Alex McLeish will stay as Birmingham City manager next season, although he is not certain of keeping all of his best players. Birmingham were relegated from the Premier League on Sunday, but a statement from acting chairman Peter Pannu yesterday insisted that McLeish's job was safe.
Yesterday's club statement affirmed the Scot's security in the job, although insisted that they expected an immediate return to the top flight. "The board regrets yesterday's result and subsequent relegation and feels that supporters, who have continued to back us magnificently, have been let down," the statement read. "The club can confirm that manager Alex McLeish's job is safe but that the board will expect him to lead the side back to the Barclays Premier League in the 2011-12 season."
The statement also defended the record of Carson Yeung's ownership of the club to date. "The board will take stock of what went wrong this season despite Carson Yeung's promised injection of £40m in funds – not £80m as the media wrongly assumed," it continued. "The board will closely discuss and implement appropriate procedures to ensure a speedy return to the top flight."
McLeish, though, is resigned to the fact that he will have to engineer promotion without some of his better players, whom he believes will be leaving this summer. "Some of the guys will have other options and we appreciate that," he conceded. "The fact is we are in the Championship and not the Premier League and I'm sure they'll have choices." Goalkeeper Ben Foster and centre-halves Roger Johnson and Scott Dann are likely to attract the attention of Premier League clubs.
Birmingham may need to sell players due to the financial consequences of relegation. There is likely to be a shortfall in television revenue of £37m: annual Premier League TV revenue is roughly £40m while teams only make £3m in the Championship. There is a £16m parachute payment next season for Birmingham, although this will not fully offset the loss. Income from sponsors is also likely to decline, although matchday revenue may not be too badly hit as there will be another four home league games.
Despite the difficulties, McLeish is bullish about Birmingham's prospects of promotion. "It's tough on us to be relegated but we don't lie down and bury our heads in the sand," he said. "We've got to get on with the next challenge. We've got to show leadership."
Blackpool manager Ian Holloway said that he would talk the club's summer plans through with chairman Karl Oyston. "I have a year on my contract," he said, "and I am looking forward to talking with the chairman to see what he wants to do with his club, where it lies now and where we have gone back to."