Awesome Ambition

10 Apr 2024

Blues held the second Open House session last night, Tuesday 9 April, with an audience of 200 invited fans. The theme for the evening was ambition. The evening was highly impressive, and if you were not able to watch it live on Blues TV it is well worth catching up with when the recording is shown, in full, on the channel.

Fixing the Club

The evening started with a review of what the new owners had done in the past year to fix the club from what they they inherited. Garry Cook admitted that when Knighthead took over the state of the club was worse than they had feared, and that since then the new owners had invested millions of pounds in bringing facilities at St. Andrew’s@Knighthead Park and the training grounds up to scratch.

Tangible examples included re-opening the lower tiers of the Kop and Tilton, new pitches at St. Andrew’s@Knighthead Park and the training facility at Henley in Arden, and the reconstruction at Wast Hills after the fire.


Although there were still elements of the club left to fix, for example the PA system which is being overhauled in the summer, the club’s attention was now turning to growth. A key thread throughout the evening was the need to grow revenue which could then be re-invested in the team within Profitability and Sustainability constraints. The club has an ambition to double its revenue from £20m in 2022/23 to over £40m in 2024/25.

To that end Knighthead are looking to invest another £15m over the coming summer. The investment will fund 22 projects to develop facilities, including various hospitality venues at different price points and new fan parks outside the Kop, with the Blues Store being re-orientated to face the new fan park, and the Main Stand. The mock ups shown for these were impressive and, with revenue already growing this year, the £40m plus target seemed achievable. If that happens as expected, it would put Blues at the top of the earners in the Championship outside those teams benefiting with parachute payments.

The Sports Quarter

The centre piece of the evening was a presentation from Tom Wagner on the development of the Sports Quarter on the old Wheels site, the acquisition of  which had been formally announced earlier in the day. Tom was a very impressive speaker, and he passionately believes in Blues and in what can be achieved by the club.

On the football side the stated ambition is to get the men’s team competitive  in the Premier League, that is established within the top ten, and likewise the women in the WSL.

Tom very much emphasised that the owners’ ambition was not just around the football club, but more widely around the city and the community. For example, where the Birmingham City Foundation has been successfully established and is already helping improve the lives of many people in our city.

The idea for the Sports Quarter had been something in the owners plan from before they took over the club, and had clearly been well researched. It is something that they have been working on for the last year. Tom strongly  emphasised that it was wider than just a new stadium, and would incorporate training facilities for the men’s and women’s teams, the academy, which would become much more easily accessible to young players and their families, and commercial, entertainment and hotel facilities.

The proposals were being designed to ensure that the development would be used 365 days a year rather than just on match days. Again, this was in line with the club’s ambition to continue to grow revenue and Tottenham’s experience of doing the same at their new stadium was evidenced.


  • Tom then hosted an open, no holds barred Q&A with Garry Cook. The session was wide ranging, and a few of the key points that arose included the following:
  • Ticket pricing. The owners made it clear that they see revenue increasing from the development of ancillary services rather than simply increasing ticket prices. They were very mindful of the current cost of living challenges;
  • Heritage. Again, the owners were mindful of building on the existing heritage of the club when the move to a new stadium eventually takes place. So parts of the existing stadium, such as the memorial bricks, and parts of the pitch will be moved to the new site. A statue of Trevor Francis is to be erected and there will be numerous events celebrating Trevor’s life over the next year;
  • Managerial changes. Perhaps not surprisingly, the issue of John Eustace’s sacking and the appointment of Wayne Rooney was raised. Whilst Tom Wagner did not go into details, it was clear that the owners recognised mistakes had been made and not changing things when they were going well was something they had learned;
  • Access to St. Andrew’s@Knighthead Park. The club acknowledges the congestion issue and feel strongly this is impacting crowds, especially at night games. It was confirmed that the issue is being carefully considered including whether part of the Wheels site, now that it has been acquired, might be used to help alleviate the problem;
  • Would relegation to League 1 impact plans? Tom was clear that they would not, although he acknowledged that it might increase the costs to Knighthead. Support across the final three home games could be crucial in helping the club avoid this possibility, and Tom appealed directly to supporters to turn up in numbers to help the team;
  • Transfer kitty. It was confirmed that whatever division the club is in next season, there will be substantial funds for player investment;
  • Commitment. It was made very clear on more than one occasion that Knighthead is in this for the long-haul.

Overall impression

The evening was wide-ranging and it is difficult to do it justice in this brief summary. However, what shone through was the seriousness of the plans that the owners have and their determination to deliver on their ambitions. Knighthead has already started putting its money into the club and its future development, and with significant levels of investment too, and the scale of ambition seemed genuinely awesome.

Neil Cottrell, Chair, Blues Trust

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