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Pannu does not have the blues


Birmingham City FC acting chairman Peter Pannu is optimistic about the future for the Blues. City fans might be more sceptical about his assurances and feel that they have been promised jam tomorrow on previous occasions. However, he takes the view that a new era is opening up after the departure of Carson Yeung.

Anyway, this is what he told the club's website, speaking after BIHL's EGM in Hong Kong: "All resolutions from today's EGM were passed by 100 per cent of the independent voting shareholders which is a milestone and a big step forward in restructuring the group's equity position as a prelude to the resumption of trading of BIHL's shares.

"The shareholders were eager to see that happen as they support the board's strategies and endorse the work being done in Hong Kong and the UK. Birmingham City Football Club is relieved of Carson Yeung's debt, which will be converted to equity in Hong Kong thus making the club's financial position better. This has to be beneficial to the club's operations going forward, certainly ahead of any negativity that will stem from Mr Yeung's court case.

"Various fundraising activities were also approved and this will ultimately lead to new equity for the use of the group and the football club. The enlargement of the share capital of BIHL to facilitate the subscription of new shares upon resumption of trading to generate fresh capital will be envisaged.

"These are all important steps which I have been attending to since I joined the BIHL board here in Hong Kong. This was in order to improve the financial position of the group, and ultimately the football club. Of course, the current position was as a result of the freezing of Mr Yeung's assets and the suspension of trading of BIHL's shares on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. This is a position that nobody wanted to be in but it had to be dealt with and these will soon be issues of the past.

"Hopefully going forward some of the financial problems will be eased and the group can operate and endeavour to generate new revenue under the leadership of the new chairman, Cheung Shing, following the departure of Mr Yeung."

Despite severing his official ties with St Andrew's, Yeung remains the club's majority shareholder. But the BBC has reported that, following Tuesday's EGM, Blues will no longer have to repay a £15m loan due to their former club chairman.

Blues' future has, effectively, been on hold since Yeung first appeared in court in June 2011 - just a month after the club's relegation from the Premier League was confirmed.
Trading in the company's shares was suspended following Yeung's arrest. There has been talk of takeover bids for almost two years now, while manager Lee Clark has had his hands severely tied in the transfer market.

And gates have fallen at St Andrew's as Blues fans, disillusioned by the club's apparent lack of forward progress, have temporarily turned their backs - a key factor in Blues having not won a home league game in four months. Blues have fallen from being the 10th-best supported club in the Championship two seasons ago to the 15th this time round. Their average attendance for home Championship gates has dropped by more than 20%, over 4,000 a game.

But, when asked about 'all the troubles that the club have faced over the last few years' when he faced the press after Wednesday's meeting, Pannu said: "What troubles?"

Asked whether the fact that Blues are 'in the red' worried him and if he thinks the situation can be turned around, Pannu added: "95% of all clubs in England are in the red. Manchester United, if you check their books, they are indebted to the tune of £350m.
Tell me one club that makes money, except maybe Arsenal and West Bromwich. It's no big deal."

Manchester United are, of course, able to service their debt. It is the case that many Championship clubs have unstable finances as they strive to get promoted to the promised land of the Premiership. However, Pannu's view does seem a little Panglossian.