Thursday 10 April ~
Football supporters have always made up songs about rivals clubs but Birmingham City, a club owned by pornographers, give opposing fans more opportunities than most – as will no doubt become apparent when the Birmingham derby is played in a just over a week's time. New material has been provided by the arrest of the club's chief executive Karren Brady and owner David Sullivan as part of a City of London police inquiry into football corruption. Both were released on bail, as were the seven others arrested in the same investigation last November – including Harry Redknapp and Milan Manadric, the former Portsmouth chairman now at Leicester – which appears to centre on the transfer of Senegalese player Aliou Cissé from Birmingham to Portsmouth in 2004.
David Sullivan often looks ridiculous when sat in the directors' box at football matches, his taste for old Soviet uniforms with fur hats and long overcoats making him look like he's on his way to a fancy dress party. The absurdity is compounded when the “Cossack munchkin” moves because the overcoat hides his feet from some angles, so that he seems to be gliding along. Sullivan evidently doesn't much care what anyone thinks about him – all publicity is good (although being arrested might count as an exception). The same line of thinking influenced his appointment of Brady – whose father Terry was also in the publishing business – as the first female chief executive in football. Brady, named Businesswoman of the Year in 2007, has worked assiduously to make herself a well known public figure, having also written novels and newspaper columns and hosted TV shows.
Sullivan, who rarely appears to have a thought that doesn't get expressed publicly, has seemed poised to leave Birmingham for some time. He has accused supporters of having unreasonable expectations of a club that was in the third tier when he took over and has also fallen out with co-owner and business partner David Gold, notably over an incident of alleged racism. Having been linked first with a takeover of his home town club Cardiff City, and then West Ham, Sullivan arranged to sell Birmingham to Hong Kong businessman Carson Yeung in 2007 although that arrangement has since fallen through.
Birmingham have stressed that both Sullivan and Brady attended prearranged interviews with police yesterday. Sullivan even gave the impression that he hadn't met police at all, in an “exclusive”, albeit terse, chat with the Daily Express. While protesting his innocence to his many friends in the press last year, Harry Redknapp explained the police's dawn raid on his mansion in Poole by saying "they have to arrest you to talk to you”, a misassumption about police procedure that is understandable in someone who has not been in trouble before. Let's just hope this all gets cleared up quickly for the sake of the football family.