SPORTS LAW AT THE CROSSROADS

Birmingham City stay under Chinese control as they exit receivership

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October 17 – Birmingham City, one of the first clubs to be acquired by a Chinese investor before Chinese ownership became a fashion in Europe, has formally completed the transfer of shares to a new Chinese owner, Trillion Trophy Asia (TTA), controlled by Paul Suen.

The club was first invested in by Hong Kong businessman Carson Yeung in 2009. He was convicted of money laundering in 2014 and the club was put in the hands of receivers Ernst and Young in 2015.

The club’s parent company, Birmingham International Holdings Limited (BIHL), is listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange and has now resumed trading. TTA has acquired more than 50% of the shares in the compant.

No detail of the make-up of the new club board has been released.

A club statement said that “a line can be formally drawn under the old regime”.

“TTA entered a two-year period of exclusivity in June 2015 with the Receivers and BIHL and has been providing investment for new players and working capital to aid the Club’s operations,” said the statement.

The club is currently lieing sixth in the Championship and in a Premier League play-off place after 12 matches. It seems unlikely though that there will be a huge influx of funds to buy new players though Suen is expected to invest further in the club to improve its infrastructure and value.

Birmingham City is one of four West Midlands clubs under Chinese ownership – one in the Premier League and three in the Championship. Since the end of last season summer Tony Xia has bought Aston Villa and West Bromwich Albion was sold to a Chinese Investment group. Chinese conglomerate Fosun International owns Wolverhampton Wanderers.

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