Birmingham City is said to be close to a takeover deal, with the proposed US owners reportedly seeking to develop a new stadium for the English Championship football club.
The Bloomberg news agency today (Friday) reported that Tom Wagner, co-founder of New York-based Knighthead Capital Management, is close to acquiring a stake in City. The West Midlands outfit has been under Asian ownership since 2007 and has recently seen two failed takeover bids led by Laurence Bassini and Maxco – a consortium fronted by Paul Richardson and Maxi Lopez.
However, on April 12 the club’s owner, Birmingham Sports Holdings Limited (BSHL), announced on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange that two letters of intent had been entered into with a potential purchaser. This is in relation to the exclusive negotiations of two potential transactions. Firstly, the disposal of 24% of the shares in Birmingham City PLC by Birmingham Sports Holdings Limited.
The second transaction would involve the disposal of 21.64% of the shares in Birmingham City PLC by Oriental Rainbow Investments Limited; and the entire issued share capital of Birmingham City Stadium Limited by Oriental Rainbow Investments Limited and Achiever Global Group Limited.
The Mirror newspaper today said Wagner and Knighthead are close to securing an initial £35m (€39.5m/$43.4m) deal, with BSHL said to be seeking an initial payment handed over for a minority shareholding with the controlling interest concluding an official takeover in the next 18 months.
The Mirror said the proposed new owners will regain ownership of City’s current home, St Andrew’s, with a view to redeveloping the site as social housing. Talks are said to be underway to move the club to a new stadium built on a 40-acre plot of derelict land at Birmingham Wheels Park, a motorsport facility in the West Midlands city. Site visits are said to have been made with the knowledge of Birmingham City Council.
City has called St Andrew’s home since the stadium opened in 1906, but the facility has fallen into a state of disrepair under the club’s current ownership. Earlier this month, the club announced that repair work in the lower sections of the Kop and Tilton Road stands is scheduled for completion during the 2023-24 season.
Sections of St. Andrew’s have been closed for the best part of two seasons due to structural issues. This has resulted in a significant reduction in stadium capacity and the club announced in October that it hoped St. Andrew’s would return to full working order in time for the start of the 2023-24 season.