I suspect that many people won’t agree with everything I have said in this blog, however I hope you read it all and understand the context of what I am saying, and at the very least, appreciate that I have tried to be balanced.
The past few years have been a roller coaster for Blues fans, (nothing new you would probably quite rightly say!), after doing pretty well in the top flight and winning our first major trophy in a lifetime, things have gone a bit pear shaped since.
Firstly we were relegated from the Premier League, from a position that we SHOULD have recovered from. Mr Mcleish has to take some of the responsibility of that, although to be fair, key injuries didn’t help.
Secondly the well documented, but sadly protracted, arrest and subsequent conviction of Carson Yeung for tax offences. Although the club has NEVER been implicated, and in fact I’m pretty certain neither has BIHL, this had a huge impact on us because it stopped any investment at a time we desperately needed it.
These two events happening so close together are the main reasons, in my opinion, of where we are now. The fact that we were unable to invest in the side after relegation, the subsequent loss of the parachute payments coupled with a few imbalances with wages of certain players, caused a “perfect storm” resulting in Hughton taking a “better” job, key players leaving, and inevitable financial restructuring to keep the club afloat.
Now it is easy to throw accusations at the board, and I’m not saying they are blameless, BUT I do think these circumstances resulted in conditions that any board would find challenging. I actually think the board deserve some credit for keeping the club afloat. I don’t really subscribe to the song that CY doesn’t / didn’t care about the club, because I think he did. You only had to see the pictures of him after victories, (and defeats), to see that he did care.
After his arrest he was unable to have any input into the club, at least directly. This is where things get more difficult. Mr Pannu didn’t do a very good job. As the inevitable criticism of the board, (some justified, some not), became louder, he spent more and more time away from the club both physically and with lack of communication. Also the publicised bonuses, whether they were true or not, definitely caused huge PR damage with the Blues faithful. So his departure was for the best for for him and the club.
So with these and a couple of other changes, the board now ARE different from 2 years ago, so why are they still targets of ire from the fans? Well I think for a couple of reasons.
Firstly after indicating the club is for sale, the rumour is that the amount they want for the club – bearing in mind CY paid well over the odds – is too high for prospective buyers. This coupled with a board that is made up of people at a distance, is a real frustration to the fans, understandably too. There seems to be a lack of accountability and the distance just adds to uncertainty.
Secondly, and maybe this was related to finances, the employment of Lee Clark. When his name was mentioned I think it is fair to say the response was underwhelming, (unlike our recent employment of Gary Rowett). LC’s record was pretty appalling and the board, again understandably, have been criticised for that.
Clearly the 8-0 defeat at home to Bournemouth was the last straw for many fans who have supported the club through thin and thin, but to see that was beyond comprehension.
So the fact is, the board’s position IS untenable. WHATEVER they do from now, they won’t win the fans back that have turned on them and the only way out is for them to sell.
This brings me to the point of this blog. In my opinion, it doesn’t matter what protests are carried out, what name calling or abuse given, it will not make things move any quicker. I know there has been a call to try and get the Football League to get involved, but from previous clubs issues – Portsmouth, Leeds, Cardiff, Blackpool to name a few, the FL will NOT get involved.
Am I saying there shouldn’t be any protests? No I’m not, but I do think they are a waste of time and effort in this context. The truth is, on many forums, we have taken the micky out of other fans who have protested – because unfortunately, it does very often, look amusing to outsiders.
So what should we do as fans?
I firmly believe the best thing we can do is get behind the new manager, and the players, and focus on the pitch and get an atmosphere back at St Andrews. The last thing the new manager needs is a mixture of support and protest, even if that protest isn’t directed at him. It’s been a tough time recently, and I totally understand that many are frustrated, annoyed and feel let down – but let’s try and put that to one side for now and use this time to get behind the team.