birmingham takeover

McLeish praises outgoing duo

September 17, 2009

Birmingham manager Alex McLeish has hailed the contribution David Sullivan and Karren Brady have made during almost 17 years at St Andrew's and believes exciting times lie ahead under the club's prospective new owners.

GettyImagesMcLeish is looking to sign a new striker in January

PLC chairman Sullivan and chief executive Brady announced yesterday they will leave the West Midlands outfit if Hong Kong businessman Carson Yeung completes his takeover.

Billboards have already been erected across the city with an image of Sullivan, Brady, director Ralph Gold and the message 'Goodbye. Thank you for all your support over the last 17 years', with their final home game set to be the Barclays Premier League encounter against Bolton on September 26.

Yeung has now formally lodged his bid for Blues. His company, Grandtop International Holdings, already owns 29.9% of the club and, with co-owners Sullivan and the Gold brothers, David and Ralph, indicating they will sell their 50% stake, Yeung is already well on his way to complete control.

Although David Gold appears likely to stay on, the takeover marks the end of an era for Birmingham that has lasted close to two decades and taken the blue half of the Second City from the depths of despair to England's elite.

``They've done a great job at Birmingham over the years, they dragged the club up from pretty desperate times,'' said McLeish. ``The stadium, the whole infrastructure, they built it up to what it is today.

``David has admitted he can't take it to the next level, if there is a next level, but I'd like to think I've got the ambition to see a next level here at this club.

``David has decided to opt out, I think he goes with a lot of credit, massive credit, and Karren and whoever else is leaving.''

He added: ``David has run it in such a way where he's probably caught between overspending, risking the ruin of the club, risking the club going to League One as that's happened to some illustrious names in the past.

``One thing they have done is kept a tight rein on the finances, at the end of the day Birmingham have been able to sell the club for the price they got because there's absolutely no debt here. They've done a fantastic financial job.''

McLeish is all too aware of what the past has held for Birmingham and the contribution the current board have made but, at this current moment in time, he has not had the chance to speak to Yeung due to complex takeover procedures.

Asked if he knows anything about what the future holds, the Blues boss replied: ``Only what you've read this week, it's all pretty much in the open now, but as soon as I get a chance from the current board's say-so I'll speak to Carson Yeung about my ambitions for the club.

``There's nothing that I really know until I sit down and chat. The comments he's made from China this week, he's an ambitious man and I'm ambitious as well. I look forward to working with him.''

From the fans' point of view, uncertainty still surrounds Yeung and what he will bring following his attempted takeover two years ago and the upheaval that followed, with many pointing to the disruption as a contributing factor towards Birmingham's relegation in 2008.

But McLeish himself is not looking at it that way.

``I've never felt uncertain about the whole thing,'' he added. ``I like to think the cup is half-full, think 'there's change coming, let's embrace it and make it work'. Rather than fearing what's going to happen.

``It's new, exciting times for Birmingham City Football Club and Birmingham City fans and everybody who's already at the club.''