Gold warns Yeung that cutting prices could send Blues down

Outgoing chairman at St Andrew's sounds note of caution to club's new owner
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The Independent Online

The outgoing Birmingham chairman David Gold has warned new owner Carson Yeung that reducing ticket prices could result in relegation.

Hong Kong businessman Yeung, whose new board of directors will be unveiled at a press conference today, has cut the cost of admission for the Premier League visit of Manchester City on 1 November.

It is one of Yeung's first gestures to fans, who may regard him with suspicion after a protracted takeover. But Gold, who is stepping down after 16 years at St Andrew's, does not believe the move can prove a long-term success.

Speaking on BBC Radio Five Live, Gold said: "Sadly, the model for reducing prices doesn't work. In the event that you cut your prices in half you do not double your attendance. Often fans say if you cut your prices you will fill the stadium – it is not true.

"What I have been lobbying for through the FA, and particularly when I was in the Football League, was for prices to be cut universally, across the board, every club reducing their prices.

"You can't do it individually and Carson will find, if he keeps doing it individually, he will get relegated. Fans will love him but he will get relegated because the model doesn't work. If all your competitors cut their prices it's fine, it does work. But what will happen is the other clubs won't cut their prices and they will get promoted or not relegated, so the model doesn't work."

Yeung first attempted to take over the club two seasons ago but a potential deal collapsed and Birmingham were subsequently relegated. Gold accepts he and fellow owner David Sullivan must accept their share of the blame for that, but feels the club is now in good shape as it is handed over.

He said: "One shouldn't blame Carson Yeung, it was the recession that helped the collapse of the deal two years ago. But it was that that got the football club relegated. When the last Carson Yeung attempt to buy the club failed it destabilised the club to an extent that Steve Bruce left, understandably, and we got relegated.

"We did genuinely believe at the time the deal would go through. Our judgement was wrong so you could argue it was the board's fault. I would take the criticism. But we did redeem ourselves and by the same token you must commend us for getting Birmingham City promoted the following season."

He added: "In 16 years at Birmingham City we have taken a club we paid £1 for and sold it for £82m. That's what we did for the football club.

"We also rebuilt three-quarters of the stadium and kept the club in financial stability and managed to take them from the old Third Division to the Premier League. We're proud of that and I don't think we did a bad job. Our contribution to Birmingham has been noteworthy."

The Birmingham manager, Alex McLeish, has been assured by the new regime he will have funds to spend during the January transfer window.

Sammy Yu, the club's new vice-chairman, said: "I can always tell you that, if needed, if we find the player and he can definitely contribute to the team, no matter how much, Carson will back [the signing]. Alex will definitely have money. I have spent two days already with Alex and we are working on this.

"We try to have this understanding regarding our plan for the rest of the season and Carson is coming and then we will have an in-depth meeting, the three of us. We will work out a schedule, Carson will inject money, and how much he will announce at Thursday's press conference. Alex will definitely get good support."

Yu added: "My hope is that the fans realise that to be successful you can't just blindly throw money away. You need time, you need effort, you need money to do it good. That is the most important thing."

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