Yeung outlines scale of Birmingham ambition
LONDON: Carson Yeung has pledged 80 million pounds over the next ten months in a bid to turn Birmingham City into a more formidable Premier League force.
The new owner is clearly not short of ambition, but he'll be given an immediate indication of the scale of the task that lies before him when City travel to face Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium for their first game since the Hong Kong businessman formally completed the takeover of the Midlands club.
Yeung stated on Thursday that he was ready to make up to 40 million pounds available to City manager Alex McLeish in the forthcoming January transfer window to strengthen the squad.
And he subsequently revealed that a similar amount will also be allocated for trading in next summer's transfer market, providing McLeish with an opportunity to make wholesale changes to a group of players that have made a steady, if unspectacular start to life in the top flight following last season's promotion from the Championship.
"There will be up to forty million pounds to spend for the manager on players and wages in January," said Yeung.
"We are happy that Alex is the manager and we want to do all we can to support him to get the best players.
"We want to make a commitment to the supporters. We want to spend money in January to make sure we stay in the Premier League this season. Our long term plans are to establish the team higher than that. We want to put more than forty million pounds in for next season.
"We want to buy the best and strongest players that are available to make Birmingham City the biggest team in the world."
How effective Yeung is in establishing Birmingham as a force in English football will depend largely on how the cash is spent.
Other clubs have embarked on substantial spending sprees and failed to generate long term success, as Newcastle United and Leeds will testify.
But McLeish, who will be reassured to have received an initial vote of support from his new employers, insists that recruitment of players will stay firmly within his remit.
"Will I have the final decision on team and transfer targets? It will be down to me," said the manager.
"That is the normal remit of a manager and we will pretty much be working that way."
The manager has cautioned, however, that even with a substantial budget to dip into, City's transformation will not happen overnight.
"We still have to realise we are not a Manchester United, Manchester City or Liverpool," he added. "We will still target a certain type of player.
"We are not going to target an Emmanuel Adebayor but there are players out there I know will enhance my first eleven we will try to attract."
A growing injury list means McLeish would like to be able to dip into the new funds immediately with the Blues heading to face an in-form Arsenal without a number of defensive players with Franck Quedrue joining an injury list that already includes Gregory Vignal, Martin Taylor and Stuart Parnaby.
As Blackburn found out when they were thrashed 6-2 on their recent trip, the Emirates Stadium is no place to visit with a makeshift defence.
Arsene Wenger's side initially struggled for consistency this season but a run of six straight victories has restored Arsenal's swagger after successive defeats to Manchester United and Manchester City.
With Tomas Rosicky back to full fitness, Theo Walcott finally ready to kick-start his season and the return of Samir Nasri imminent, Wenger is confident his team will get better.
The main set-back this week has been the injury to Eduardo that will almost certainly prevent the Croatia forward from facing Birmingham for the first time since he suffered a broken leg and dislocated ankle after a challenge by Taylor in February 2008.