Readers who follow my website almajir.net will know that over the last few months I’ve been writing an occasional series looking back at money spent by Birmingham City FC to understand better the mistakes of the past.
To prevent the series just being a rehash of old news, I’ve included as part of what I write details from files which have not been made public before to properly back up my interpretation of what happened, an to give people a glimpse into what truly went on.
I’ve kept fairly quiet about how I’ve obtained this information, but as I have made the club aware I think it’s now time to share it with readers too on here.
To explain this properly, I’m going to reference a TV show called Storage Wars (or Storage Hunters as the UK-made version was known).
The premise behind Storage Wars is simple; when the rent on a storage unit becomes past due, after a certain period of time the owner of the storage unit can repossess it and then auction off the contents to the highest bidder, sight unseen. Whoever wins the auction becomes the legal owner of everything in the storage unit and can then spend the profit on whatsoever they wish.
I got a message over half a year ago from an acquaintance (who will remain nameless at their request), who had been talking to a friend of a friend about a repossessed storage unit.
Now ordinarily, I’m not the kind of person who cares about storage units but when this picture was sent to me, I probably resembled one of those cartoon characters whose eyes light up like dollar signs.
For those who don’t know (or are not sure), the picture of the BCFC “legend” is former Birmingham City CEO Ren Xuandong.
It turned out this storage unit was full of stuff connected to Birmingham City and Ren, and I suspect as the guy who bought it wanted as much profit as possible he contacted someone he knew who knew someone who supported the club.
Now, while I am a fan and I’m interested in Ren’s tenure in the club, I can’t say that I particularly wanted a huge paean to the ego of the man on my wall; although the Blues Mahjongg set did look mildly interesting.
However, in with the other memorabilia and junk in the unit were boxes of papers. For a professional sticky beak like me, this was the jackpot. After some negotiation, I came to a price for the boxes and purchased them.
It’s taken me a while to sort through them all as there was quite a lot; some of it was personal and has been immediately shredded and some of it is just doodles, like someone practicing signing their name while attending a boring meeting.
However, there was also gold in there.
It’s enabled me to write stories about stuff that I’d only heard vague rumours of such as Ren’s credit card spending. (side note — I’ve since been told he was forced to pay it back by BSHL but I’ve not had that officially from the club).
It’s also enabled me to show potentially deeper links between the club and the shadowy figure Wang Yaohui, who is also known as “Mr King”.
There is still quite a lot more to go through, which should mean more stories explaining the tenure of Ren Xuandong at BCFC and the situation the club finds itself in.
This hasn’t been without stress though. As one can imagine, the club hasn’t been too happy about this and I’ve been politely asked to give them this paperwork back which they told me was “stolen”.
I’ve declined to do so, on the basis that it is not at all stolen, and that it has been bought as a legal commercial transaction.
Paperwork as a source is great because it is a proper record of things that have happened; however, it can be a legal minefield depending on how it was obtained. People have faced all kinds of legal threats when paperwork has been leaked to them and it’s led to threats of theft when this has been published.
However, this is a different story. In this situation, the unit and everything in it has been abandoned by the person(s) renting it. They will have had ample opportunity to have removed items from the unit before it was repossessed, and will have been told that items in it could be sold on at auction to pay the outstanding balance.
I can’t be held responsible to the fact that the payments were not kept up, or that sensitive documentation was held in the storage unit. The second thing alone should be seen as a huge breach of a director’s duties to the club and I hope the club will have chased Ren about that.
However, based on the documentation held in the box, it was clear that Ren did not pay for anything he did not have to.
Therefore, the question I now have is did Ren stop paying for the storage unit… or was it down to the club or even BSHL?
It’s not hard to imagine that when Ren resigned his role, the club stopped paying for anything for him — and the timeline would fit with respect to the repossession and sale of his items.
And if that’s true — what other nasty surprises could the club be in for?