“Can’t you sneak me in in a laundry basket or something Alex?”
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David Gold was today sensationally told by Birmingham City: you’re barred.
They have decided to refuse Gold access to the boardroom and directors’ box seating when his West Ham United side visit St Andrew’s on Saturday. The move came in direct response to Gold’s comments in The Daily Telegraph about the club he jointly owned between 1993-2009, and particularly Peter Pannu.
Gold described Pannu as ‘disgusting’ in relation to when the 73-year-old was denied the chairmanship in the aftermath of the sale to Carson Yeung. Gold said insinuations from Pannu were that he had lost his mind.
Pannu and Blues have always stated that it was never guaranteed Gold would stay on as chairman – Vico Hui was appointed – and he rejected a vice-president position. And Blues opted to maintain a diplomatic silence on the whole issue of Gold and David Sullivan’s return for the first time since the £81.5 million takeover – until now.
A letter has been fired off to Hammers secretary Liz Coley on behalf of the Blues board.
It stated that due to the Gold’s ‘inflammatory comments’ the board ‘has taken the decision to withdraw Mr Gold’s personal invitation to our fixture tomorrow and he will therefore not be permitted to enter the directors seating or boardroom area’.
It continued: ‘The board feel that they are left with no other option but to withdraw Mr Gold’s invitation due to the above and that this is the appropriate action to take, in addition the board are also mindful of potential security issues for Mr Gold and a possible adverse reaction that may arise from the Birmingham supporters as a result of the comments made.
‘Furthermore, as our president [Carson Yeung] will also be flying in for the game, the board felt that a harmonious boardroom environment should not be affected as we all want a good atmosphere on the day and a good game of football’.
Effectively a banning order, it is a remarkable new twist to a saga that has seen barbs fly back and forth between the old and new regime, High Court action and investigations by West Midlands Police Economic Crime Team.
Gold, who made £18 million from the sale of his Blues stake, told the Birmingham Mail on Thursday that he had ‘some trepidation’ about revisiting St Andrew’s because of how fans might react. And although he praised Yeung, his references to Pannu, vice-chairman executive and finance, were pointed, but not to the extreme of today’s scathing assessment. (Birmingham Mail)
David Gold and David Sullivan have unquestionably done a huge amount for Birmingham City FC. After all, they saved the club from administration when they bought it in 1993.
However, their habit of talking to the press at every given opportunity has won them few friends – though the press lap up their sensationalistic soundbites.
With their current team West Ham United taking on their former club Birmingham this weekend, there was always going to be an element of attention drawn to off-field matters.
Birmingham’s attempt to nip this in the bud before it has got anywhere is a bold step, and if David Sullivan elects to attend the match without his business partner, one cannot imagine that there will be the “harmonious boardroom environment” that the Blues are seeking.
It will be even less acrimonious should Birmingham inflict yet another defeat on the Premier League bottom club – who have already endured a testing week thanks to rumours of captain Matthew Upson departing.