Carson Yeung

Carson Yeung cuts back on Birmingham City players' wages

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 11 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 11 May, 2013, 5:16am

He may be involved in a HK$721 million money-laundering trial, but when it comes to his greatest passion, Carson Yeung Ka-sing is cutting back drastically.

The boss of Birmingham City football club has been replacing some his most talented and expensive footballers with cheaper ones in a bid to ease the club's financial plight.

This emerged yesterday as Yeung chaired the annual general meeting of Birmingham International Holdings in the Gold Coast Hotel at Tuen Mun. His high-profile court case was suspended for the day because of the meeting and will resume on Monday.

Yeung did not take any questions from the media after the meeting. But Peter Pannu, the company's managing director, revealed that the club had offloaded five senior players earning more than £50,000 (HK$600,000) a week. Seven younger ones earning less than £5,000 would join within a week, he said.

Pannu said the club had been unable to adjust the salaries of the senior players after it was relegated from Premiership to Championship league in 2011, "so we let most of them go".

He said the company had decided to build up a team of young players. "We will gradually let go older footballers who have a higher weekly wage and do not meet our [policy] directions," he said. "We will try to get footballers that can minimise our costs."

Pannu added that the club wanted to offload two more senior players to help balance the books, but he was confident the company could resume trading its shares again this year after recovering from business losses suffered in the past two years.

He said the club was also talking with two or three potential buyers, but a decision had yet to be reached.

Yeung, a hairdresser turned tycoon who was little known before his emergence in English soccer, took over Birmingham City in 2009 for £81 million. The company suspended its trading of shares and was relegated from Premiership to Championship shortly after Yeung was charged with money-laundering in 2011.

He is being tried over five counts of money laundering totalling HK$721 million. The alleged incidents took place from January 2001 to December 2007, before he became the boss of the football club. He denies the charges.