Often Partisan

By The Book

On this day one year ago, Lee Clark experimented with probably one of the craziest team selections I’ve ever seen. It was a balanced team – five outfield players were right-footed, five were left-footed; however, three quarters of the defence were playing out of their normal position and the result was inevitable; within half an hour we were three down and by half-time it was four.

I’m sure there are some of you out there who like me use the “Timehop” app to see what they were doing on this day in years previous. I scanned through it this morning to see the arguments I had with Clark’s defenders on twitter and the sheer abject horror at the team foisted upon us – and the stories of friends who turned tail and went home by the time the ref blew for half-time.

At the time I think many of us had given up hope – I certainly had. I remember having backed Blues to go down at 14-1 and by this point I was very much believing it might be possible. Blues lay just outside of the dropzone on goal difference having played one game less. We contrived to stay up picking up just one point from our final three games following this one – which as everyone knows was the dramatic draw at Bolton – and I think many of us wondered how much worse it was going to get.

I don’t need to talk about the difference in the team this year – that much is obvious. What did cross my mind though was how much one change made last autumn has effected the trajectory of the club. How the removal of one person has made the club a less toxic place and how it’s given us hope that we may be on an upward trajectory for the forseeable future.

Before you say it, I’m not referring to Clark. As bad as Clark was as a manager, another change had to happen for Clark realistically to be given the boot – the removal of Peter Pannu from power at Birmingham City. During that horrendous run in April 2014, there were worries about Blues being relegated and the new director on the block, Panos Pavlakis, decided something needed to be done. Clark got wind that his P45 was close and complained to the club’s “acting chairman”, Peter Pannu, who vetoed it.

Weirdly enough, as Pannu’s influence waned in Birmingham, so did Clark’s grip on the job. Pannu went on October 1; Clark followed him out of the door nineteen days later.

It’s not just on the pitch where the lack of influence from the former policeman and barrister has improved things. This time last year, there were some serious negotiations ongoing for the sale of the club between Pannu and a couple of parties. Yet once a bid was announced to the stock exchange, it all fell apart as the HKSE started asking awkward questions directly relating to Pannu’s consultancy agreement with BIH and the audit saga of 2012.

We’re back in a situation now where there are bids for the club – and I can see the same cynicism that the bids are merely an invention to get people to invest in season tickets. Yet without the seemingly malign influence of Pannu, I have more confidence that it will get done. It’s been slow progress – but much of this is due to the receivers Ernst and Young doing things by the book. There is an insistence on doing things in such a way that there will be no comeback, no appeal – that once the deed is done, it won’t be undone by someone complaining to the courts that they were unfairly dealt with.

When Clark finally did go, it was at the end of a exercise in showing his accountability for results and having put him into a position where he was asked to achieve targets. We need to have faith that this same trust in accountability and procedure will allow the next phase in the rebirth of Blues to take place.

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36 Responses to “By The Book”

  • Blue n bad says:

    Yes Dan i`m one of those cynics who believe the emergence of potential buyers has been published to encourage season ticket sales. Can E & Y sell the club without Mr Yeung`s say so because last time i looked he was still the major shareholder with no desire to leave.

    • almajir says:

      Mate – there is nothing I can say that’s going to convince you otherwise so I’m not going to try.

      • Blue n bad says:

        I did ask a legitimate question though. Can they sell the club without CY`s consent? Do you know the answer to that? If they have that power then i may be more optimistic.

        • almajir says:

          It’s a legitimate question I’ve answered before. They need shareholder approval to sell the club… however, that doesn’t mean Carson will block it. Anyone who claims to know what Carson is thinking is assuming things – I think sometimes even he’s not sure himself.

          • blue n bad says:

            That`s the answer i expected. Nothing i`ve seen or heard has suggested he wants to sell up.Let`s face it he`s had chances before. This is why i`m not too excited about offers or interest because without a willing seller it means nothing. If the club was officially on the market then i`d be more assured in believing ownership will change but i`m a little doubtful as it stands. Maybe E & Y can unearth something and pressure him into going.

          • almajir says:

            And as I said, there is nothing I can say that would convince you.

            The club has “officially been on the market” for some time – I know for an absolute fact that bids were solicited for the club. But still people choose not to believe it.

            C’est la vie.

    • chris says:

      He’s a major shareholder not majority shareholder

  • Tony E says:

    Perhaps I am just a pessimist, but I greatly fear that CY’s conviction is deemed unsafe and a retrial ordered. CY is released pending the retrial, he resumes control of BIH and reinstates Pannu at the club and we then get bled dry paying his contracts, consultancy fees, expenses etc. Please tell me this is not going to happen and that E and Y have his measure.

  • Mickey07 says:

    Good blog dan,should our friend be a tad nervous awaiting these figures?skeletons and all that.

    • almajir says:


      How many times – do not get your hopes up. Those sorts of investigations take months if not years to finish. Carson came under investigation in 2008, was arrested in 2011.

  • Art says:

    They were dark days Dan and thankfully Clark and Pannu disappeared off the scene.

    It just goes to show what can happen when a decent manager who actually works to a strategy and implements a game plan takes over.

    Sadly some other club will now have to suffer under Clark but thankfully it’s not us. In the meantime he will continue to work,continue to fail and he will continue to take the money.

    It could only happen in football!

  • Shinnie's coiffed barnet says:

    Another fantastic article Dan, insightful and balanced as ever and a thoroughly enjoyable read.

    Interesting line about Clark complaining to Pannu r.e his imminent sacking. I, and many other uninformed noses, hadn’t heard about that and I like how you keep us in the loop by subtly including these goings-on in your articles unlike mainstream media which either do not know this information or choose not to write about it.

    In short, you clearly know a lot more information about BCFC than most and are careful about which information you release into the public domain because as history shows you can never be quite sure about who might be reading your blog, fair play to ya!


  • StaffsBlue says:

    Yes, E&Y are doing things by the book and yes (probably) there are bidders showing an interest…. if Blues fans knew for certain that the club would be sold in the near future, I’m sure no one would mind waiting a few more months for it all to be done on the level.

    But the Spectre of Doom (CY) is still hovering in the background. His release could bring the whole pack of cards tumbling down again. So, I’ll keep any optimism on the back burner for now I think.

    • blue n bad says:

      Totally agree with that. Too many questions are unanswered to get overly-optimistic. What happens if CY gets out on appeal, are any of the so-called offers acceptable,does he really want to sell,could PP move back into situ and put a dampener on things? i hope we are sold to creditable people asap but until it happens i`ll also be wary of getting too excited by it.

  • Jaffa says:

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.The football under Clark was awful.How he still has a job in football is beyond me and as for that Pannu well the less said the better.

  • Bluepenguin76 says:

    It’s been a great year in my opinion.

    We’ve managed to rid ourselves of Clark! A great scout, undoubtedly (let’s be honest) but a motivator?, a tactician? or a leader?? Never! Thank God he left and that Panos had the balls Pannu never did!

    Look at us a year on. A great young manager, who has turned the club around, bought a new sense of enthusiasm and put a bounce in our steps.

    I’ll be honest I reckon if Rowett has the opportunity to sign Kiernan, Tesche , Fabrini and maybe a forward to compliment Donaldson, we have may have outside chance of a top ten slot next season!

    I agree with you Dan maybe things are turning for us. Look at last year and look at us now? Things seem to be changing, slowly, slowly.

    Hopefully we will rid ourselves of Carsen and gain new investment. If we have the same upturn off the pitch next year, as we have had on it this…we will be flying again.

    I’m actually looking forward to pre season this year

    • Bluepenguin76 says:

      Also my misses is quitting her Saturday job in August (after 4 years) ,Ive had to look after my kids on saturday since then (just took in the midweek games,) bring on the season ticket again!!!!!

      reasons to be cheerful!!

  • Oldbluenose says:

    Daniel;, as E+Y, are to report to the HKSE, an interim report on Year ending 31st Dec 2014, financial report, [ though un-audited,] Would that give us an insight into our likely outlook of expectations for next seasons team planning for Gary Rowett,?.

  • Bubbs says:

    Great piece Dan,those days under LC i used to look on my phone at the team selection in the Emerald before K.O and we would still toddle down there,
    we were back in there before half-time :)
    I am a little concerned in the possibility that Derby might be looking for a new coach in the summer & where that might leave us.

  • Bluedad says:

    Always look on the bright side of life.
    Only my opinion but I believe that this time next year :-
    CY will still be in the slammer
    GR will still be manager, Blues mid table.
    all of us bluenoses will be waiting with anticipation to see how much money the new owners will be injecting into the club in close season.
    I have looked into my crystal balls :-)

  • Bluenosesol says:

    You can tell we are much better than last year – Nearly May and no one is calling for season ticket boycotts!!

  • Alfboy says:

    Even if CY gets out on appeal, I’m not sure he could easily oust E&Y. They are court appointed, it would be another legal battle for CY to remove them. In that process, it would be very interesting to see what comes out in the accounts that so many auditors have declined signing up to. Could he be headed straight back inside for financial malpractice?

    • StaffsBlue says:

      I think it will also be interesting to know how long E&Y will be in charge of things. Things are going ok atm, but what about when they’ve gone? Will that be before CY’s appeal, or after?

  • iang says:

    Whatever happened to Mark and ‘The Voice of Reason’ and their mad defence of Clark and the wonders he was doing for the club! Thank goodness there is some light now at the end of a long tunnel, fingers crossed Derby don’t come calling for Rowett in the summer.

    My question is why did Pannu want to defend Clark so much and keep him in position ? was that his pride at play that he couldn’t be seen to have made a wrong appointment?

    • Bluepenguin76 says:

      I do think their defence of Clarky wasnt without some substance Iang.He did have a tough job,still obviously not impossible! It became stupid to defend him at the end! Clearly out of his depth. Thank God for Panos!!

    • DoctorD says:

      Good question — I can only assume Pannu wanted a manager (Clark) who wouldn’t complain, letting him go about his “business” with minimal interference. Plus Clark was Pannu’s appointment and I’m sure Pannu didn’t want to admit he’d got it wrong.

    • BhamCityJulian says:

      After the Carling Cup Final that got odds of 1000/1 we’d be in the Conference within 10 years. Clark was cricial for that.

  • andy says:

    Lee Clark must be the only manager to have built 3 different teams in one season, not his fault mind, he was forced to and to be fair he bought in some decent players who have contributed to the clubs incredible turn around under Gary Rowett. Unfortunately for Clark, Blackpool fans want him out, it seems management is not for him does it?

  • Psmith says:

    GR to move to Derby? If he does he will be giving up the chance to show that he can be more than an ordinary manager and instead might become one who is credited with building a team which plays football with a GR identity. Surely as a young talented professional this should be his dream.

  • Tony says:

    God I find this absolutely incredible, still they defend him, a man who had no idea what to do as a football manager, a man who knew he was inept but still carried on taking the money.
    That team selection Dan referred to will long live-in the mind, he was a charlatan a man barely holding on to sanity, a man more at home down the pit of his native area.
    Thank god hes gone, there were only a handful of us at the start saying he was hopeless after a couple of years it was only the demented Mark, and TVR who still supported him, and still they remain these misguided reasonable people as far as I’m concerned they can join him at Blackpool and the next side he manages to con the chairman into giving him A job, I will never forgive him for what he done Nothumberland colliery would be foolish to employ him.
    Now Dan has brought something else to ligh,t he heard he was near the sack so he appealed to Pannu who intervened can you believe it whare was the mans pride?.

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