow investors assume control, the Trust’s view is that there is much in the letter to offer encouragement and hope. And even a measure of excitement.

The first priority identified by Mr Wagner was a commitment to properly and openly engage with supporters, and in a manner consistent with the principles set out in the recent Fan Led Review and subsequent government White Paper. This was particularly welcome from the Trust’s perspective and very encouraging given the indifference shown by the club’s ownership and senior officials so far. Other clubs are streets ahead of where our club is on this matter, and that reflects poorly on those in control. Hopefully, that situation is about to change.

Mr Wagner’s identification of the need for additional leaders to support the transition to a successful football club is also noted and acknowledged. The Trust has long been concerned about the performance of those managing the club, even though the challenges they have faced should not be underestimated. Compliance and passivity have been far too common of late, when presence and visibility were needed to provide assurance for concerned supporters.

The commitment to improve infrastructure and grow commercial partnerships, together with the delivery of a better fan experience, is very positive. Making St. Andrew’s fit for purpose as a first step is also to be applauded. We’ll see what the details are when they emerge of course, but as a statement of intent it should give us all some confidence that the importance of the stadium is fully acknowledged by those seeking to take control.

The Trust is particularly pleased to note the determination to invest in both the men’s and women’s teams, and to do so fully within the letter and the spirit of the rules set by the EFL. This represents a refreshing change of attitude and approach.

The same has to be said about the expressed intent to help young local talent flourish and realise their ambitions. Blues supporters have always valued the emergence of players through the clubs academy programmes, and the Trust absolutely wants to see that continue. It also makes sound economic sense given the current state of professional football.

Finally, it is heartening to see recognition of the importance of the club’s role within the local community and as a force within the City too. And with strong words which identify a clear commitment to continue and indeed develop that role. In the Trust’s view this will be a crucial factor going forward.

Tom Wagner chatting to Blues Trust Chair, Cliff Horrocks

To cap things off, Mr Wagner made himself very accessible to supporters at and around the stadium on Monday. He was friendly and engaging. Again, both welcome and refreshing given what has gone on before and the difficulties Blues supporters have had in making any form of connection with the current ownership.

So, all in all, encouraging developments this week with the likely involvement of new investors. After years of neglect and under achievement, things might just be about to change. And for the better. Let us hope so. After the false dawn of 12 months ago, when expectations were raised by interest from other potential investors, it does feel different this time.

But as supporters we need to remain patient whilst the outstanding details are resolved and the deals are actually completed. If and when that happens, the Trust looks forward to welcoming all of the new parties to the club and also working with them, alongside all Blues supporters, to deliver a much brighter future. In the meantime, we should all continue to observe proceedings very closely.

Blues Trust


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  1. Peter Bates

    All good news and the report that Tom Wagner has already had talks with the efl is good ,very hopeful sign .but I have a criticism of the club from Monday this was the disgraceful attitude of the stewards at the end of the game young supporters were not allowed to see their heroes on a lap of the pitch because of the strong arm tactics of the stewards, children were visibly upset especially at the gil Merrick end of the ground where young fans were not allowed to see players because the stewards blocked them out once again in my opinion the club has treated fans with contempt I intend to write to the club and can I ask the trust to also take it up with the club kro

    • Linda Magner

      Hi Peter

      Thank you for your comments.

      Yes it’s difficult not to get excited about the potential takeover. I have constant butterflies in case anything goes wrong. its just how we Birmingham City Supporters are programmed to feel after years of being let down.

      I could see all of the security from where I sit in the Kop. There was an excessive number of stewards. I understand there were precaution’s in place due to possibilities of a pitch invasion. There would of been further repercussions from the EFL if it happened. I will as, Supporter Liaison and Membership Portfolio Holder for Blues Trust, contact the club to put yours’s and other supporter’s points of view across to them and see what they say. Linda Magner KRO

      • Simon Anderson

        Would not need the security if we weren’t cursed with idiots. What’s the charge sheet this year? Smashed facilities at Coventry and fireworks into the wheelchairs areas at both Bristol C and Sunderland? Not forgetting of course the so called supporter of the year and his bile on the pitch. Good luck liaising with the club about our cretins. You’ll need it!

  2. Gary

    Happy to see Garry Cook beside Wagner, too. A massive Bluenose from Rubery who I went to school with many moons ago. Went on to be big in Nike and became chief executive at Man City when they were taken over by Middle East investors, then UFC amongst other projects. Wonder if he had any influence in the negotiations but hope he is part of the backroom team

    • Linda Magner

      It would be amazing if Garry Cook was there in some sort of a advisory role. Fingers crossed he has a wealth of experience KRO

  3. Chris

    I know that the club is tied by ffp rules and that at this moment we’re struggling financially, But do the trust know if any new owners are allowed to put their own money in for transfers?.

  4. Mick

    At last , after probably the worst period for the club in my lifetime,the future is looking bright ! We can do our bit now by showing the new owners what it means to be a Blues fan,as the song says there will be joys and sorrows to, so whatever happens on the pitch lets keep this feelgood factor going . Raise the roof like only we can , fill the ground because this could be the opportunity we have craved . Its going to happen this time so get rid of the negativity and show our pride …KRO

  5. Tracey Tyler

    Patience is the key,it will take time to put to right the Stadium,the Team,Trading Ground etc,it’s not going to happen overnight for sure but at least we’re are on the way to a better future and that can only be good.

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