Dear Editor, The fate of the city’s football clubs underlines the poor public image that Birmingham has nationally.
With Birmingham City relegated and its owner unable to leave Hong Kong because of criminal charges, its plight is obvious.
But Villa, having sold their four best players – Barry, Milner, Young and Downing – and with a fan base still deeply hostile to manager and owner have little to look forward to and potential trouble if the start of the season is not positive.
These issues may be seen as merely football related. Yet they play to a public image of the city as second rate and dominated by incompetence.
The fact that Birmingham did not get the City of Culture bid and has never won a major national investment project still does not resonate among the opinion formers.
Since the Symphony Hall complex was built, no major cultural or sporting complex has emerged in the city, though it is possible that Alexander Stadium in Perry Barr might become a national focus for the athletics world.
The reality is that the city has an abysmal public image. The TripAdvisor poll last summer showed the city second only to Krakow in poor public image, and its food was the third worst behind London and Liverpool. For things to do, it was the worst rated in Europe among the 3,000 tourists polled.
The reaction to this was dismissive, with defenders of the city pointing to the Michelin starred restaurants – few and far between, and not what the average tourist goes to. While the city does have good points, and the CBSO performance at the Proms on July 30 showed the orchestra is still world class, the occasional bright spot does not counteract the overall gloom.
Perhaps the opinion formers simply do not want to know. Groups like the Civic and Lunar Societies have a poor record in debating the state of the city and the region.
Unless the opinion formers wake up, the city will follow the football team that bears its name into relegation and decline.