Often Partisan

Securing St Andrews

One of the frequent questions I see amidst this current period of woe for Birmingham City asks if the current board can sell St Andrews. The ground, which has been home to Blues since Boxing Day 1906 is one of the few remaining assets that the club can call as its own and I think it’s understandable that fans are worried it could be sold.

From the last information I have to hand, there is a small debt still secured on the land to HSBC, but that debt pales in significance to the value of St Andrews and thus it’s my understanding that it wouldn’t be that hard for the board to pay off the outstanding charge to sell the ground. However, I am not an accountant so I will confess that I may have that wrong – but I will work under the hypothetical situation that the ground is indeed possible to sell.

The question then becomes what can Blues fans do to stop anything like that from happening. I’ve seen a lot of talk of protest and boycott over the last couple of days and whilst I can understand the reasoning behind both I don’t think it will cause any positive change at any pace at all. However, I do not wish to be seen as someone who is telling people what to do and thus I would like to present an option as an additional method that Blues fans can help their club.

OxVox, who are the supporters trust for Oxford United made history very recently by securing the Kassam Stadium as a “community asset” under the Localism Act 2011 – the first football ground to be listed as such. What that means is that prior to any possible sale of the ground, a moratorium of six months is placed on the sale and the supporters trust are given a chance to raise the funds and purchase it themselves. Whilst it cannot prevent the sale it should help act as a deterrent to any owner who sees the sale of the ground as a quick financial fix and it means that if the ground is put up for sale there is an opportunity for the fans to make a positive change and raise the funds to buy it themselves.

So how can Blues fans do this? Well, it’s actually quite simple. An application has to be made to Birmingham City Council by a local community organisation – the Blues Trust would count in this instance – for the ground to be put onto the BCC “community asset list”. If the council decides that the ground does have community value then they will add it to the list – although the landowner/occupier has  a right to a review of the decision and an appeal to an independent body.

I understand that the Trust are looking into this at the moment, and I personally urge them to not only consider this but to actively pursue it; it’s only a small action but it’s a positive one that can help secure St Andrews in the short-term at least and ensure that some fears of the ground being sold off are allayed.

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73 Responses to “Securing St Andrews”

  • Northern Exile says:

    It has to be done. Not only because few of us would trust BIH as far as we could throw them collectively (let alone as far as any of them are from the action), but also because it forces Birmingham City council to confirm they have an interest in the club. The statute requires them to take the action seriously, and how bad would they look if they didn’t suggest that one of the city’s two big, modern, all-seater stadia is an asset to the community?

    • bluenoseneil says:

      ….the other being Halesowen FC, right??

    • John says:

      I’m not sure Birmingham City Council realise that the football team is an asset to the city. Didn’t they do, what no other city in England has done,when they refused the club, a victory parade,after one of the most sensational cup final victories in memory. It’s no wonder the City of Birmingham,is unknown outside of Britain.

  • Letsby Avenue says:

    :-)

    Yes, if possible do it.

    Blues already have a solid gold reputation for involvement in the community (started by the Kumars in fact), support for the community and the already (and increasing) use of facilities at St Andrews for community and educational support.

    Harry’s Football match, next week, is an ideal case in point.

    Absolutely nothing to lose by doing it, as it is a sincere and self evident truth.
    St Andrews and Blues ARE a comminity asset already.

    If Peter and Carson have alternative exit strategies should they be caught in the pincer movement of Guilty and Administration, then closing off one alternative – possible – alternative, would I feel incline them to their Plan C or Plan Z.

    Being – To Sell Up, earlier than later.

    It’s a fine move, that could have a genuine silver lining in the distant future for fans, as well as being a crucial manouvre by a pawn that helps check-mate.

    Do it.

    :-)

    • StaffsBlue says:

      And from what I read a few weeks ago, St Andrews may be used for church services too. Not sure if that’s gone ahead yet.

      • prewarblue says:

        There are more than enough prayers being offered up right now Staffs,,,,,for the ground to be made into Englands “Lourdes”,,,,just one miracle [them going] would do the trick

  • OzzyBlue says:

    That’s a great discovery, Dan, and it has to happen. That we are debating the possible loss of St Andrews after 107 years is unthinkable. The ground HAS to be protected against the desperate avarice of you know who. He could do a sale and lease-back but once St Andrews is gone, it’s gone.
    It’s as much a part of Birmingham heritage as the Bull Ring, St Martin’s and the Jewellery quarter.
    This issue transcends corporate shenanigans and must be put where it belongs – with the citizenry of Birmingham.

    • chris says:

      He didn’t, i sent it to him yesterday via twitter, but obviously didn’t have the graciousness to mention it

      • almajir says:

        Actually Chris, I saw it on the SD feed (I follow Supporters Direct) prior to you mentioning it.

        Still, if you want credit for mentioning it on twitter also, there you go.

        • chris says:

          Thanks, but you obviously saw it before i did , so i apologise, but you could have mentioned where you got it from at the Supporters Direct site. cheers.

  • Pete says:

    Great idea and a little step, eventhough I fear what the trust could do about it, with such little membership.

  • sutton apex says:

    a must for the trust to do – and as ever i say again and again – JOIN THE TRUST !! . I paid a fiver , easy process. IF THOUSANDS JOIN THAT VOICE MUST BE HEARD !!

    • eddie says:

      I haven’t seen anything constructive come out of the trust except a lot of hot air,
      Every time I’ve read the quotes or heard them interviewed on BRMB, they just reflect the obvious without any solutions, using the guise of “that would be liable if we commented on that”.

      IMO a waist of £5

      Now if Dan was asking for membership, I would throw him a few quid,
      At least he is looking for constructive resolutions to our cause.

      • chas says:

        Here you go then, Eddie, if you disagree with the Trust why not join and work to change it from the inside..Sniping from the outside just makes you look a bit of a saddo.

        • Alex T says:

          A waist of £5????

          I have 2 major issues here;

          How is £5 spent going to be noticed by anyone other than the most destitute? What, do you have an annual income of £50?? Even if the Blues Trust weren’t to do much, it is more than you are doing and £5 to some well intentions blues fans in support of the club is no waste (certainly if you have ever been to a pub in the last decade)!!

          Second point, I am a BT member and I can tell you that I have been impressed with their work so far. A lot of investigation in conjuction with the press and the use of qualified accountants to make sense of account published by that lot that shall not be mentioned. AND the fact that they are the only body pursuing (and are able to pursue) this option of securing the stadium as a community asset is, IMO WORTH A BLOODY FIVER, YOU STINGY GIT!!

          • Ali Duncan says:

            Well put. To many people a fiver is two-ish pints of Lager, a bet on a nag or a packet of fags. It wouldn’t break most members of society to pass on one of those things or their equivalent just once so sparing a fiver to the BT is not what I would categorise as a waste of money.

          • bluenoseneil says:

            …and to the teetotal, non-smoking, non-gambler it’s simply £5.

            Lets hope to Christ our fans aren’t all able to be categorised as pissed up, fag smoking, gambling (money wasting) troglodytes or we really should pack up and go home now!

      • Lee says:

        Eddie, you fail to mention that some of the hard work Often Partisan has put in over the last few months would not have been possible without the Trust. Likewise, you also fail to mention that the Trust and Often Partisan have been working together as part of a joint investigation with the Birmingham Mail for many months into the corporate governance of BCFC and BIHL.

        If you are going to criticise an organisation, do not discredit the hard work they have put in to date.

      • chris says:

        The Trust is already in the process of pursuing such avenues as this legal protection for the stadium, that’s why you should join.

      • Eddie says:

        if the trust were to pursue this I would happily donate £5 to the cause, but this is the first constructive thing to emerge – IMO.

        • Steve-0 says:

          I’d screw a fiver up, throw it off a bridge and make a wish if I knew it would help Blues. We’re not all the same though, we all earn varying amounts of money, have different attitudes to money and also have other halves with different attitudes to money not to mention kids.

          It’s unreasonable to challenge another mans questioning of the value when you don’t know his situation.

          That said, I don’t think the Trust having first refusal on the ground is automatically the best idea. Especially as you say it could only delay the sale. I’m sure a gig price would deter the trust from a purchase. Well that was easily negated, what next? Check-mate? Not a chance!!

  • eddie says:

    I doubt the Council will approve, they’re all Villa fans, as they proved by not allowing us an open top bus tour after winning the Carling Cup

    • chas says:

      It was McL who refused the Coach tour…

    • chudlt says:

      The council are all Villa Fans? You know that for a fact do you? Please publish a list of the council members with their football club affiliations.

      • bluenoseneil says:

        Eddie if I were you I’d quit digging now, jump in the hole and start covering yourself over with the dirt. Goon…

  • GaryinOz says:

    Great idea, plus noted that the owners can appeal the decision, if they do, would it not show their possible intent?

    Through interest, how much would St Andrews be worth? I have no idea of real estate prices in Uk having lived over here for so long.

    KRO

  • Matt1875 says:

    I’d buy that for a dollar

  • Radavis says:

    I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t even need to pay off the debt before selling the asset, they would use the money from the sale to sell off the outstanding amount. Like buying anything on finance, as long as the financier agrees you can sell up then pay the outstanding in full.

    As for an act on st. Andrews. I think that’s a great idea and even if we couldn’t buy it, just having a 6 month waiting period might be enough to dissuade the board.

    Top work once more.

  • The_bear says:

    Good call, in fact could the trust approach BCC asking for support as the continued demise of BCFC could be seen as a financial loss to the city as an employer and tourist and visitor attraction?

  • Cocka says:

    With the price of houses and the impoverished area is there any value in the ground?

    • Blueboy 88 says:

      Most probabley to a major supermarket chain yes , & the council could then lever additional investment from them for the local infrastructure , schools , roads etc

      However the book value for St Andrews is 20m+ I believe , which seems a little generous.

      Which does raise the point of what is its realistic market value ?

    • Peckham_Blue says:

      Cocka: there may not be apparent value there now but there will be in 10 or 20 years. Tescos will buy up land years in advance of construction, their Planning Applications (which almost always are granted) can be years in development and they have the resources to see them through. “Incentives” such as civils/transport links etc will be added in due course to sweeten the deal until the Council can’t say no. Look at Burntree Island or Stourbridge Ring Road for examples. In the next few years East Side and the new developments in Digbeth will creep towards St Andrews and with it’s good road and rail links I’d suggest any serious developer will have the ground in his sights. Long game etc. As part of a larger development the ground could be worth billions to the right investor. Soil contamination and ground conditions will be the only major issue from what I can see but these are manageable problems.

      Thanks to Almajir and all the contributers to the comments. This is the only place worth going for Blues’ news. Big ups.

  • cyprusblue says:

    Do we have an estimated value of the land? Is it to sell it to develop and we relocate or sale and leaseback scenario?

  • Ian B says:

    At first sight this looks like a great idea. However, I fear it will deter potential bidders for he club who may have a legitimate strategy for development.

  • Agent McLeish says:

    I’d be suprised if the ground is sold under the current ownership as this would lower the value of the club to potential bidders. Saying that, anything is possible from these clowns once they have raided the parachute payment.
    PP’s comments in the Mail regarding the sale of the club are full non-committal statements and as we have experienced he is a master of misdirecting people.
    Finally, have a read of of part two of 200%’s take on PP’s recent rant to the media, it’s very good! http://twohundredpercent.net/?p=23072

  • Andy D says:

    For me it’s not about redevelopment plans as I’m sure if new owners wanted to redevelop or move then it would be done properly and the Trust would support it. The real issue for me is will this then delay the sale of the club at all while we all wait around for six months in case a community group want to buy the ground? Could the club be sold to a new owner and as part of that process the Trust buy the ground? Sounds great on paper but I suspect there’s devil in the detail.

  • Andy says:

    I’m all for designating St Andrew’s as a community asset, the only problem with the Trust buying the ground is that due to them having an asset lock in their constitution, they would then be unable to sell the ground back to any new owner if they so wished.

  • Mark says:

    Is it not a debenture?

    The club could sell the ground to HSBC and the portion of the charge could be shifted.

    Alternatively a simple undertaking from a solicitor can easily lift the charge on that understanding.

    Our ground won’t be ours if they are still here by 2014

  • prewarblue says:

    This is a great idea,,,,,I,m not sure about this also,,,,,but dont the club also own the blocks of flats behind the old main stand,,,,,bought with the intention of using the land to build a new stand on it,,,,but prevented by the said blocks having a preservation order on the them as special interest site, this may or may not help the councils actions in listing the ground, if they so desired

  • Raters says:

    Surely that would put an obstacle in the way of any of any potential new owners?

    • almajir says:

      This is an attitude I cannot understand. (not a personal dig, as you’re not the only one to say this)

      People complain about how football in this country is ruined, and hark at the German model whereby the fans owns a stake in their clubs.

      Yet when a proposal is mooted whereby the fans have an opportunity to purchase the ground should an owner want to sell it – and it’s nothing more than that – it’s seen as a stumbling block to any bid and potentially wrong. I don’t see that it should be – if anything, it should deter the worst asset strippers from buying the club which can only be a good thing.

      • Raters says:

        I don’t disagree or say the principle idea isn’t a good one. I just worry that it may be yet another obstacle, right now, to a buy out.

        Guess some of us are so desperate to see the back of the current lot we’d even consider this idea to be negative.

      • Wearynose says:

        Absolutely right, Dan. We don’t want to attract an owner who sees a lack of control of the ground as a ‘stumbling block’. We need a new owner who has integrity and an interest in the development of the Club. We don’t need owners such as those at Portsmouth recently who gamble the future of their club by mortgaging its assets in a mad gamble, spending many tens of borrowed millions to compete at the top level instantly rather than properly developing the capacity of the club over time, as many German clubs have done. I agree that the Blues Trust should be urged to seek classification of the ground as a community asset.

  • darren says:

    the flats at the back of the main stand have already been knocked down, so don’t see this as a hindrance to development. not much point in developing, crowds will be around 10k next yr.

    boycott these leeches, stop them buying the ground and force into admin, whatever it takes to get rid

  • DjjC1985 says:

    Didn’t Roman Abromovich buy Chelsea and stamford bridge was owned by a supporters group can’t be that much of an obstacle

    • Raters says:

      Because he bought Chelsea as a hobby, not as an investment (which is likely to be the type of buyer we get sadly)

      • DjjC1985 says:

        Know one buys a football club as an investment how many make money from a club any way the point I was making was to have a provision in place to stop any sale of the ground would surely not put off any one who was serious about buying our club

        • Raters says:

          Sullivans/Gold made money. Think the days of people just buying a club for the fun of it have gone for a while.
          I think it MAY stop potential owners, sadly.

          • DjjC1985 says:

            Did they how much money did they invest in the stadium paying off the debts we had when they came in players I would of thought they put a quite a bit of money them selves and found an idiot to over pay for the club lol don’t get me wrong I don’t think they made a loss but I also don’t think they made that much either

  • DjjC1985 says:

    http://twohundredpercent.net/?p=23072 part two and sounds like there will be a part 3 and some credit for O.P and the supporters trust. While on the subject of credit your down as my supporter of the year dan I’ve been following O.P for a long time I don’t really like to comment last was the first time I have but after seeing you get a bit of stick recently I would just like to to say thank you for every thing you do for all us blue noses

  • Minehead Blue says:

    Brilliant piece of work and research…very well done!!

    I hope that the the Trust make the application to prevent our ground being sold to further pay for Yeungs costs and inflate Pannu’s bank balance.

  • Euston 9.18 says:

    Flip the coin about the “obstacle” to new owners.

    We the fans wouldn’t have the worry IF or when the club was sold to new owners,of ST ANDREWS been sold off.

    Also maybe the trust might add that BIRMINGHAM CITY home colour kit is ROYAL BLUE.

    Not like are Welsh friends (LoL) from Cardiff.

  • P.J.Nicholls says:

    This has been done at Atherstone where the Council bought the ground as there was a legal clause where the ground could only be used for Football,this prevents the ground being sold off for other commercial uses.
    This trick has been useful in some cases but there has been several non-league teams folded up over the last few years because of business men seeing the opportunity to make a fast buck.Paget Rangers;Moor Green;Worcester City;Leicester United.
    There could be a case for applying to the Lottery fund for help;The FA funding plus there are funds available from the ECC to promote football.
    Latterly I would suggest the Birmingham City Council although they have not been very forthcoming of recent means to aid our local teams and thus the success of London;Manchester; Liverpool over and above Birmingham.

  • Tony says:

    How can anyone not think it is a good idea? its the best indeed the only idea to come up so far go for it I say.

  • tamuffblue says:

    As usual a great piece from OP and as this blog shows it is impossible to get 100% support for any ideas but open dialogue is always healthy ( although I do believe we av Vilers in our midst !!!!! ) by way of certain imput ?????

  • Andy D says:

    When I asked whether it could impede any sale I didn’t mean to imply it was a bad idea in any way, I think it’s great that we / the Trust could own the ground. We just need to look at Coventry to see what the consequences could be. I just wondered if it could slow down any potential sale to new owners by the club being up for sale and then the Trust being given six months to buy the ground before the actual sale could go through. If it worked like this then it would add a level of uncertainty to any buyer as they wouldn’t know if they were buying the ground too. Just tying to understand it.

  • Paul Carter says:

    Stop term gap – yes

    Long term solution – no

    However I would say that any prospective buyer would smash through this by law but the fact we’d get 6 months grace makes it worthwhile. I’d say if Pannu fought it he’d win as St Andrews clearly isn’t a community asset it’s a privately owned stadium. Not a playing field.

  • ed77 says:

    Off the subject I know but is there any news on murphy will he be fit for next season?is he still under contract etc?

    • chas says:

      Dont know about Murphy, but Blues have signed the Goalie from Scotland apparently..Proving again that we have got money..Not a lot maybe, but some..

      • almajir says:

        Chas, in fairness it would have been disingenuous to think Blues would be fielding exclusively u18s and Zigic next season… they were always going to sign some players

        • chas says:

          Yep, I realise that Dan., but things havent got to the wrist cutting stage
          yet that some reckon..I am even thinking of having a Season Ticket again, and if Chris will join the BT then I will as well..How about thta ?

          • chas says:

            Damn…Just spotted my mistake..It was Eddie who was moaning about the BT…Sorry Chris, whoever you are.

  • mark says:

    Dan sorry to come back to comment you made, you felt that pp was lieing, can you tell me why you feel that? I think it was with regarding to pp first comments in 100% part one. Again with all these comments regarding fleece blues pp has knowledge the work that had to be done………or has he not?????? Does he need to put in petrol receipts…. One of his jobs was to get the accounts in order. He was also quote whether they would sell??? Have they shown any evident with regards to selling st.Andrews???

    • almajir says:

      Mark

      I’m not going to get into this with you, but I will tell you one thing for nowt – the chief reason there was a struggle to release the BIH accounts was Pannu and his consultancy fee.

  • mark says:

    Dan- with the ground what does not filling at 20,000 would it be bcfc interest to scale down anyway. And maybe have a ground that fill maybe 10,000-15,000 as it looks to me that fans simply do not care, pick and chose anyway…….this funny really because if we were in the premiership you watch the hordes fans return then. ……..

  • Marky mark says:

    It’s a great idea in principal, unfortunately we carnt get our fans to go the games or by season tickets, how on earth would we raise enough money to buy the ground?

    We could probably afford the club shop

  • ray says:

    i love the passion on this site and thanks to almajir for all your hard work!! your a blues legend.
    GET BEHIND THE TEAM NEXT SEASON AND MAKE ST ANDREWS THE FORTRESS IT WAS THE NIGHT WE BEAT THE TRACTOR BOYS!!!!! keep right on lads

  • KeeprightCroydON says:

    Almajir

    As you’d hoped, and no doubt privately expected.
    http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/local-news/birmingham-city-fans-bid-st-3841848


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