Brady backing breakaway league

Last updated : 18 January 2002 By Brian Cartlidge
Blues MD Karren Brady
Brady is convinced the Football League should embrace a Premiership Two or contemplate a slow, financial death.

And she makes no apologies for her involvement in talks aimed at forcing a breakaway league, insisting that protecting the future of Birmingham City is motive enough.

She said: 'No-one wants to wake up and find out that what's happened to Nottingham Forest, for example, is happening to them.'

The answer, Brady insists, is money - and a Premiership Two.

She said: 'It would take the suicide element out of being promoted. The gap is enormous.

'Giving a promoted club £3million and someone in the Premiership £15m isn't good for clubs in general and I'm not sure it's good for football. And that's why some form of restructuring is inevitable.

'It hasn't been done so far because of fear. But what people have to realise is that fear was our motivation for putting this forward.'

Brady has helped transform St Andrew's into a club of which the long-suffering supporters can be proud during her nine years at the helm.

Turnover has increased and the infrastructure is in place for it to rise should the club make it to the Premiership.

She said: 'The main difference I have seen in the nine years I've been involved in football is that there is little fun any more. That is down to the huge financial pressure.

'That pressure is on the owners, the managers and people in charge of the day-to-day running of clubs. Put simply, to reach our goals we have put ourselves in a precarious position financially. We have spent money that we do not have.'

Brady was involved in secret talks that have forced the Football League to conduct a thorough review of the way the game is run and she feels a Premiership Two is inevitable.

'Let's be honest, the motivation for all of this is money,' she said. 'It's not about luck or youth systems, no matter what people would like to believe.

'It's about people bringing in the players who can give you the status you want. If you want that kind of player, then you have to pay £20,000 a week. If you've got average crowds of 45,000 and you're in the Premier League, you can make it pay.

'But in the First Division average gates are just under 15,000. There is only so much you can charge for hospitality when you're trying to sell Birmingham City versus Crewe - and that is no disrespect to Crewe.

'Our market is saturated. We've got Blues credit cards, Blues telecom, Blues travel and even Blues funerals. Where else do we turn to generate revenue?'

She said that while the rich have got richer, clubs in the next tier down have made huge advances, too.

'When I arrived nine years ago our top player was earning 500 quid a week,' she added. 'I remember having a conversation with David Sullivan about bringing in a player from West Ham. He wanted £1,000 a week and we wondered whether we could afford it.

'Then we had a wage bill of £1m, now it's nearer £10m - and we are not alone.'

Brady was quick to defend the Phoenix League rebels. 'We are talking about survival here,' she said.

'Unless there is change, there will be no future. Unless we can figure out a way to improve the situation, some clubs won't be around in five years. Of that, I'm sure.'