BEIJING, Sept 15 (Reuters) – Hong Kong billionaire Carson Yeung, who hopes to complete his $130 million purchase of Birmingham City in the next three weeks, wants the Premier League club to spearhead a revolution in Chinese soccer.
Yeung’s Grandtop International Holdings Limited expected its bid to buy a controlling interest in the club to be approved by shareholders at a meeting on Sept. 29, he said.
Emphasising that stability at the English club would be their initial watchword, Yeung also spoke of his vision of Birmingham helping to cure China’s soccer ills. “Over the 10 years China has had its sports boosted, but there has been no development for football,” Yeung told a news conference on Tuesday.
“So I would like to make my humble contribution… In the future when the team is stablised, we will recruit Chinese players who have potential.
“My biggest wish is to bring in the English Premier League club to China, promote English professionalism and football concepts to the Chinese, and to let the Chinese know how a English football team is managed.”
Grandtop’s chief operations officer Sammy Yu reiterated that they were keen to work with manager Alex McLeish after the takeover, and said management on the business side of the club would be strengthened and not necessarily replaced wholesale.
“We will not be crazy buyers, spending crazy money for nothing,” Yu said. “In football, even if you spend a fortune, it doesn’t mean you will succeed. We want to strengthen the club step-by-step.
“We have a lot of friends in football circles … with expertise in the Premier League, of even higher class than the existing management,” he added.
“We will work together with the current management… Mr Yeung will be the final decision-maker, but we need a team to run the club.”
Yu said former England winger Steve McManaman and France midfielder Christian Karembeu were expected to help out, but probably in areas such as scouting and international relations.
The mission to improve Chinese soccer would include a building a dedicated school, inviting Chinese coaches to St Andrew’s and even inviting the national team to base itself in Birmingham before big tournaments.
“Helping Chinese football is not to simply about providing money,” Yu added. “Probably Chinese football is poorly developed because they have too much money.
“Mr Yeung has got the money, but he hopes we work together to establish a concept of Chinese football and to make it organised. We will bring in the valuable part of English football.” (Additional reporting by Liu Zhen; Editing by John O’Brien; To comment on this story email firstname.lastname@example.org)