Often Partisan

Ambition

Imagine the scene. You’re at a fans’ forum for your football club, talking to the clubs owners about ambition. About winning silverware. Your club hasn’t won anything since 1969 and you’d quite like to see that changed – only to be told that your club doesn’t want to try cos it’s scared if it does they will go down like Birmingham City did in 2011 after winning the League Cup. That’s exactly what Newcastle United board members told fans this week.

I’m not going to get into the debate about them belittling us; I’m a Blues fan and I’m used to fans of other clubs thinking we’re nomarks. Nor am I going to look into the whys and wherefores as to why Blues went down in 2011 – that’s been done to death. What I do want to talk about is how a club has decided that maintaining its Premier League status is the be all and end all above the idea of trying to compete much less winning a trophy. As my friend Birdy opined on twitter – the only time you should be proud of coming 17th is in an orgy.

As discussed earlier this week, the sum of money available to teams competing in the Premier League is higher than ever – Cardiff City made £62.1million last season for finishing 20th in the Premier League as opposed to the winners of today’s FA Cup Final who will win £2million for lifting that bit of silverware. Financially it’s a no-brainer; winning the FA Cup does not compare to maintaining your place on the Premier League gravy train. Football isn’t just a business though – it’s a sport. The ideal of sport is to compete and to try to win – to do the very best you can.

As a fan, it means more to have a moment like the one we Blues fans had in February 2011, when we saw our team overcome the odds and win a major showpiece final than it does to have secured another year in the Premier League after scraping enough points in the league. No one remembers that a team has finished in the top 17 in the country for ten years running bar the accountants; when you win a trophy your team’s name is etched onto it and into the record books forever.

Blues are in the throes of a takeover – and with a bit of luck we’ll have new people in boardroom very shortly. People have spoken about what they want from a new board – some people seem to only want English owners; some want people who will throw money at a “project” while others are looking for stability and growth. I can see why people would want all of that – what concerns me is that we will be in a position where we too will have to prioritise league survival over “trying” in the cups in the future. I know ambition costs money and has no guaranteed return on investment but I hope whoever does get to takeover the club realises how special that day was in 2011 and how much we’d all like to see a return to that day, and to the European trips that followed it. For all the harm that BIH have done in the last three years they were in the hotseat for those special days and I will always be thankful that they showed the ambition to bring in players who made it happen.

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45 Responses to “Ambition”

  • Kazakblue says:

    Excellent points raised Dan, I have many friends who are “Toon Crazy” and how they would love any piece of silverware.

  • Bluestaines says:

    Hi Dan, this is my first post on your site, though I have been reading for some time. Excellent stuff and I have become more and more addicted to reading your articles and posters comments. That Newcastle have come out and said this in such a brazen manner really does bring home the way in which top flight football has become uncompetitive and far too obsessed with money. The premier league is killing the game for most normal, traditional supporters who follow their teams due to their family loyalties, geographical location etc. rather than being glory hunters or because it has become trendy to follow a premier league/champions league team.

  • Roy Smith says:

    Many people on this site hark back to the Gold Sullivan era as one of stability and good book keeping that kept us solvent and was a sort of golden age for BCFC. In fact it was a period of nothingness. I began to lose my passion for attending games when it became clear that the sole aim of Blues was to give an income to G&S and to do nothing in a footballing sense, not even to stay in the Premiership if it meant spending any money. Yeung’s control may have ended in chaos and disaster but it was not his plan to cause this and In 45 years of watching Blues he gave me my only bit of football glory.
    Finally away fans couldn’t chant “You’ve never won f*** all” and that means more than any number of times ending up in 4th place in the Premiership.

    • Bluestaines says:

      I agree Roy. We may have been stable but they were only interested in running us as a business to ultimately make a huge profit out of and did so in a very cynical way which is why many fans became disillusioned. Yeung genuinely wanted to invest to try and achieve things but just did it in a very nieve and poor way and didn’t allow for the possibility we might still get relegated – which in my opinion was down to poor management by Mcleish. Of course, he also didn’t anticipate the collapse of his financial empire. We can only hope the new owners have a sensible mix of ambition and business sense (and huge wallets too)

      • Mrs Crosby says:

        Good points there. I wonder 10-15 years down the line we will think of Carson yeung more favourably? When the last 3 years have hopefully been forgotten will he be forgiven? Would Gold and Sullivan have agreed to buy Zigic? I honestly don’t believe we would have been relegated if he hadn’t got injured.

      • Fortinbras says:

        What financial empire was that? He was a money launderer.

    • bluenoserob says:

      did you not feel a sense of glory when Carter score his penalty? , or getting to the cup final when we should have beaten liverpool ?

      how about beating the villa in the prem…………

    • Auld Bertie says:

      The other thing I would personally thank the Yeung regime for is supporting the BCFC ladies and making them part of the club. The Gollivans left them to rot and had it not been for a 10k donation from one of the ladies player’s parents they’d had gone to the wall. The ladies play surprisingly good football and display great passion for the club. The 2-0 annihilation of the villa the other night was a real eye-opener for me as I’d only seen the ladies play teams from their own level before. Blues were on a completely different level to Villa and could have easily won by 6 or 7. In what has been one of the worst seasons in my 50 years supporting Blues the ladies perfomances have provided a welcome relief and my support for them is becoming more passionate especially with season tickets covering ALL home matches (league and cup) costing a paltry £30.

      • Geoff S says:

        Blues Women’s team deserve great credit. I wonder, Bertie, if you also recall a few seasons ago when they hammered their AV counterparts 9-0.

        • Auld Bertie says:

          No Geoff unfortunately I wasn’t watching the ladies then but tuesday’s scoreline could have been similar had we not hit the post THREE time and missed several other chances.

          Not long got back from watching them beat Chelsea 2-1 today, a victory that could have been bigger were it not for a superb 2nd half penalty save from the Chelsea keeper and an equally good goalline clearance which would have seen the ladies go in 2-0 up at halftime.

          Excellent game between two good teams with Chelsea including three ex-Blues ladies. Very impressed with Blues forward Kirsty Linnet today who is extremely skillful and a better footballer than some men I have seen representing Blues over the years :)

  • Chris W says:

    I lived in Newcastle for many years and was brave enough, or stupid to wear my Blues shirt into Shearers bar after we beat them 1-5, they were shocked but a friendly bunch and took it in good fun.
    The Geordie football supporter is one of the most passionate I have witnessed, they hate Ashley, but he is doing what he wants and running the club as a business.
    I would love BCFC to be the same, run as a business but not at the expense of some glory, another day at Wembley and being a winner over years of just existing in the premiership for me.
    I might get slated for saying this: “I would rather see Birmingham City competing for trophies than trying to compete with the so called big four in the premiership”.
    Trying to keep up with the Jones is foolhardy and dangerous, cut your cloth accordingly and grow slowly. this will bring success, look at Wigan, Everton and now Hull. I can see Man U being in even more financial turmoil this season, Leicester reckon they have to spend £180 million to compete, but what happens if they fail.
    Blues should have speculated the first season they were relegated, just as QPR have. Instead Carson panicked and sold all the players without replacing them.
    I still say that the players should be made to spend at least the first transfer window with the club they got relegated and on a wage structure for that league instead of jumping ship.
    KRO+DNM

  • DoctorD says:

    Sadly, the fear of falling through the relegation trap-door is so great that clubs will do anything to stay in the top division. It will continue like this until the money in the game is more evenly handed out. I don’t like the Newcastle board’s stance, but can quite understand it. Maybe there should be some complex formula whereby a club’s income from TV deals and final placing in the division is reduced by the net amount they spend on players. That way big clubs’ income is reined in – they can’t just make ever more money by hoovering up the top players.

    • Chris W says:

      I like the idea of the player /tv ratio monies being levelled out, and a fairer allocation of money sharing. I would also like to see more money sent down the line to grass roots and school football.
      Forget a new division, take the money off the fat cats and give it where it can do the most good. If the TV money went into local schools in the areas of the Premiership clubs for the development of sport, not just football, we would soon see an increase in home grown talent. It could even take the Academies away from the clubs and becoming independent.
      I am sure there is a footballing think tank with experts who can work this out
      KRO+DNM

      • DoctorD says:

        Unfortunately, football basically consists of businesses competing against each other these days so they why would they do anything that didn’t line their own pockets? TV should show a lot more live games from lower divisions – that would quickly perk up interest.

      • bluenoserob says:

        you have some good and noble ideas Chris . only none of them will ever happen .The TV moneys are so vast cos the world wants to watch MAN U v Liverpool , Most paying fans from around the work dont even care about Hull or Swansea or the like , so the lower leagues done even get a look in, only the top teams .Those top teams have all the power and how will that change in the near future? The gap will only get bigger.

        The premier league will tell you that they pump 40m or so every year into grass roots football , we may both agree that isnt enough , but its still a lot of money.

        i think that one day we will see a super league of europe , that may level the field for the teams left behind , but most likely in a negitve way.

        • Chris W says:

          A super league will happen one day, I am sure of it, as you say will will be a negative and the top dogs will still want to control the Premiership.
          We all have decent ideas as to how to change, some definitely for the better and worth exploring, unfortunately the fat cats at the FA don’t look at the wider picture but are the first to say that home grown talent isn’t good enough.
          KRO+DNM

          • smudge says:

            Happen to think that the super league is already happening. The way that the champions league is taking shape it wont be too long before those teams are complaining about playing to many games and will want to opt out of the domestic leagues. Inevitably the money will follow them and the rest of football wil only watch with envy

          • Chris W says:

            Do you think the rest of the leagues would envy such a breakaway, I don’t. Maybe initially, but then the playing field will become level and I think they would flourish given the opportunity.
            KRO+DNM

  • John Hill says:

    The fact is that only the top five or six clubs in the Premiership, have any chance of winning the title, probably for the next 20 years. The reason for this is, because they are so far ahead of every other club, financially. Leicester are saying they need to spend £180 million to compete, they probably need to spend that amount to stay in the division. To get into the top four it will need double that and an exceptional manager, as well ! Apart from the top six, unless one of the other clubs is lucky enough to have someone plough vast amounts of money into their club, the only chance of winning anything is the F.A. or League Cup. Wolves have shown though, that most supporters will go and watch a winning team, whatever division your team is in.

  • bluenoserob says:

    Dan which would you choose ? , 15 years of 12th to 15th place in the prem or one year in the prem with a trophy then a repeat of the last three years? .call me a coward but im think i might choose the first.

    • Tebily says:

      The second one. Every time.

    • Tom says:

      The second. All day. Any day. I’ve lost count of Blues’ relegation and promotions, I couldn’t tell you which years we were in the lofty heights of the premier league. But I can tell you where I was 27th Feb 2011. There is nothing in the world that could compare to the joys of the cup final goal, the winner in Brugge, and @ 93mins Vs Bolton. For all the pain and heartache of relegation, the joys (when they do come along) far outweigh it. Why sell our souls, when we can be a real football club. 12-15th in the prem for a life time? If I wanted such mediocrity and soulessness, I’d support a team in claret and blue. Keep right on… there will be joys and sorrows too!

      • mark says:

        That’s right Tom, that’s why supporting the blues cannot be for fickle fans, the emotions, the angry, disappointment, tears, the happy days……all part of been a bluenose…..if anyone has not felt these emotions they are along long way from been a bluenose………..

    • OftenPartisan says:

      The second one EVERY SINGLE TIME.

      • bluenoserob says:

        i guess i asked for it , but i dont like it said that im not a proper fan , i was there against watford and Barnsley , at wembly and at cardiff and when that enckelman lifted his foot over the ball.So i have seen the bad days and good close up like the rest of you .

        if blues is a club that can only be supported by die hard fans , where will we be in 15 years , i dont think that many kids today who can choose between any team to support are going to flock to us.

        i think its easier to take option 2 now as things are starting to look up , if there was no buyout and administration followed it could have been 10 years of this not 3 .im not the only one who has been dragged down by the last season or two im sure.

  • SeanBCFC says:

    I would like it if the club had stability, like we was under Gold and Sullivan, under them we were a mid-table premier league side for nearly for years, and when it went wrong is when they tried to do what the fans wanted, which was to get into Europe and it got thrown back at them and the players didn’t want to play. All we need is someone who will invest in the club to get us back to the top end of the championship and then contest for promotion.

  • Brian Kenwrick says:

    If yeungs plans came to fruition and we didnt get relegated I reckon right now we would be increasing our fan base in china/hong kong etc and we would be seeing money flood into the club as a result of tapping into such a lucrative market.
    We would no doubt be also seeing the team challenging to be in the top half of the division season on season..
    Fantastic dreams and wonderful ambition from Yeung but as we know it was a bodged job from start to finish.

  • Roy Smith says:

    The Championship has the 5th highest average gates in Europe, so there is obviously a hunger for football beyond the Premiership. Perhaps it is time to tell the big boys to get lost and go and form the European Super league they are obviously after and let the fans of proper clubs have a more equal playing field, paying sensible ticket prices with players on realistic wages and some of the profits ploughed back into better conditions for fans. How long before Man Ure and the the Russians are sick of coming mid table without their guaranteed trophy every season?

    • DoctorD says:

      Roy, that’s what I’ve said several times here before. Let the top six bog off and play all season against their pals across Europe. Then we’d have a top division that someone else might have a chance of winning. Even we might stand a chance one day then.

      • RichardM says:

        Here bloody here, we’re totally on the same wavelength. Wave them all off from the quayside with a tear-stained hanky, but with the understanding that once they’re gone they can never come back. We’ll see how quickly the Malaysian TV fans get bored watching Man Utd v Barcelona for the fourth time in 6 months, and how quickly Sky, BT and all the other parasites lose interest….

  • mark says:

    I look at league cup and have the biggest smile……..

  • Colin Carberry says:

    That’s odd. I seem to remember Newcastle getting relegated a few seasons ago, without the distraction of winning a trophy.

    • Geoff S says:

      Colin.

      Good shout. Perhaps Newcastle went down that season without belittling another club.

  • bkkblue says:

    I do think it’s possible to demonstrate ambition without risking bankruptcy. I also think some of our fans give Yeung too much credit for winning the cup. Looking at our starting XI for that final, most of them were signed by Sullivan/Gold.

    Carr, Jiranek, Ferguson, Fahey and Bowyer cost us virtually nothing; Foster, Johnson, Ridgewell, Larsson and Gardner were all sensibly priced purchases that we got our money back from when sold, which leaves only Zigic as an expensive gamble, and had he been given a contract with a relegation wage-cut, then I suspect he would have been successfully sold soon after we went down.

    The team that won the cup for us WASN’T a Portsmouth style team full of England internationals, and this is backed up by the fact that even without new investment we are now more or less debt free.

    Of course if you spend a fortune on obvious wastes of space such as Hleb, Bentley and Pannu; and sign a shirt sponsorship deal which actually costs you money then you’re going to run into problems sooner or later.

  • Raymondo says:

    Money, foreign players and long contracts have been the ruination of football in this country for more than one reason. I remember a certain well known Blues striker of yesteryear saying to me in the interval when he was reporting on a Blues match for a local radio station and a certain player we had just signed missed yet another chance. that the player didn’t need to worry because he had a four year contract. When the ex player played he only had one year contracts and if he didn’t put the ball in the net regularly he wouldn’t get a contract for next season. Long contracts are now the norm. In addition, the obscene amount of money offered these days by Premier clubs is why so many of our young English players don’t get a chance of first team experience over the huge influx of foreign players into the Premier League. What we need is a change to the way the American Soccer League is run with a cap on wages, a cap on transfer fees, and a limit on foreign players. Only then will there be fairness in English football. Having “B” leagues is shortsighted F A nonsense. If you want good young English players in our England team the develop them in our own Premiership teams not in a stupid “B” league.

  • Art says:

    The team we have at the moment will be woefully short of any success and yes it will need an injection of money but we also need a manager who can get us out of this division and then make progress in the premiership.Cant see the club achieving this in under 3 seasons and we really must change the current management.

  • mark says:

    Is getting your old players back like rw a step in the right direction?

    • Harry says:

      Mutch , Redmond , Gardener and a pairing up of Dann and Johnson again for a start ?!

      • mark says:

        forget mutch he is welsh through and through firstly redmond and gardener absolutely no problems them coming back Harry………..
        if they both wanted too…… mind you…..its all about the money…
        just a quick bit of gossip coby nathan’s brother just signed for us methink he plays striker…..would nathan come back given the chance of course he would he would run from Norwich to Blues in a shot………

      • Chris W says:

        As good as that day was at Wembley and they will all go down in BCFC folklore at the end of the day they also took us down without too much effort and were quick to jump ship.
        Rebuild for me, and thank them for the great day out.
        KRO+DNM

  • nuneatim says:

    Another great afternoon watching the Blues Ladies, so, yes, the Yeung regime does deserve credit for investing in a women’s team we can be very proud of. But that’s it. Nothing else. Not the rebuilt St Andrews, not getting us into the premiership and building a team that finished midtable playing some attractive football, certainly not the greatest day in our history, achieved under a manager appointed by Brady. Goodbye, and good riddance.

  • Ivor Linton says:

    Couldn’t agree more Dan well said

  • RichardM says:

    Dan – not sure how you see this as Newcastle “belittling” Blues?

  • Geoff S says:

    Richard.

    I don’t know if anything was mentioned by Newcastle about Wigan. Didn’t the latter win the FA Cup and get relegated from the Premier League at the end of the 2012-13 season? Just a thought.


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