The news all Birmingham fans have expected and have been waiting for finally arrived this week. Owner Carson Yeung was found guilty of five charges of money laundering in Hong Kong and could now face 14 years in prison.
Since he was arrested in June 2011, all financial assets have been frozen meaning the club has constantly struggled to simply survive. Names such as Jack Butland, Nathan Redmond, Jordon Mutch, Curtis Davies and Jean Beausejour were sold cheaply just to keep the club afloat. Sadly the Carling Cup 2011 winners currently lie 17th in the Championship with a team made up of unwanted free agents and young loanees.
A return to the Premier League doesn’t even seem a consideration for the foreseeable future, with rumours the club only has finances to complete the current season.
The true extent of Birmingham’s crisis is now being revealed through Yeung’s court case and the future of the club is worryingly uncertain. However, one of the most appalling elements of the whole episode is the response from football’s governing organisations.
The Premier League’s ‘fit and proper person’ test has proved a complete failure as they allowed the businessman to buy the club in 2009.
Yeung ridiculously claimed he had made his millions from hairdressing and gambling and that was good enough for football’s clueless chiefs. We have seen shambolic owners able to keep on taking control of clubs despite the test so surely the process needs to be scrutinised and improved immediately.
Weeks before being found guilty, Yeung resigned as Birmingham City’s chairman yet two family members were appointed to the board. Despite Yeung no longer being on the board, other board members now include his 18-year-old son, his brother-in-law, future brother-in-law and right-hand man Peter Pannu.
Regardless of this, the Football League yesterday disgracefully judged that Carson Yeung no longer had any influence on the board resulting in them taking no action. Consequently, from his prison cell, Yeung will remain the biggest shareholder with immediate links to the club’s decision makers.
For the Football League to suggest they are comfortable with this is shameful and a slap in the face for all Birmingham fans.
The Football League have the power to intervene in this disarray and bar the ownership of any control over the club. It has been clear to everyone, but them, that these owners are not proper and never have been.
It is a outrage what have been allowed to happen to Birmingham and I hope it is never allowed to happen to any other club. With no intervention from the Football League, Carson Yeung has been able to ruin the club and ridicule the suffering fans. Although Yeung will now go to prison, it appears this scandalous chapter is a long way from being over with an appeal from him potentially taking years to process.
The desperate plea from Birmingham fans is for the club to be sold immediately. With the current board, there is no positive future in sight and the anger inside St Andrews will only spiral out of control. The process of examining football club owners is clearly ineffective and the response is purely worthless.
The passion and support Birmingham fans have for the club will never go away but whilst this nightmare is allowed to continue, the frustration, fury and misery will continue.