During the second half of the session at St Andrews, we talked about the current club financial situation, transfers and of course, ownership.
Finance in the club
Information with regards to the current financial situation was provided by Mark Smith (Chief Finance Officer). Mark confirmed that the club are in a substantially better state than a few years ago and that work is still ongoing, especially around salaries. It was at this stage that Craig Gardner explained that in terms of salaries the club are still in the top half of the table.
Mark also confirmed that the bankrolling of the club will continue under the current owners and that each day he is speaking to his equivalents at BHSL in China. Each month everything asked for is being paid and the owners are willing to spend on players if they are deemed to be the right fit for the club and also as long as we remain within the constraints of P&S (Profit and Sustainability) rules. Mark was also asked whether the club was for sale and a categoric no was given and he reaffirmed that the owners will continue to support.
Transfers and recruitment
Craig Gardner talked through the pressures that he is up against due to previous poor recruitment. A question was asked about salaries and Craig confirmed that salaries are high but are an area being worked on. Craig was also keen to emphasise that there is no blame on the players because it is not their fault as it was what they were offered at the time under a previous management team.
Craig was asked what was happening with players who have contracts finishing at the end of the season. He confirmed that new contract offers have been made to a couple of players and these were still being negotiated. He was also keen to make clear that the new contracts were under the clubs new terms and do differ to what was originally offered.
In regards to new players, Craig was very open and as reported, will not be looking to bring in players who are over 30 and wanting multi-year contracts with high salaries. The recruitment drive now is for young eager players who would be able to cope with the rigours of Championship football at a physical level. Craig did also say that if Lee Bowyer wanted a player aged 30+ who was a loan or wanted just a 12-18 month deal then this would be considered again under our terms.
Craig was questioned by fans and the media regarding recruitment and whether he had scouts around him. Craig confirmed that there were scouts however not as many as he would love in a perfect world. Craig explained that with his footballing background and extensive contacts within clubs, he is certain he could discuss players without causing concern. Its fair to say that Craig’s recruitment so far has been great with the incoming players all having opportunities, Craig was quick though to state he is still learning and that mistakes are going to made and as he learns from those mistakes then, I believe we will be fine.
Overall I was impressed with the way Craig Gardner handled the questions on recruitment and you could see the passion for blues oozing through his veins.
Further transfer information can be seen within the Brian Dick article Its not happening for the Birmingham Mail
The meeting for me was a step in the right direction for the future and an opportunity to talk openly with fans. Cynically, this could all have been in place due to the demonstrations planned but we cant deny it is a start. Now the board, the management team and the owners need to continue with the improved communication. They need to follow up on the actions taken and they need to listen to us the fans, as without us, the club does not exist.
Here’s looking forward to the next installments and improvements within the club.