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Birmingham in turmoil as directors plan to quit after relegation

SoccerNews in English Premier League 12 May 2008

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Birmingham face a close-season of uncertainty after chairman David Gold hinted he may resign and director David Sullivan insisted he wants to quit following abuse from supporters as the club was relegated despite a 4-1 win over Blackburn at St Andrew's.

Gold likened the ordeal of watching his team lose their Premier League status to a 'near-death experience', saying: “I feel dreadful. I can understand the fans' disappointment at relegation, but never have I seen them being so abusive.

“Am I talking about a minority, or is it a majority? If it's a majority I will be left with no alternative other than to resign as chairman of this football club.”

Gold singled out fans sat adjacent to the directors' box, adding: “They were the ones who really hurt me because you could see the hatred in their eyes.”

Sullivan blasted: “These people don't know anything about business and nothing about football. I've had enough and I don't want to be here next season.”

He invited the chairman to buy him out, adding: “There are five or six clubs out there who would welcome me with open arms. It's time to move to a new club.”

Gold, the multi-millionaire publisher, who along with his brother Ralph stepped in with Sullivan to save Birmingham from bankruptcy in 1993, insists he will only leave if the right replacement comes along.

“I will remain fully committed to Birmingham City, and that situation will only change if a substantial new person comes along to purchase.

“I am not a willing seller. I am only a seller if someone comes along who can genuinely take the club forward.”

Gold admitted the protracted takeover talks last year with a consortium headed by Hong Kong businessman Carson Yeung, which ultimately fell through and led to the departure of manager Steve Bruce to Wigan, had played a key part in Birmingham's relegation after just one season back in the Premier League.

Meanwhile, Bruce's replacement, Alex McLeish, hopes the club will back his rebuilding plans.

McLeish said: “There is a job to be done here and with the right investment I'm ready to take inspiration from other managers who have been down this road.

“My plan is to bring more players in. I've got to put my own stamp on the club and hopefully we will see some changes in the summer.

“David Sullivan wrote a very positive piece in the matchday programme about keeping our best players. The Board has the power to inspire the fans and inspire the club.”

Goals from David Murphy, Fabrice Muamba and two from substitute Cameron Jerome, who was drafted on to the bench at the last minute after James McFadden aggravated a calf-strain in the warm-up, equalled Birmingham's best win of a difficult season. Morten Gamst Pedersen replied for Blackburn.

McLeish added: “It's been a long season and I'm proud of the players. They have punched above their weight on many occasions.

“How do I feel right now? Ask me again in 48 hours. I've thanked the players for the support they have given me this season.

“I'm disappointed we did not win more games at home, but we had a good record here, only losing once in 13 games and that was to Chelsea.”

Birmingham began the game knowing they had to get a result better than relegation rivals Reading and Fulham. But Reading's win over Derby at Pride Park, and Fulham's victory over Portsmouth at Fratton Park, rendered the outcome academic.

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