Chi­nese are com­ing – Gary knows!

The Football League Paper - - INSIDE -

THE sack­ing of Gary Rowett was as shock­ing as it was baf­fling. Rarely can any dis­missal have been de­liv­ered with less jus­ti­fi­ca­tion. The 42-year-old worked won­ders for Birm­ing­ham City, res­cu­ing them from cer­tain rel­e­ga­tion and build­ing a com­pet­i­tive side on the tight­est of bud­gets. As the club suf­fered, he of­fered a glimpse of sal­va­tion and for that he will for­ever be in Blues’ fans hearts.

In truth, though, Rowett’s fate is merely the new re­al­ity in a di­vi­sion in­creas­ingly fall­ing un­der Chi­nese con­trol.

Chi­nese own­er­ship of Bri­tish clubs is about a lot more than foot­ball. It is a pro­jec­tion of power and sta­tus.

Three years ago, Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping – a foot­ball fa­natic – drew up am­bi­tious plans to turn China into a foot­ball su­per­power by 2050.

Overnight, Euro­pean clubs be­came the must-have in­vest­ment for any Chi­nese busi­ness­man wish­ing to curry favour and in­flu­ence in his home­land.

Blues, Villa and Wolves are just the start. It is only a mat­ter of time be­fore the red flag is raised above more Cham­pi­onship grounds. Once, the su­per rich sailed a yacht into Monaco. Now, they wave a scarf from the di­rec­tors’ box.

Like his coun­ter­parts in the Mid­lands, Blues owner Paul Suen is used to rapid growth and swift re­turns. He ex­pects his money to buy suc­cess and any per­ceived fail­ure is not tol­er­ated.

Un­for­tu­nately, only three teams can be suc­cess­ful in any one sea­son and his­tory proves they tend to be those with sta­bil­ity and hard cash.

Plenty of over­seas own­ers have dis­cov­ered that the hard way. Suen may be the next.

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