This week, Post columnist Pat Murphy pin-pointed where exactly he thought things had gone wrong at Birmingham City, and in particular he was critical of the board of directors.
His column riled co-owner David Sullivan, who suffered abuse from a section of the St Andrew’s crowd after relegation to the Championship was confirmed last Sunday. Professor John Samuels of the University of Birmingham, in the Agenda column also criticised the Blues board for not spending enough money.
Here, in full, Sullivan gives his response and lays bare the club’s transfer dealings, his thoughts after Sunday’s chaotic scenes and his hopes for the future of the club.
"I’ll never forget Sir Alan Sugar telling Tottenham Hotspur supporters when they demonstrated against him that they were chasing away their best friend.
That’s how I felt Sunday. Yes we have been relegated, statistically likely after promotion, by the narrowest margin of one point. Yes, we let Steve Bruce go and, yes, we took £3 million in compensation.
But the same people shouting against David Gold and I are the same few hundred that sent me letters begging me to sack Steve after he had lost six out of seven of his final games with the club.
These were the same few hundred that also sent me thank-you letters when we invested £9 million in bringing Alex McLeish, James McFadden, David Murphy and loan star Mauro Zarate to the club.
In Thursday's Birmingham Post, Professor John Samuels made a number of points and I would reply that professors are great theorists. In the real world it’s not so easy.
Often you offer players more money (e.g. Gary Cahill) but he chose to go to another club.
The Professor feels we should have matched Sunderland’s expenditure, but does not indicate where the money should come from. In addition, the last time a Professor ran a football club (Leeds United), we all saw what happened!
Just because he’s a Professor, it’s an impressive academic title, it doesn’t mean he could cut it in the business world. For the record I’m an Economics scholar from London University and hold a BSc (Hons) in Economics.
Football is a passion. I know that - it’s in the blood. I do not think I can be blamed for not being born a Blues supporter, but I match each of you for the passion I have for the club. I have put in my life, my time, time away from my family and my other businesses, to make Blues the best I can to my ability. In just over 15 years I have missed only one home game and under 20 away league matches.
Maybe for some of you my ability is not good enough. Some of you hate my honesty and bluntness. I make no excuses I am who I am. I am not a spin doctor or marketing genius. I am honest. I’ll tell you the truth, even if it hurts.
Pat Murphy said Steve Bruce spent only £22 million net during his time as manager, the truth is that it's £49.5 million net.
I would also highlight that for the new players bought at the start of the 2007-08 season the club spent in excess of £9.5million with regards to their wages, sign-on fees and contracted bonuses, plus the £9 million we spent on transfers.
In hindsight - and hindsight is a great thing - had we signed Cahill in January we might have stayed up. We have not kept a clean sheet since the Middlesbrough game on December 26th! However, what can you do if a player doesn’t want to live in Birmingham or play for BCFC?
We offered him £2,000 a week more than Bolton, but he chose Bolton. The reaction of the supporters on Sunday, in a game where we beat the seventh best team in the country 4-1, will not help the cause of bringing players we want to Blues.
We have had success. In 1993, when I bought Birmingham, you were on the verge of extinction. The club was in administration, with years of lack of investment both on and off the pitch. The ground was a disgrace, there was no infrastructure, no training ground and frankly the future was bleak.
But now we have a decent stadium, which we have spent £13 million on, and have invested just under £3 million on the infrastructure of the training ground.
A lot of supporters were asking ’where has the money gone?’ The wage bill alone last season was £30 million and this does not include the costs of buying players - transfer fees etc - and any costs of running the football club such as rent, rates, equipment, infrastructure and police bills, to name but a few.
Since Steve Bruce was appointed and Alex McLeish took over we have spent £56 million net on players (this figure does not include wages, National Insurance contributions, sign-on fees or image rights). We have spent five of the last six seasons in the Premier League.
I like Steve and I do not want to disrespect him. But there were financial disaster buys. Clinton Morrison arrived for £3.75 million, with Andy Johnson going in the opposite direction for free. AJ was then sold on by Crystal Palace to Everton for £8 million. We got just £1.4 million for Clinton when we sold him back to Palace.
Millions of pounds of financial losses were made on the sales of David Dunn, Rowan Vine, Luciano Figueroa, Jesper Gronkjaer, Walter Pandiani and Robbie Blake.
Everybody says how great Blackburn have done - but what about Leeds, Nottingham Forest, Sheffield Wednesday, Sheffield United, Norwich, Ipswich, Southampton, Leicester and Coventry - to name just a few. None of these clubs have done as well as us.
This time last year everybody said how great Reading were - why couldn’t we be like them? And two years ago it was Charlton.
The truth is that it’s not easy running a football club.
Trouble like that caused by supporters on Sunday shames the club and it changes the club in a harmful way.
When we joined we had a membership scheme because hooliganism was rife. Supporters and sponsors wouldn’t come. We changed the club through our various family and kids schemes.
We changed the atmosphere for the better and of that I am very proud. Please know that nobody will want to be associated with us if we go back to the trouble days, and if you genuinely want a new owner that’s the sure way to drive us away. Who wants to be associated with difficult, abusive and downright disgraceful supporters?
I don’t claim, and never have, that I have done everything right. I have made mistakes and if I had my time again would do some things differently. But I have always done what I thought was the best. I have put my heart, soul and my money into a club no-one else wanted in 1993.
I do not deserve to be treated this badly and I want to build bridges and bring the club success.
I believe that the good times will come back to us and this time next year we will be celebrating with a manager who has a great future and a team that live and die for you.
The best, I believe, is yet to come. Stand by us and we’ll stand by you. Don’t drive your best friend away."
Pat Murphy replies: David Sullivan is right - he and the board have brought success to Blues.
Steve Bruce did his bit in that direction as well. Mr Sullivan says he doesn't want to disrespect Bruce, so why has he sniped at him regularly since leaving the club last November?
Why put extra pressure on the admirable Alex McLeish by saying he was a better manager than Bruce as soon as he signed him six months ago?
I am not blind to Bruce's failings in the transfer market and referred to that in my last column. And he too could have turned the other cheek at times when a comment was sought.
As for the transfer figures in Bruce's reign, whenever journalists try to find out the precise sums involved, we get fobbed off by football clubs and are given approximate figures. My sources and research didn't get me anywhere near the net figure of £49.5million,as revealed by Mr Sullivan.
He,of course, knows better than me on that matter. My figure of £22million was for estimated transfer fees alone, paid out and received.
I also share Mr Sullivan's pleasure at McLeish's transfer work in January and said so in Wednesday's column, in which I sympathised with the club over Gary Cahill's late decision to join Bolton. I agree that Cahill might easily have kept Blues up.
The behaviour of some of the Blues fans in front of Mr Sullivan's children last Sunday was deplorable and I share the widespread sympathy towards Mr Sullivan and the anguish it caused. But I don't believe that lamentable incident will put off players who might be tempted to join Birmingham City.
Relegation is surely more relevant. And we're therefore back to responsibility for that. Steve Bruce or the board?