Chinese are coming – Gary knows!
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.