Often Partisan

Fit and Proper

With all that has gone on at Birmingham City there has been a lot of talk about contacting the authorities with respect to the “Fit and Proper Person” test (now known as the Owners and Directors test). For obvious reasons I can’t tell people what to write if they want to contact the authorities but I thought it might be useful if I included some pointers so that letters have the maximum effect.

Who to write to:

When Carson Yeung took the test in September 2009 Birmingham City were a Premier League team. If you wish to write to somebody about that you need to contact the Premier League – their contact form is here – alternatively if you wish to write a letter to them their address is The Premier League 30 Gloucester Place London W1U 8PL

If you wish to write to somebody about the situation now, and what can be done to rectify it you need to write to the Football League. Their contact details are here and their address is Football League Operations Centre Edward VII Quay Navigation Way Preston PR2 2YF

If you want to complain about the test when Carson took it:

When Carson took the test, he had to sign a form stating that he had no unspent criminal convictions, hadn’t been involved in two football insolvencies in three years or had not been sanctioned by any sporting body – all of which he had not.

However, you can make issue of the fact Carson had been fined HK$43,000 for 14 breaches of the SDIO in 2004 in Hong Kong and whether he had declared that.

You can also ask the question if the Premier League would have been happy to sanction the takeover if they had known Carson was under investigation for money laundering. Carson was not arrested and charged with money laundering offences until 2011 but he was under investigation from 2008 – one year before he took over the club.

If you want to complain about the situation as it stands:

The Football League will confirm the test doesn’t apply to Carson as he is not a director nor a beneficial owner of 30% or more of the club, as at the time of writing Carson owns just 12.6% of BIH.

However, the Football League also has discretionary powers to act if they believe that someone is exerting influence as if they were a director and also if they believe if someone is working in concert with other shareholders to exert control as if they owned more 30% of the club.

It would be worth pointing out to the Football League that the BCFC board has on it Ryan Yeung Tsz-Tsung, the 20-year-old son of Carson and asking how independent they expect him to be from his father’s wishes. Likewise, Victor Ma Shui-cheong is the brother-in-law of Carson whilst Panos Pavlakis is engaged to a stepsister of Carson. Both were in court to see Carson be convicted and both were amongst the very few people to speak to him privately before he was taken away – are they likely to be completely independent of Carson?

Furthermore, it could be argued that Carson, who has never owned more than 28% of BIH has continuously exerted influence over BIH as if he had an absolute majority. Have the Football League received enough assurances that the board of BIH will be completely independent?

Finally, it might be worth asking the Football League if they are monitoring the situation and if they will be pursuing any extra questions with relation to Beijing Liangzhu, should they complete their purchase of 12% of the club and if they will make any additional enquiries as to whether the two directors they would be allowed to appoint to BCFC will be completely independent of and unconnected to Carson Yeung.

Most of all…

Please, keep any letters/emails clean, professional and to the point. The better written our complaints are, the more of them there are, the more pressure will be exerted. Do not give them an excuse to ignore you should you wish to contact them.

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60 Responses to “Fit and Proper”

  • JamesG says:

    with regards to the issue you highlighted yesterday as mentioned in the trial about the source of the funds to buy the club is this not something that gets looked at by whoever does these checks at the time of takeover? Could this not be another issue that could be potentially highlighted when contacting them or due to it not being definative would it be pretty much a moot point?

  • nicko says:

    spot on dan keep up the good work we will get there in the end

  • Neil Jones says:

    Email sent to Premier League, i shan’t hold my breathe for a response.

    open to comments and love to hear what others have done and if responses are forthcoming.

    To Whom it May Concern

    I am hoping some light can be shed please with regards the Fit & Proper Person/Owners & Directors Test.

    The question halve relates to the quality, depth and detail involved in this test. As i’m sure has not evaded your attention the conviction of Carson Yeung on criminal charges of money laundering this week in Hong Kong.

    This being an investigation and conviction that has direct ramifications relating to the time period and transactions involving the take over of Birmingham City who at the time were a Premier League club i like many others am left questioning how such an individual could pass what must presumably be a quite detailed and thorough investigation of any prospective owners career history and criminal background, to say the least not the toughest task in today’s technologically advanced climate.

    i make this assertion on the basis that we are talking about the biggest and most financially ‘well endowed’ league in the world and the potential for corruption and the negative effect it could have on our league being so great.

    further to these questions and observations, would i be right to assume that action will be taken to ensure that such a character of convicted criminal enterprise will never again be allowed to purchase an English Premier League club?

    I thank you in advance for entertaining and responding in to my queries and observations.

    Concerned BCFC & England Football Fan

  • Karl says:

    Hi Dan,

    Thanks for the above, I will most certainly be writing to them! As I’m not in Birmingham, can anyone confirm that Gianni Paladini was on the radio last night stating that he was still interested in buying the club?

    Dan, once again, as so many people have stated your coverage has been exceptional and I thank you for all your hard work for keeping all us Bluenoses in the loop!

    KRO

  • jack1 says:

    Under the takeover code BDO were obliged to confirm had the cash to satisfy the offer to BC Plc in 2009. Difficult for them to look into the source of the cash. BDO was also auditor and resigned as we know due to a lack of information. The judge referred to a lack of documentation. BDO should be contacted as they were in the best position to consider any ML issues either during their time as adviser and auditor or now in the light of the recent conviction. Hammonds LLP, advised Grandtop as Lawyers on the takeover who like BDO should have done diligence on CY and the other shareholders before taking them on as clients and may also be able to consider their position on any further issues which may or may not exist. BDO it appears had more access than anyone to clarify any potential ML matters. The recipients can claim it was not their client and they had no suspicions if indeed any suspicions exist or if ML was an issue.

  • Frankie says:

    I got this back from Football Association when I mailed them in January 2013.

    If you want to email I include:

    Thank you for contacting the Football Association.

    The Fit and Proper Persons Tests for the top two leagues in England are administered by the Premier League and the Football League whilst The FA administers the test for the four leagues below that level. Under the auspices of The FA’s Financial Advisory Committee (FAC), both the Premier League and the Football League drew up FAPPT’s which are, broadly speaking, similar to that of The FA’s.

    Therefore, your query should be aimed at The Football League. Please find contact details below:

    The Football League
    Edward VII Quay
    Navigation Way
    Preston
    PR2 2YF
    Tel 0844 463 1888
    Fax 0844 826 5188
    Email enquiries@football-league.co.uk
    Web http://www.football-league.co.uk

  • rhees says:

    Have already emailed the FL and out lined the general concerns
    awaiting a reply.

  • ErnieD says:

    I have a few points if you will be patient…one in particular will raise opposition from most readers.

    1. Thank you for your work on all of this, I will write to the FL, I hold no real hope but we must try.

    2. I have agreed in the past with the position that a boycott was not timely, however, I am sad to say it is the one sure way going forward to get rid of this criminal from our club. Here is my reasoning; the club has sold all it’s playing assets, as far as I am aware there is no more parachute money, tv money is tiny (especially down the bottom end) above board loans will be very hard to come by, so the major income for next year will be season tickets. Will they have the desire to stay when they don’t have any funding? Do you really want to hand over your money (over £1000 in my case) to this liar and criminal? plus Pannu?

    ….or would you rather give it to new owners? I know I would…I know this will hurt the manager and the team, but this situation requires ‘tough love’ we may have to take yet another step back before we get stronger and I would rather do that than be held hostage by the present owners. There are other ways we can show our support, turn up on match days and protest outside, attend away games etc.

    If we stand together we can send them the only message they ever understand… money! It will be painful, I have been a season ticket holder since all seating and a standing fan since 1967, I don’t want to miss blues, I don’t mind being in the lower divisions but I do mind having our club stolen from us..

    3. We had to hold our views back in the past, now he is convicted we can voice what was so obvious you can’t trust this man one inch, I have seen comments such as ‘we won the cup under him’ can you all please stop that….it’s like forgiving the person that raped you because he got you a birthday present!

    Even if you disagree let’s start the debate…now is the time to let them know you won’t renew until they go…delay no more

    • almajir says:

      1) Thanks for your kind words

      2) It’s going to be a tough decision personally. However, I don’t support the owners, I support the team – and the team need us. You are incorrect re Parachute money – we get £8mil of that next season (our last season of parachute money) – and the major income net year will be what it always is, TV income (it STILL outstrips season ticket money at this level) and Commerical income. only 1/6 of our income in the 2012/13 season was from season tickets and gate receipts – I have said this before.

      Furthermore, boycotts only work if you actually turn up at the ground and not go in. I can’t see that happening at all.

      3) It’s called balance mate – people moaned like buggery about Sullivan and Gold saying that they’d rather have anyone else, now look at us. People need to consider the cyclical nature of football club ownership – the honeymoon period, the normal period and then the staleness and moaning. For some owners it goes through that cycle quicker. I’m sure you didn’t have a bad word for Carson when we won the Carling Cup yet it wasn’t a week before it was announced he’d had to mortgage his house to keep cashflow going.

      If you want to boycott, that’s your prerogative. However, I think you need to be careful, it’s a touchy, thorny issue with both sides using emotive arguments. I’ve done the subject before on here and I’d like to remind you this isn’t a forum, it’s my blog. If you want to debate it, use a forum, please – I have neither the time nor the inclination to police comments on here as if it were a forum.

      • rhees says:

        Ive been a season ticket holder for many years, in the 80s and 90s i was in the army and flew
        back from Germany, Ireland, Greece and many other places just for the match.
        i have had enough in not going any more while criminals are pulling the strings at the club

      • ErnieD says:

        Dan,

        Thanks for the update on payments and I take your point it’s your blog, I won’t comment in future. Before I sign off if you would allow me just to correct two issues. 1. I never moaned about G and S they took over at our lowest point and were great for the club, in return we were good for them, it was a good marriage while it lasted.

        2. I never supported CY. Those reading any of the broadsheets before he took over were well aware of his background (its just a shame the PL didn’t read them). It was always going to end in tears….

        Anyway thanks for an informative blog which I will still read with great interest.

        • almajir says:

          Ernie

          I agree re Gold and Sullivan

          ref Carson – I don’t remember too many people complaining at the time.

          • Strettonbluenose says:

            “Be careful what you wish for” applies with Yeung just as much as it did with Gold and Sullivan.

            If the Football League declare that Yeung is the owner by proxy and that he is not fit and proper, what would happen then? Yeung paid £81m to Gold and Sullivan and I can’t see him walking away without getting somewhere near that back. Clearly, no one else is going to pay that much cash for the club, so how will the Football League force him out? I pretty certain they can’t strip him of ownership. However they certainly can withdraw Birmingham City’s membership of the Football League? Be careful what you wish for ………

  • chas says:

    Can I just echo Dan’s comment at the end of that very useful Blog and say, Please, keep your Posts Mature, insult free and precise.

  • woodlands says:

    Dan. Im a shareholder. Do I complain to the Financial Conduct Authority?

  • sam says:

    Brilliant template Almajir,
    Just hope enough people take effort to do it.
    It’s a bit of a ball ache but would be so powerfull if done on mass.
    Cheers

  • Chris W says:

    Thank you Dan for all the useful information to use when writing to anyone regarding the ownership and running of BCFC.
    I shall certainly put it to good use.
    KRO+DNM

  • jack1 says:

    think we all realise the word administration looms very large if not from poor performances (not LC’s fault) but from investor nervousness and brand issues. If there are reasons for this to happen better sooner than later. The National Crime Agency receive an reports of suspicions of money laundering e.g. from financial advisers who are legally bound to make reports for example BDO must report any ML they see as a regulated entity. The NCA needs to be in communication with FL and the FL with the NCA. If the FL confirm they have spoken with NCA and they have no concerns regarding any potential money laundering at BC Plc then good for the board and good for board/fans relations. Worth contacting both the FL and NCA to see if they are in touch with each other. Suggest Dan/the Trust makes these submissions so there is a clear line rather than everyone going off in different directions. Power is everything here and Dan/the Trust has a strong voice to channel efforts.

  • jack1 says:

    Woodlands think you could ask if the FCA has any concerns regarding its regulated entities involved in the takeover. They will reply probably citing confidentiality but they will act internally to ask question of say BDO. You may contact the HKSE regulator the Securities and Futures Commission regarding the lack of disclosure regarding the current fundraising (ie the deadline for the deposit expired yesterday and no update).

  • TonyE says:

    It’s a matter of record that CY appointed Pannu and agreed to pay part of his contract personally, this he was unable to do once his finances were frozen. It was then that the club became responsible for the contract in its entirety as payback on a loan received on behalf of CY from a third party. Surely this fact alone proves that CY was running the club even though his share holding was below the required threshold.

  • BarkingP says:

    I contacted the FL a couple of days ago; this appears to be the standard response that everyone will get:

    Thank you for your email. First we should clarify that at the time of Carson Yeung’s takeover of Birmingham City they were a Premier League club. We can only therefore suggest you contact The Premier League regarding this.

    The Football League’s official statement regarding Birmingham City on 3rd March stated;

    “The Football League notes the reports relating to the conviction of Carson Yeung in Hong Kong.

    “The League’s Owners’ and Directors’ test prohibits anyone that is convicted of offences involving dishonesty from owning more than 30 per cent of a member club or exercising control over a club.

    “Since the commencement of these criminal proceedings, the Club’s holding company has introduced revised arrangements to ensure that it could relist on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange and comply with Football League regulations. They include the resignation of Mr Yeung from all directorships, and the introduction of new working capital to ensure the ongoing financial viability of the group.

    “The League has been working with the Club during this period and, based on the information provided, is satisfied that Birmingham City complies with its requirements regarding ownership, as well as having funding arrangements in place until the end of the 2013/14 season, at least. At this stage, The League does not require any financial assurances beyond this point.”

    Unsurprisingly there was no response to any of the specific points I raised. I believe it is still worth everyone doing this, though. Weight of numbers will bring pressure to bear on the FL and I see no other way of moving the situation forward other than the FL putting pressure on BIHL.

  • LJ18 says:

    Re: contacting the FCA,

    Blues were never actually regulated by the FCA. They were registered for a time for their commercial activities in investments & insurances but this ended in 2002 – long before Carson took over the club.

    They may have also been a listed company on the UK Markets (which the FCA kinda regualtes along with the London Stock Exchange) but i’m pretty sure they would’ve been listed on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) which is NOT regulated by the FCA.

    BDO would be authorised by the FCA but only in terms of their investment, insurance and/or mortgage activities. Anything outside of that such as they accountancy stuff & due diligence would fall outside of the FCA’s remit. Not sure if there is a particular accountancy regulator?

    All the above means that the FCA wouldn’t be the right people to direct a letter to

  • BCFC1875 - Roger says:

    I have just sent a email to the Football League, using Dan’s template, agree with the post on getting the Trust to be the front for this, if they come up with the words we could all add our names to it
    and also put forward any questions we have, (Long list then)

    And my view is Administration needs to be the last resort.

    PS Thanks for the updates Dan, and will you be in Court on Friday.

    • almajir says:

      No I won’t.

    • Geoff Smith says:

      Just to say Blues Trust e-mailed today in response to a suggestion I sent them about a possible fans’petition to the FL. I was assured the Trust was meeting this week where they were aware of the sentiments and concerns of many Blues fans and intended discussing a number of options (nothing specific mentioned) to move things in a positive direction.

      Maybe we should also all do our bit to email/write to the bodies Daniel has suggested to register feelings and concerns about BCFC. I’m sure many will want to.

  • Mickey07 says:

    All done and dusted and sent to the p.l.and f.l….I await there replys.

  • jack1 says:

    LJ18/Woodlands: BDO Stoy Hayward Corporate Finance were regulated for the purposes of the takeover by the FSA which is now the FCA. BDO Stoy Hayward as auditors would be regulated by the ICAEW. The name has changed to BDO LLP but it is still regulated by both by the FCA and ICAEW. The UK lawyers involved on the takeover were regulated by the Law Society of England & Wales.

  • Geoff Smith says:

    What do people think of this latest claim in the “Birmingham Mail” that 86% of Blues fans want Gianni Paladini and his associates to buy the club out? How many fans were polled?
    There is surely plenty of room for skepticism here.

    Things are certainly desperate at B9 but can Paladini and his friends really be considered serious potential owners of the club?

    • steve says:

      I voted No. We need to know who is backers are first imo. I wouldn’t think he could do it on his own.

    • Chris W says:

      At the moment they appear to be the only ones mentioned by name though PP has made claims that he is negotiating with three consortiums from Britain and one from mainland China, that’s if we can believe anything PP says.
      KRO+DNM

  • Geoff Smith says:

    I’ve just had a quick look at one of the links Daniel has provided for contacting the Football league while I decide how to word my letter to them. The FL website has a recent posting where it makes clear that its Board of Directors was discussing the ownership of Leeds United but more information had to be gathered.

    If this is true, there can surely be no reason why this same body of gentlemen cannot look into the ownership of BCFC. Or have I missed something?

  • Asif ashiq says:

    I would like the football league to investigate how yeungs son who probably isnt wirth two pennys has been appointed? And also his brother in law? And the company who is meant to be buying the shares has an affliation with yeung? How with all this info can the football league still think it passes the fit and proper!

  • andy says:

    great article again, great info, just keep bombarding those letters guys, a dicky bird told me they may be taking notice, keep up the pressure

  • jack1 says:

    Is there a breach of FL rules? The FL’s rules require where the annual accounts are for a period ending before 30 November in this season (our are to 30 June 2013) and they contain a qualified audit report (ours are qualified) interim accounts must be produced for a date between 30 Nov and 1 March and these accounts must be reviewed or audited in accordance with applicable regulatory standards. It seems our interims to 31 Dec 2013 were reviewed by the audit committee of the club not the auditor. The audit committee comprises 4 Non-exec directors of the club. Is the FL suggesting an audit committee review by non-exec directors meets “applicable regulatory requirements”? An outside eye over the reports would surely be a good idea? Most stock exchanges don’t require audits of interims but who did the FL intend to conduct a review or audit of interims?

    • almajir says:

      Jack

      I suspect the FL would go along with what the HKSE are happy with – however, it would be worth putting all this together in a dossier to give to them to force them to enforce their own rules.

      If you want to help, drop me an email – almajir@oftenpartisan.co.uk

  • Shirley Blue says:

    Who in the Football League actually pulls the strings ie makes the decisions? I’m just thinking if life could be made very uncomfortable for a few individuals then things might move faster. I know the FT has been investigating but we need to get this on the back pages of the big newspapers and on national TV and radio and force the football league into justifying their position in as public domain as possible.

  • jack1 says:

    Tricky business, the FL rules of course apply to the club i.e. BC Plc. Perhaps the BC Plc interims were reviewed or audited? The published interims were those of BIHL the holding company and group which were not reviewed or audited by auditors (which is usually OK under law and regulations and for listed companies).

    PP and the FL to clarify if the BC Plc interims to 31 Dec 2013 were submitted to the Executive of the FL including a review or audit in accordance with their FL rules also was that review or audit done by an auditor? As ever nothing to suggest any wrong doing but clarification and legitimate questions to be answered.

  • mark says:

    sorry Daniel Nathan scored fantastic goal for England u21

    • rhees says:

      Does anyone know if there’s any truth in these so called interested parties pp is on about

  • Berkshire Blue says:

    Thanks Dan. Have emailed the FL a fairly detailed letter urging them to think again about the situation. I will let you know if I receive any significant reply.

  • jack1 says:

    ah the FL rules in terms of submission of financial information to the Executive apply to the “club or if applicable the Group”. The FL in their 3rd March statement refer to the club and the Group in their analysis so the FL need to consider if they believe the submitted interim accounts comply with their own rule 16.12.7. The concern, and no more than concern, is obvious, a money laundering conviction of an ex-Director who recently had dealings with the group, a previous auditor who resigned due to limitation on supply of information and the current auditor still citing a certain limitation of scope. Wouldn’t the FL want or expect an auditor to have reviewed/audited the group interims before they felt comfortable to make the statement they made?

    • Mark Sutton says:

      Jack – I’ve seen your recent posts which, to me, stand out. You’re clearly on top of all this in terms of ownership and accountancy issues. Could you help the Blues Trust out with how we (the fans) take a concerted and credible position on this? I don’t think lots of us individually airing our grievances to the FA or Football League is going to work unless it’s properly orchestrated. In my view the Trust is our way forward but they need to guide us. And they should welcome advice from people like you.

      And Blues Trust are you listening? (B25 Dave I think?)

      • Geoff Smith says:

        A very good shout, Mark.

        Blues Trust needs to forget this idea of appealing to speak with board members (because we’ve had more than enough time to know that that is simply not going to happen at St Andrew’s and the mixture of cynicism and contemptuous falsehoods trotted out by Pannu surely shows this).

        I don’t always agree with Daniel but, as an individual, he is driving himself into the ground trying to push for real answers at Blues. The Trust is an ORGANISED name and group of people to represent Blues fans so why not push them to be more high profile and start publicly insisting the appropriate authorities look into the utter scandal surrounding Blues, the real role of the now guilty Mr Yeung and how so many of his relatives magically found their way onto the board of directors?

  • BhamCityJulian says:

    What template?

  • jan says:

    A detailed letter posted,to the FL. Thank you Dan for the info,and your hard work.

  • Ray says:

    If and when we get new ownership the fans should contact the club en masse and ask for Dan to be appointed the club’s Press Officer on a good salary.. He has been our best and most well informed source of information throughout all of this tawdry affair. KRO and well done Dan!

    • AissieBlue says:

      Hey Ray; I’m a Danfan too but Press Officer? Nah, he’s far to ascerbic for that. Step one millimetre out of line and you get a Dan-bam right in the solar plexus. Press Officing is all about schmooze and schmaltzing; our dear Dan ain’t proficient at that. They must make ’em aggro in Chelmsley Wood. Brilliant investigative journo though.

    • almajir says:

      No disespect Ray but I would’t work for the club. I like the staff there and I admire many of them but it would be too close for me to work for them, I prefer to be an outsider looking in.

  • swissjonny says:

    If someone has already mentioned this then apologies but Im rushing out and didnt have time to read all the previous contributions.Surely CY was a shadow director?

  • ray says:

    Understand where you’re coming from Dan. Keep up the good work.


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