A controversial owner is the last thing trouble-hit Blues need in the midst of severe financial difficulties, writes Laura Lawrence.
Is there a sentence that fills supporters’ hearts with dread more than, ‘subject to EFL approval’? Maybe the phrase, ‘businessman Laurence Bassini is in advanced talks to buy…’?
Birmingham City fans must be feeling that trepidation knowing that the 52-year-old’s within a whisker of purchasing their club.
Let’s not beat around the bush — the Blues are in trouble. Their accounts read like a South Korean horror novel and fans will always fear the possibility of ending up with some kind of Nosferatu character who sucks the life out of their club.
Bassini has endured many failures. He is a twice-bankrupted ‘businessman’. His first company collapsed, followed by him — not at all a red flag — legally changing his name from Bazini to Bassini. He has failed in attempts to buy Oldham Athletic, Portsmouth, Charlton Athletic and Bolton Wanderers. He has failed to produce proof that he has the funds to own a football club. He has failed to meet the deadline to put down the £5million deposit or provide proof of funds for the purchase of Birmingham.
He has successfully purchased a football club once, but his 13-month tenure in charge of Watford ended with an independent panel claiming he was “dishonest in his dealings with the league and with his fellow directors” and that he practised “secrecy and deception.” This resulted in a three-year ban from any position of power within a football league club.
He blamed this failure on naivety and his inexperience with football administration. He left owing Watford £1.5m and £3.5m to other stakeholders. His business failed for a second time and, again, he was declared bankrupt.
Bassini has been described as a fantasist. His Walter Mitty dreams of what he is, what he can bring to a business, and his visions of one day owning a Premier League football club are unsubstantiated. You only have to read the many articles from local newspapers in the areas he’s attempted to buy clubs. They are the protracted ramblings of a man who is against fan involvement and is now claiming West Ham owner David Sullivan is funding the Birmingham takeover. At Bolton, he gained a high court injunction to stop the sale to the eventual owners because he believed he was a better option to save the club from administration. At Portsmouth, he pulled out because the Supporters’ Trust saw him for what he really was and at Charlton, he pulled out because of Roland Duchatelet, which is the financial equivalent of two bald men fighting over a comb.
Bassini is a timewaster, and yet time and time again the EFL entertain him.
God grant me the misled confidence of Bassini or any other controversial businessman with entrepreneurial designs on becoming an alpha male in the football industry. The try and try again method shows results after all. Look at Peter Ridsdale, disqualified as a company director and almost ground Leeds United into the floor, but granted a seat at the EFL table in 2021 to represent Championship clubs. Bassini is not an anomaly.
Bassini is a man with a dream, but for supporters of any football club he is linked to, it’s a nightmare. His ownership will not solve Birmingham’s problems.
Follow Laura on Twitter @YICETOR