THE MIDLANDER: Yeung takes the fun out of Birmingham's return to the top
15 August 2009 01:18
The deal to sell Birmingham City is back on again. Let's hope Alex McLeish isn't holding his breath for the release of some cash this month.
I would wager now, right now, that the keys to open the doors to the transfer market will have gone missing. Just like the old television set whose picture takes an age to warm-up, all of a sudden we can see clearly now.
But what a shame the revelation about Carson Yeung has come to light this week.
Co-incidence? Who knows? But one thing is for sure, Birmingham's chances of avoiding the drop this season have just diminished.
Two years ago, Yeung's arrival started as a distraction. It ended with the manager, Steve Bruce, leaving after promises of a new contract were not fulfilled. McLeish came in with less than a month to assess a playing squad that was big on heart but not on ability.
This time, if anything, it's worse. According to my sources, a delegation of 10 from the Far East, containing at least two new investors, looked around St Andrew's in the not-too-distant past. It is understandable that Yeung did not want to see his £15million wasted. If he could not finance the takeover, it stood to reason that he would find people that could.
Who would walk away from a £15m investment? In the meantime, Messers Sullivan and Gold have used that cash to strengthen their own positions. Ho, hum. As Del Boy Trotter might say: 'Rien a change.'
But things have changed. Yeung has shown his hand. He's had to call in re-inforcements to help fund his prospective purchase. What does that tell us? Well, unless his new pals are drinking buddies of his from down at the Hong Kong version of the Winchester club, the chances of a united board are remote.
The first sign of a difference and they will be flexing their shareholdings at one another. More distress. And, please forgive me for this next point, I was present at this particular unveiling two years ago.
Anyone who stands in front of the press corps and tells the assembled hacks that he intends to create a Chinese culinary dynasty in Birmingham must be one chopstick short of a restaurant. Has he been to the Arcadian Centre? Give them a little credit. Brummies know where to go to find a decent Chinese.
And as for the fact that he will be bringing over the best players China has to offer. Hello? Work permit, anyone? I'm afraid both he and his cohorts didn't impress me one iota. Not one jot.
For those old enough to remember, fresh-faced teenager Spencer Trethewy gave a more convincing display when Terry Wogan wheeled him out on prime time telly after he allegedly saved Aldershot almost 20 years ago. Now we come to the rub.
According to yet more well-placed sources (I'm sorry I can't be more specific. Club spin-doctors read this, too) Yeung will now be given some answers to specific financial questions. Then he will have to lodge a substantial deposit - non-refundable - to gain access to yet more financial information.
If he doesn't come up with the reddies in time, then the owners bank themselves a considerable seven-figure sum. Yeung has got a few weeks to do this. Let's say by the end of September. And by then, the transfer window will have closed.
What will happen in the meantime? Do we think that the owners will stump up another £6-8m that may help McLeish sign the two players that might make the difference in a division where there is significant distinction between the haves and have nots? Or do we think they will sit on their money? Answers on a postcard to St Andrew's, B9.
Of course, if the deal goes through, the owners ride off into the sunset with a sackful of cash, not looking behind themselves once. David Sullivan has made no secret that he can't wait for the day. As for the club they left behind, the transfer window will have closed.
The Blues will be heading into a crucial period before December with a new board, a squad that's not been adequately strengthened and chaos having reigned during the previous five weeks.
Even if the deal falls through, Blues are left trying to put together the pieces. They couldn't in 2007. What makes anyone think it will be different this time around?
McLeish's managerial reputation has been restored after promotion. That was the minimum requirement - and he delivered. But not even a mixture of the very, very best would struggle at the moment.
That's why Yeung's prospective return has been greeted with horror and criticism by the supporters. They have no particular love for Sullivan and the Golds. They respect them, possibly. But there's no genuine affection from the rank and file. No real warmth.
And when the alternative seems to be leaving them staring once more at the Championship it is little wonder that they, as well as McLeish, feels short-changed.