Andrew Turton finds out more about the solid, if unspectacular, chairman at the Bluebirds
Distinguishing Features Tall, handsome and immaculately turned out. The local press always pictures him staring trance-like into the distance, apparently dreaming of the Premier League. Dream on, Samesh.
Habitat Spends an awful lot of time driving back and forward along the M4 in a huge BMW coupe. Normally residing in London, working very successfully in the rag trade, he pops down for home matches. Although chairman, Kumar actually owns very few shares, with the family firm holding the majority that keeps him in place. The story goes that the business bought the club, but the family won’t commit any more money, leaving that to Samesh. You’ll have noticed that we’re still in the Third Division.
What use is he? Saved us from the clutches of the previous tyrant Rick Wright, and has been doing the usual “building a solid platform” for the last three seasons. In other words, not spending any money. The club is much better run than it ever was, but that’s not surprising considering we seem to have more back-room staff than players (27 at the last count). To his credit, he’s always ready to listen to the fans, and the recent decision to stay at Ninian Park, rather than move to an ill-conceived sports village in swanky Cardiff Bay, was seen by many as his finest hour.
Who remembers his birthday? Birmingham’s current owner David Sullivan always sends a card, usually with a PS that reads “Wanna sell the club?”. It seems Sullivan likes buying clubs off Samesh – preferably on the cheap – that’s where he got Birmingham City from, and now he wants Cardiff as well.
Quote Unquote 1. On taking over: “The fans must be patient.”
2. Three seasons later: “The fans must be patient.”
3. “Russell Osman is the man to take the club forward.”
4. Seven games later: “Russell Osman has been relieved of his duties.”
Other offences to be taken into consideration Perhaps Kumar’s biggest problem is that he’s too nice. Everyone likes him, thinks he’s trying his best and all that, it’s just that he doesn’t appear to have any money. His track record in choosing managers wasn’t too great either, until the recent master stroke bringing Frank Burrows back to his old stamping ground. In three seasons, he burdened us with Phil Neal, Russell Osman and Kenny Hibbitt – every one of them useless. Hibbitt is also a close friend, and so escaped the fate of Osman. He now has a cosy five-year contract doing very little as Director of Football. Kumar is often accused of turning away prospective investors so as to remain in control (name me a chairman that doesn’t), thereby condemning the club to more years in the basement. Poverty isn’t a crime, though refusing to step aside and let someone else have a go probably is. Guilty, then, but we’ll let him off if he sells up to some philanthropic multi-millionaire.
From WSC 142 December 1998. What was happening this month